Fruit: Faith


I want to start this morning in the Old Testament book of Habakuk. Habakuk chapter 2. We are going to look at just one verse in this chapter. Verse 4.

The Bible says in Habakuk 2:4:

”Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:4)

Now, I’m going to be honest with you - I don’t know much about Habakuk. I know he was a prophet that saw the wickedness of his country and knew God was going to destroy it and deeply wanted to see his country revived.

This isn’t a message on Habakuk this morning. I just want us to think about the one little phrase we see here in verse 4:

”The just shall live by his faith.”

This is an interesting phrase. It’s interesting because it keeps coming up in the Bible. It comes up exactly in Romans 1:17 where Paul says:

”For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

It comes up in Galatians 3 where again Paul says:

”But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)

And we see it again in Hebrews. Four times the Bible says “the just shall live by faith” or “the just shall live by his faith.”

Faith is important. I mean, we are supposed to live by it. Right. We are going to talk in just a minute about just how important it is but it’s really really important.

It’s also really misunderstood. I have a personal pet-peeve with this word. I think it gets used a lot of times as a kind of fluffy filler word.

  • Politicians will talk about being a “person of faith” when they want a vote.
  • You’ll see the word “faith” on cheesy office motivational posters.
  • You’ll hear people say “have a little faith” from time to time when they are down.
  • We have our “faith” channels with non-stop cheesy hallmark style movies.

And the problem with all of this is that no one really knows what faith is. And the further problem is this: when you do understand what faith is - faith itself is kind of neutral.

You see, faith is just another word for believing. You could say it is belief in action. Just putting your trust in something. And in a sense - faith can be really bad.

What I mean is you can have a lot of faith in really bad things. In 1978, 900 people put their faith in Jim Jones and drank the “Kool Aid” - killing themselves. I’d say those people had a lot of faith - they just had faith in something evil.

A lot of people had faith in Bernie Merdoff. Millions of North Koreans have faith in Kim Jong Un. Lots of people put their faith in the lottery or put their faith in the government. A lot of people right now have their faith in Bitcoin.

And most people put their faith in more normal things: They put their faith in their family. They put their faith in their job. They put their faith in their country. They put their faith in their political party. They put their faith in exercise.

But when the Bible says “The just shall live by faith” it’s not talking about faith in those things - it is talking about faith in God and what God has said and what God has done.

Now, I say all of that as an introduction to our text this morning. Galatians 5:22-23. The Bible talks about “The Fruit of the Spirit” and it says:

”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

I’ve already spent six weeks looking at these different fruits of the Holy Spirit’s work in our life and I’ve come to faith. If the Holy Spirit is allowed to work in you and through you you will grow in love, you will grow in joy, you’ll be peaceful with yourself and with others, you will be able to put up with people and not be angry, you will be gentle and good AND you will grow in faith.

So I want to preach to you on the subject of Faith this morning. I’m going to give you three points on Faith.

This morning, I’m going to preach on one aspect of this. But I actually think there is a second way to read this idea of faith being the fruit of the Spirit and I’ll preach on that not next Sunday (I’ll be gone) but the Sunday after that.

Before we do, let’s pray and ask God’s blessing on our message today.

The first point I want to make about faith is this:

1. Faith is putting our trust in God and His word, even when it doesn’t make sense to others.

You could say this is the “definition” of biblical faith. Some people have said faith is merely “taking God at His word.” Others have said faith is “looking unto Jesus.” But I like my definition: putting our trust in God and His Word, even when it doesn’t make sense to others.

In our adult Sunday School we are learning about the book of Joshua. The book of Joshua records so many times when the children of Israel were told by God to do something that made no human sense. For instance, when they came to Jericho, this massive fortified city and their greatest military opponent. Their war plan from God was to walk around the city silently. That’s it. Just walk around the city. On the last day they were to walk around it seven times and then - here is where they really showed their military might - they were to blow trumpets.

Does that sound like a good battle plan to you? It’s absurd. Yet the children of Israel had to take God at His word. And literally, the entire Bible is full of men who learn to trust God and take Him at this word - even when everything they see and everything they know screams otherwise.

That’s faith.

  • When Abraham has to believe God that He is going to be the father of many nations, even though He’s an old man who has never had children, he was showing faith.
  • When Moses stands before the most powerful man in the world and demands - doesn’t ask - but demands that he voluntarily give up most of his slave workforce. That took faith.
  • When Daniel gets up and goes to his window and prays, knowing full well that a law was just passed against it that would put him in the lion’s den. That took faith.

Sometimes these people showed faith by doing these grand things that didn’t make sense - like these examples. But most of the time, they showed faith just by following God’s word when no one else was.

And I want to tell you this morning - that’s 99% of our faith. It’s just believing that what God’s word says is true and determining to live by God’s word even if the rest of the world thinks we are crazy for it.

It’s going to church faithfully. It’s reading our Bible. It’s raising our kids based on Christian principles. It’s giving. It’s serving. It’s sharing the gospel. It’s by living according to God’s morals and not the morals of our society.

