“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.”

Habakkuk 2:4 (NIV)

Sometimes, when I read something in the Old Testament, like “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness,” I wonder how this message of what makes a person righteous was lost on the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. Almost concurrently though, I wonder about us today. I wonder about myself. Do I believe that it’s my faith that makes me righteous or do I believe, and act like the things that I do make me righteous?

The notion of following the rules and being righteous for following those rules make sense. Is there anywhere, any time, in all of history, that someone who followed the rules, that society thought of as just and right, wasn’t considered to be good? Everyone who raises a child hopes that the child will obey the rules and when they do, we praise them for it. No one looks to the person who made the rules and praises that person, do they? No, they look to the one who either does what they are supposed to do, or does not, and they go from there. Then, they label the person “good” or “bad” on this premise of obedience.

Even Jesus tells us “‘If you love me, you will obey my commandments'” (John 14:15 GNT). We are also told that we need to “keep on being obedient to the word, and not merely being hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22 ISV). I don’t know about you but the message that I overwhelming hear is to take action. We need to be active in our pursuit of God, active in the way that we love, active in prayer, active in obedience, active in every thought, and actively going to church else we will not be saved. This powerful message of works is one that, if you receive it, and try to conform to it, will destroy you, leaving you broken inside.

But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Matthew 7:23 (NLT)

Why do Believers read these words and shudder? To whom is Jesus speaking, who is it that broke the laws of God, that Jesus never knew? It is those who, on Judgment Day, say to Him, “did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’” (Matthew 7:22 ESV) Surely, if these people who prophesied, cast out demons, healed people, and did other works, in the name of Jesus, are told to depart because He never knew them then what chance do I have? I’ve never done any of those things!

But the righteous person will live by faith, in contrast to the one who- what does the Lord say, to Habakkuk, here? “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves” (Habakkuk 2:4 NLT). Checking off all of the boxes and doing everything that you think you need to do, isn’t what makes you righteous. The only work that you need to do is to “believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29 NIV).

When we “declare with [our] mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in [our] heart[s] that God raised him from the dead, [we are] saved (Romans 10:9 NIV). A byproduct of this salvation and the transformative work of God in the believing Christian is that we show love to God by doing what He says. Everything else; reading the Bible, prayer, obedience to God, and assembling together with other Believers is also an effect of God’s work in us. My friends, the desire you feel to please God is because you love Him. Don’t allow yourself to believe that your works will save you when you’re already saved!

As I ruminate upon my faith, and what I believe the Lord is saying to me today, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that His arm has reached down to pull me from the snare of religion. I’m reminded that it’s so very easy to become entangled, in this trap, of belief in myself, when my first love, the One who has saved me from death and redeemed me, covers me in His blood.

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.