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The verses in question are from the prophet Habakkuk, the apostle Paul, and the writer of Hebrews (whom most believe was Paul).

Hab 2:4  the just shall live by his faith.

Rom 1:17  The just shall live by faith.
Gal 3:11  … The just shall live by faith.
Heb 10:38  the just shall live by faith

Clearly, Habakkuk 2:4 says “by his faith,” but when this prophet’s words were quoted in the New Testament, “his” was omitted. Why?

Old Covenant vs. New Covenant 

Many things were different under the Old Covenant.  This is one of those things. 

In salvation under the New Covenant, we have been given the Holy Spirit to indwell, teach, direct, and seal us “unto the day of redemption.” (1 Cor 3:16, John 14:26, Eph 1:13, 4:30)  Under the Old Covenant that was not so.  

Before Jesus came, gave His life to pay for the sins of mankind, and opened the way to the Father under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit would only come upon, or enter into, some of the people who trusted in Jehovah.  God gave the Spirit to prophets, priests, and kings to empower them in their service for God.  And the Spirit could depart at any time from those under the Old Covenant.  In contrast, for us who are of the New Covenant, the Spirit will never leave us.  We are guaranteed His permanent, indwelling presence, and that assures us of the security of our eternal life in Christ. (Read:What is eternal security/assurance of salvation?)

Spirit Produced Faith

One of the “works” of the Holy Spirit in us is to produce fruit.  And that fruit includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  So how does the Spirit produce faithfulness in us?  By increasing our faith.  And how does He increase our faith?  By precisely what Jesus said He would do…by teaching us.

John 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Our faith is built by knowledge.  

The reformers defined faith as:  knowledge + belief + trust = faith.  (Read: What is Faith?)  Therefore, we understand that the foundation of faith is knowledge.  And knowledge comes from the Word of God:

Rom 10:17  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

So the Holy Spirit gives, or increases, our faith by giving us knowledge—by teaching us all things (John 14:26).

The Just Shall Live by His Faith vs by Faith?

Because most believers in the Old Testament did not have the Holy Spirit, and none had His permanent indwelling, they did not have a spiritual Helper to grow their faith or direct their ways.  They needed to keep their focus on God through prayer, obedience to His moral Law, and practice of the Levitical Law.   By doing these things, they would grow their faith.  They were to live by their faithfulness to God, and that’s why Habakkuk said the just would “live by HIS [own] faith.”

Under the New Covenant, we live by God’s faithfulness to us.

Gal 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Jesus is faithful to grow us in grace and in knowledge. He does so by the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is active in the life of all believers. Therefore, “we live by faith” — a faith produced not by our own singular ability but a faith produced by the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, minds, and souls. It is a faith produced by God’s faithfulness to us (Gal 2:20). And thereby we walk (2 Cor 5:7), stand (1 Cor 16:13), and live (Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11 and Heb 10:38), not by our faith but by faith that is strengthened by God.

1 Cor 1:9  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Eph 3:20  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

Psa 89:1  I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

Praise God for His faithfulness to you, for the mercy and grace He has given you, and for the faith that He is building in you.

Live in the Strength of the Lord

1 Timothy 6:11 …Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.’

Eph 3:16-17  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

Gal 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Read also: Is Faith to Believe a Gift from God? Given to Some But Not to All?


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***A Hidden Message in Psalm 23?***  

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A Room with a View of Eternity—The Last Will & Testament of Jesus Christ   Take a seat at the Master's table. Learn about the riches He gives to all who are His. This book will bless and encourage you, give you hope, and help you live in the joy of your salvation and the riches of Christ that are yours.

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There is much to be learned from those who have gone before us in the faith.  Check out our Cloud of Witnesses category that features the words of departed saints who are now with the Lord in glory.  Their words equip and encourage us even to this day.  Take a few minutes to hear...

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  7. Understanding the Everlasting Arms of God, by J.R. Miller (1840–1912)
  8. 24 Reasons Why I Love America, by John Wayne (1907-1979)
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  10. Abide with Me, by James Smith, 1859

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