All of that takes faith. Because it’s not certain that it’s going to pay off from a human standpoint. Those of you who are here every Sunday, week in and week out, and you make it a priority. You are putting a huge investment of time into church. I mean, just in terms of time, you are giving up 10% of your weekends. You most precious time all week. And it’s not certain, not from the world’s eyes, that there is ever going to be a repayment for that investment. It takes faith. It takes trusting God even when the world doesn’t see it.

It takes faith to determinately raise your children by Christian principles. When your son or daughter says “every one else is doing it” they might be right. And it’s going to take more than just nominal faith to say “it doesn’t matter - as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

I could go on and on. Sometimes we go through a dark valley of sickness or loss and it just takes faith to keep living. We just have to trust God that He knows what He is doing and that He is going to bring us through this. Sometimes just the next step is an act of faith.

So faith is putting our trust in God and His word, even when it doesn’t make sense to others. That’s point number one.

Point number 2 is:

2. The only way to become “just” is through faith.

The phrase we started with says “The just shall live by faith.” We’ve defined faith - but what does it mean to be “just?”

Just means “justified.” It is a legal word and a theological word that means our crimes are erased and we are right with the law and authority. Justified.

The truth is we are all sinners. Every single one of us has sinned and come short of God’s glory. We’ve all lied. We’ve all stolen. We’ve all fought hatred and anger and bitterness and lust. Every single last one of us has a rebellious heart towards at least some of God’s precepts.

We are sinners. And the Bible says that God is Holy and God is just. He is the judge. And someday He is going to hold us accountable. the Bible says “The wages of sin is death.”. the Bible talks about a judgment in Revelation 20 that is absolutely terrifying. Let me just read you three verses:

”And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

We are all going to be judged based on our sins and on our works. And all of us come short. All of us have sinned. That’s terrifying. What we need is to be justified. We need to have our record expunged.

So how are we justified? Do we erase our bad works with good works? No! We can’t do it.

The only way to be justified - the only way to have our record of sins removed - is through faith.

Back in Galatians 2:16 it says this:

”Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. In other words you can’t work your way to heaven. You can’t possibly do enough good works to erase your sin. It isn’t possible.

But there is a way to be justified and this verse tells us what it is - it is through the “faith of Christ”.

John 3:16 says:

”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Listen, the price of being justified, the price of eternal life is just one thing. It’s believing. It’s faith.

Not only do the just live by faith, the only way to be just is by faith.

Let me illustrate it this way. About 8 years ago - we were super poor. I think we made about 15 or 16 thousand a year AS A FAMILY. It was rough. Our car died and we were driving a borrowed 1976 Ford Maverick. We had nothing. Just getting groceries was a struggle.

And this wealthy man in our church gave us this card. Inside the card was a note that said take this to Applebees and get whatever you want on me. The people there will know what to do with it. So what is this? It was just a business card of the manager of Applebees. Nothing written on it besides a signature on the back.

O.k. This seems a little fishy. So do you know what we did? We timidly drove our borrowed 76 maverick to Applebees. And we ordered a meal we had no way of paying for.

Then when we got the bill, I had to take out this business card and stick it in the payment thing where money was supposed to go and trust that my friend wasn’t playing an awful trick on us and that he had, in fact, paid for my meal.

I love telling that story because it is such a clear illustration of faith. We all owe a debt - a sin debt - that we cannot pay. We have no chance of paying that bill. But someone has taken care of that bill for us. When Jesus died on the cross He paid your sin bill. All that He asks is that we believe. That we trust His payment.

When Christians talk about “getting saved” that is what we are talking about. We are talking about the time when we put our faith and trust in what Jesus has done for us and we pray in faith and ask Him to save us. All of the folks getting baptized this morning have recently done this.

Have you done it. Have you ever put your faith in Christ? There is no better time than today to do it.

I have one more point this morning. So far I’ve said:

  • Faith is putting our trust in God and His word, even when it doesn’t make sense to others.
  • The only way to become “just” is through faith.

My third point is…

The way for the just to live is through faith.

One more time, that phrase we started with that is repeated so many times in scripture says ”The just shall live by faith.”

I want to tell you that according to the scripture - Salvation is a one time thing. You are saved in an instant. God reckons you just because of what Jesus did. He changes your account in heaven. He moves you from those other books to the book of life in an instant.

Salvation is instantaneous - but after we receive salvation - we should live by faith. Here is what that means, it means as we grow as Christians, we learn to trust God more and more. We learn more about who He is, and as we know Him better, then we should more and more trust Him as He leads our life.

Living by faith. Walking by faith.

You see, the Christian life is really simple. It’s just looking to God, day by day and moment by moment for instructions and doing what He tells us to do. And the more we know God and the more we know God’s character - the easier that becomes.

When you look at some of the men I mentioned earlier: Abraham, Daniel, Moses. They weren’t just born with amazing faith. In fact, in Abraham and Moses’ case if you look at their early life and walk they don’t seem to have much faith at all. But as they walked with God they learned to trust Him more and more until it seems like they have enormous faith.

We are supposed to live by faith?

So let me ask you just two questions this morning before I baptize? 1 - Have you been justified by faith? 2- Are you living by faith?