Whenever you see a biblical precept written in the OT and that same exact precept is referenced in the NT you might want to pay close attention.
That being said, in both Habakkuk 2:4 and Romans 1:17 and also in Galatians 3:11 we find this example of scriptural duality: “The just shall live by faith.”
Consequently, this passage is also referred to as the crux of the Gospel. The Scriptural passage mentioned above, when understood, can give us such peace and assurance in knowing our salvation doesn’t depend on us. This was the prophet Habakkuk’s and Paul’s driving message. Not to mention it was also God’s plan from the beginning that His people would be made just, or right with God, not through striving, church attendance, or legalism, but rather through faith in Jesus Christ and His selfless payment for our sins.
Let’s briefly expand contextually on these two personalities (Habakkuk and Paul). The ancient Hebrew prophet, Habakkuk first spoke this phrase during a dark time of Israel’s history and centuries later the apostle Paul quoted him in Romans and Galatians while explaining God’s gift of salvation.
Shortly before the Chaldeans invaded and overtook Judah, the ancient prophet wrote: “Behold, his soul is puffed up,” speaking of the prideful and self-reliant enemy, “it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, NIV). In other words, though destruction was coming, God wouldn’t forsake those who trusted in Him. As John Piper states, “There is hope for those who will hold firm their trust in God when the calamity comes.”
Now then, when Paul spoke of the just, or righteous, he wasn’t referencing someone’s behavior or personal integrity. Rather, he was referring to our being made right with God. This is known as the doctrine of justification, and it has a legal connotation. It refers to God declaring Christ-followers not guilty because of the price Jesus paid on our behalf.
Fact check alert….all of Scripture and human history proves this: Mankind cannot live as God desires. We know this in the depths of our spirit. Despite our best efforts we fall, fail, and fumble everyday (Romans 3:23). If our salvation, our righteousness, depended on us, we’d be lost and hopeless. Thankfully, Jesus bridged the gap between us and God and did what we could never do. He offered His life in place of ours so that we could receive His life in place of death. So that we could become the just through faith.
At the end of the day, no matter what happened to you in your past or what is going on in your life right now has any power to keep you from having an amazingly good future when you choose to walk by faith in God.