For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Righteousness comes from living by faith. The King James Version reads, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith…” In other words, righteousness (right living) is obtained by us as we live from one faithful act to the next. Therefore, faith is the beginning and ending point of right living.
When I was younger, I used to be a slave to cigarettes. It does not make me proud to tell you this because I consider self-control to be one of the finer fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). As time went on, I came to feel like the verse from Proverbs 25:28, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” Despite the fact I knew some extraordinary Christian men who smoked like chimneys (pipes, cigars, and cigarettes), smoking was not for me. I needed to separate myself from it. So now we get to the really hard part of Christian living — it’s not usually identifying which behaviors we need to end (we all know what those are), it’s the stopping that’s the problem. Or is it? You see I had no problem quitting smoking — I had quit hundreds of times before, it was the starting I had a problem with!
I remember driving home on the freeway one day listening to praise music, and I thought, “Okay God, you want me to stop, but this cigarette has a lot of power over me, so I’ll not have one right now, but if five minutes from now I still want one I’m going to smoke.” Then I prayed with my eyes open (I was driving), “God please take the desire for cigarettes away from me and heal my body.” Five minutes went to ten and then my body called screamed for nicotine. I prayed again, “I’ll go five minutes Lord, but that’s all I’ve got. Please take the desire from me.” Ten minutes went to fifteen, then thirty, then an hour, then a day, week, month and years. I only had self-control for five minutes at a time, because that’s all I could muster — the Lord did the rest.
In our passage today, I think that is what Paul meant when he said, “Faith to faith.” Our responsibility is to have faith to take our desire for right living to the Lord for His help; to do our part. Then when we struggle, have enough faith to take it to the Lord again and again if necessary. It’s not a “12 Step Program” for recovery, rather it’s a one step program which might need to be faithfully repeated 12 times — one faithful act leading to the next.
Right living is obtained by living from one faithful act to the next. What faithful act do you need to repeat to gain righteousness?
THE POCKET TESTMENT LEAGUE