Paul is developing a positional statement for the first century church in Rome. In it, Paul will try to reveal the reality of sin and how it is overcome. He boldly states that he is not ashamed of the gospel (good news), as it is the revelation of God's power to change lives and the righteousness of God is revealed through it. This is why Believers are called "the righteous", because each follower of The Way reflects the One Who brought the miraculous change into the heart.
When making the statement, "the righteous live by faith", Paul knocks the props of our earthly devices out from under us. We might depend on our family pedigree, or upon our personal abilities at acquiring wealth, or upon some system of religious expression, all of which fail miserably in providing a source of significance for our life or assuring us of a hope that springs eternal.
The writer of Hebrews states the just shall live by faith (Hebrews 10:38), and that it is impossible to please God EXCEPT through faith (Hebrews 11:6). So, where does the faith originate? From God Himself, The Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). The dynamic of faith is circular: it begins in the heart of God the Father, makes its way into the heart of the Believer, only to be exercised in seeking the heart of the Father.
Faith is described as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1, KJV) Adrian Rogers once said, "...faith is like film, it's developed in the dark..." In essence, then, faith is the assurance that one is led by the One Who provides the map of life and Who knows each landmark for faith to do its complete work. Faith is like a muscle, it has to be exercised. As the object of our faith is the One Who is the source of our faith, then certainly He will not be stingy in dispensing more faith. He will gladly pour out the faith needed for the moment, for His grace is sufficient in all things (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So the question remains to be asked, "Am I living by faith?" What are the indicators of a Believer successfully living by faith? In his book, Radical, David Platt asserts an "American" view of faith, exposing its "un-Biblical" exercise:
“I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we (have) missed what was radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.”
It seems the litmus test for living by faith is to allow God to prove Himself again and again by venturing into the circumstance of the unknown for the glory of God and risking everything upon the altar of sacrifice to God. Are we building retirement plans or righteous proofs of God's incredible ability to make all things work together for the good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Take the step of faith today and prove two things: God's faithfulness to you and your trust in Him to show Himself faithful.
Venture into the dark with the light of the world at your side,