Faith and the Higher Life
Habakkuk 2:4
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

All men live by faith, and in our world man is the only creature who lives by faith. A world altogether without faith, where no man could trust another in anything, would be a most miserable world. Take away faith altogether, and all the social fabric would be one heap of ruins. Man is the only creature in this world who can live by faith. All creatures and all things depend upon God for the continuance of their existence as truly as man does, but it is man only who can trust in God. The fact that man can know God and trust in Him is a proof of his greatness and glory, and shows him to be the object of God's special care and tenderness, as was shown by Christ in His Sermon on the Mount. Yet there are many men who do not trust in Him for His blessings, and live for His glory, in the enjoyment of them. Faith in Him is not a condition of the bestowal of His temporal blessings upon men. But men cannot have God's spiritual blessings without faith in Him. To live for the spiritual and invisible is impossible without faith in God, and man is too great and glorious a being to live only for the present. The truth is, that the man of faith in God is the only man who truly lives.

I. THE NOBLEST CHARACTER. In the Bible men are divided into two great divisions, the righteous and the wicked. The righteous is a man who trusts God's Word, submits to God's will, and lives in conformity with God's righteous and holy law. He is a straight, or right, man — right in mind, in heart, and in life. The unjust man is s man with a crooked soul. In the Old Testament the word righteousness refers more to conduct than to the inward principle of spiritual life, and the righteous man is characterised by truthfulness, honesty, uprightness, tenderness, and unswerving fidelity to duty in relation to God and man.

II. THE HIGHEST LIFE. Man's highest life is a life of trust in God. No man can live to himself in the highest sense of life, and if he tries to do so he will die in the very attempt. It is through the death of the lower self that the higher and true self can live. To enable men to do this was Christ's object in coming to the world to live and die for us. Through faith men die in His death and live in His life, and this is the only way in which fallen man, who is dead in trespasses and sins, can find his life. The greatest thing the blessed Saviour could give for man was life, and the greatest thing He can give to man is life. In giving life Christ gives to men all they stand in need of for time and eternity. There is more in life than correspondence of an organism with its environment. There is a vital, mysterious principle, which manifests itself through the correspondence of the organism with its environment, and reaches its perfection when that correspondence becomes perfect. The highest life is the spiritual, which, said Christ, consists in the knowledge of God and Himself. The spiritual man not only lives and moves and has his being in God and His Son, as the true environment of spiritual and eternal life, but God in His Son must live in him. What is it to live according to the sense of the word in the text? It consists of three things —

1. Participation of God's nature. Men live in God and unto God by becoming partakers of the Divine nature.

2. Perfect delight in God. We associate enjoyment with all conscious life. God has no way of giving joy but by giving life.

3. Usefulness for God. The crown of every life is its usefulness; its highest end is service. There is no true joy of life possible without life of service. The life which consists of the knowledge of God in His Son will be eternally progressive.

III. THE CONDITION OF THE BLESSED LIFE OF THE RIGHTEOUS. "By his faith." Man's highest life is a life of living trust in a living God. Faith in God is the animating and sustaining principle of the life of the righteous. Only a person can be an object of trust, Faith cannot live but in the constant vision of its object. This living faith in God is given to man to enable him to do his work for God. The only faith worthy of the name is that which enables us to live the truest and highest life.

(Z. Mather.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

WEB: Behold, his soul is puffed up. It is not upright in him, but the righteous will live by his faith.

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