Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” The just shall live by faith. Or, it may be also stated, “By (his) faith, the just (one) shall live”. The word “faith” is found 247 times in the Bible. 245 of those times are in the New Testament. Obviously, something very important and very different happened at the cross, between the Old and New Testament. Faith became fixed, foundational, and fundamental.
Let's use the three books where this verse is found in the NT to describe the verse. Romans 1:17 – the just (righteous) – Rom 3:10, 21-22, 4:3-6, 21-22, 5:17, 19, 9:30-10:4, 10. Heb 10:38 – shall live – Heb 2:1-3, 3:12, 6:4-6, 10:19-30. Gal 3:11 – by faith – Gal 2:16, 20, 3:2, 5, 7, 9, 11-14, 22-26, 5:5-6.
First, let’s look at “The Just.” The word “just” means righteous, innocent, guiltless, faultless, holy. Righteousness is a gift from God. It cannot be earned, but only received. You cannot work for righteousness. Righteousness would cease to be a gift if you could work for it - it would be wages if you could earn it. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Before faith in Christ, you are unrighteous. There is none righteous, no, not one. We are born unrighteous. Every person needs to be made righteous through faith, in order to receive eternal life. If you reject Jesus, you will die unrighteous. You will die in your sin. You will go to Hell forever, and it isn’t God’s fault. That is truth. When you receive the gift of righteousness, you are made the righteousness of God in Christ. You are as righteous in your spirit as you will ever be. That is totally awesome.
Second, let’s look at “shall live.” The Greek word for “live” means not only to live and not die (as in live physically or live forever), but also means to live your life (walk of life). Why is this important? Because “shall live” is a verb. Shall live, and keep on living. Walking every day with Jesus. There are many warnings in the Book of Hebrews about not turning back, not having an evil heart of unbelief, not treading underfoot the blood of Jesus Christ. Why the warnings? Because the Christian life is not a one-time prayer. It is a lifetime of walking with Jesus. The just shall live and continue to live by faith.
Finally, let’s look at “by faith.” Faith is a noun. It means trust, confidence, belief. By trust, confidence, belief, and faith, the righteous one shall live (continually). No one will be justified by works or self-effort of any kind. It cannot and will not happen. It is only by faith. Faith today, faith tomorrow, faith until the end. Paul rebuked the Galatians for thinking they must be saved by faith, but stay saved by works (Gal 3). You get saved by faith and stay saved by faith. Keep believing. Keep trusting. Keep being confident in Jesus - not yourself. Jesus is Your Savior - Yesterday, today, and forever.
We must contend for the faith (Jude 3). We must keep the faith (2Tim 4:7). We must fight the good fight of faith (1Tim 6:12). We must be assured of our faith (Heb 10:22). We must hold strong to the confession of our faith (Heb 10:23). Why? Because our faith overcomes the world (1Jn 5:4). Don't give up. Don't give in. Don't compromise your faith. Stand for Jesus Christ and His eternal Word. Until next time, rejoice in the Lord!