now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “the righteous shall live by faith.” [galatians 3:11]
paul makes a paradoxical statement:
the righteous: those who are blameless, free from sin, whom there is no charge against–
shall live by faith: these righteous, do not derive their righteousness from themselves, but by a trust, a hope, a faith and rejoicing in something–someone–external to themselves.
if you dig into it, the logic is humbling: we are not righteous first and then we live by faith, but when we live by faith (a faith that is given to us, so we cannot boast) we are made righteous. this is yet another example of how paul says “be who you are!” we faith–we believe–in Christ, day by day, by the Holy Spirit, and we are righteous in that faithing–not in our own actions, but because of the righteousness Christ has already purchased for us!
this is not a new idea–paul is quoting a promise of the old testament to the galatians–
“behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. [habakkuk 2:4]
we cannot justify ourselves–habakkuk complains to the Lord and groans about the disobedience that he is surrounded with, and the Lord answers him. in the end, habakkuk trusts in the Lord for salvation and righteousness–
“though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet i will rejoice in the Lord; i will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. [habakkuk 3:17-19a]
we do not save ourselves or others any more than we make the fig tree to blossom, or the fields to grow or the flocks to produce.
we trust in the Lord.
we hope in the Lord.
we faith in the Lord.
he does not fail. in him only will we be made righteous. let us rejoice in the Lord!
let us take joy in the Lord of our salvation! God, the Lord, is our strength!
~ conor eastman