The Righteous Man Shall Live by Faith

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For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Romans 1:17, NASB)

I’ve been texting with a friend, a sister in the Lord, about what it means to live by faith.  We are both learning what it means to trust in God and to wrestle with Him; we are learning how to live by faith through the hard times of life, through the difficulties, the pain, the struggles, and the circumstances that tempt us to trust in the world or to trust in religion.  Through all of this, through the storms of life, we are learning to remain steadfast and to trust in the Lord, to depend on Him for our strength. . .when we are obviously so weak.

I have been walking down this new path of freedom for 12 years, and my friend has been walking it for just a few, yet we are both learning the same thing . . . because the learning never ends.  And in 20 or 40 years, I will still be learning to trust in the Lord – because He is infinite and I am depraved.  While I remain on this cursed earth, I will grow to trust Him more and more as I experience the difficulties of life .

My friend and I began this texting discussion after both listening to a radio program by Aaron Budjen on “Living by Faith.”  In his message, Aaron talks about Romans 1:17 and the quote from Habakkuk that says that the righteous man will live by faith.

“Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” (Habbakkuk 2:4)

Although I was saved 28 years ago, I spent 14 or 15 years not trusting in the Lord, even though I was born again and had a relationship with Him.  I spent those years trusting in religion and trusting in my church.  I was trusting in the acceptance of other people, in the attempt to earn their acceptance through working so hard doing ministry work.

I looked to and trusted in religion which is really just an aspect of the knowledge of good and evil. (The Lord God said not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but we did, so the tree is a part of this world that we live in, it’s a part of this fallen world.)  Although I was not necessarily doing evil, I actually was, because Jesus said there is only One who is good.  He alone, God, is the only One who is good.  Other than Him, there is none good.

So even though we try to live according to the knowledge of what is good, it ends up being a life of evil, because our motives are wrong.  Our “good deeds” are often attempts to earn the acceptance of others, to earn the acceptance of God.  We try to remain in a relationship with God by doing good works, repenting of our sin, asking God to forgive us, and then being firmly devoted to living a life of obedience . . . but all of that is a life of vanity and emptiness.

Being set free from such a life by discovering that I am a forgiven person, started me down a path that will never end.  As long as I am in the flesh, I will always be discovering and anticipating and growing. Learning every day what it means to live by faith.

Experiencing Joy in the Midst of Suffering

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Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. (Romans 12:12, NET Bible)

One of my favorite things about my relationship with the Lord is the JOY that He gives me; the joy that I feel coursing through my veins; joy that is palpable and evident and real.  It is His joy and I am so thankful to Him that He shares it with me.

I appreciate it so much more when it is felt during times of difficulty, pain and suffering.  At times like this, His joy makes me want to rejoice! 😄

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4, NASB)

I am reminded of Corrie Ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, in which Corrie eloquently describes the dual-existence of joy in the midst of suffering.  In this true story that is a “must-read,” you’ll learn that Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their elderly father were all arrested and sent to prison for hiding a group of Jewish people in their home during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Soon after their father’s untimely death, Corrie and Betsie spent time in the notorious women’s concentration camp, Ravensbruck.

“Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.”  ― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom

Such a marvelous book! ❤️😁

The Ten Boom family could see the true light in the midst of this dark world.  And as their brothers and sisters, as Jesus followers, as believers in the gospel of grace, we also know the truth!

The truth has set us free, and yet we are stuck on this earth temporarily.  So, while we are here, let’s be patient; let’s hang in there; let’s not give up.

We all have pain, we all have suffering, and we all have difficulties to varying degrees.  But we also have hope.  Not only the hope of our future life in heaven, but the hope that is alive for us today:  the kingdom of God in our very hearts.  A hope with promise; that when we have persevered through tribulations, God will use the pain we have endured to reveal more of His love to us!

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NASB)

We are nothing like God

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6, 35-36, NASB.)

Do you love your enemies?  God does.  He loves His enemies because He is kind.

“For He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Verse 35)

Is all of your behavior good?  God’s is.  He always does good.  Our attempts at doing good, on the other hand, are called “dead works” (Hebrews 6 and 9.)

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14, NASB)

Are you a merciful person?  Are you full of mercy and compassion and forgiveness toward others?  Well, hallelujah!  God is!  He is the only One who is merciful.  That is good news because we really need His mercy!

The first verses listed above, from Luke 6, are part of the famous “Beatitudes,” a.k.a., The Sermon on the Mount.  In that sermon Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, trying to get them to see that they needed Him as their Messiah, their Saviour.  But the fact is that they had already rejected Him and at that point in the story, they were already planning to destroy Him, to do away with Him.  Why?  Because, according to them, He “worked” on the Sabbath Day.

Yes.  How dare Him, right?  He actually walked through a grain field and allowed His disciples to pick wheat and eat it.  In addition, He healed a man who had a withered hand . . .  on the Sabbath day!!!  Shocking, huh?

The Pharisees were like, “You evil unrighteous person!  You picked wheat!  You healed a man!”  . . . uh?  Okay.

It’s ridiculous to us, of course.  But to them, it was audacious and wrong and against the rules!!!

And yet, all of us, at one time or another were just like the Pharisees.  Blind, rule-following, religious, prideful jerks who rejected Jesus and saw no need for His love, His goodness, His mercy.

But . . . I can take a deep breath, take a sigh of relief and rejoice in His mercy to me.

“He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35)

I can be thankful today and every day, no matter what my circumstances are, because He has saved me by faith through grace.

I just want to praise Him today and remember that I am NOTHNG like Him.  Neither are you, if you’re honest, and that is good news!  Because He is God, and we are not.