The statement from Habakkuk 2:4 that is repeated three times in the New Testament is a key connecting link between the two Testaments and highlights the fact that faith is the basis of a relationship with God, even under the law. That New Testament posting of the verse is first repeated by Paul in Romans 1:17:
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”
Paul also repeated it again in Galatians 3:11: “But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for: ‘The just shall live by faith.’”
And again, it is repeated in Hebrews 10:38, but with an added qualifier for our understanding and application:
“Now, ‘the Just shall live by faith.’ But if he draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.’”
So, we can see that the faith that pleases God is one that is active, stepping out on the basis of trust that the promises of God are real and true.
James writes in James 2:17: “Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself.”
Read the “does not have” phrase as, “has no activity or application” in one’s life. Many people say, “I have faith that…(whatever)” yet the Word says, “the just shall live by faith” and he must not draw back from exercising that faith in his personal life.
Simple enough, right?
Well, let’s explore the nature and characteristics of that faith that pleases God. Hebrews 11:6 is our focal point:
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Pleasing faith must believe that God is. Is what? That He exists? Yes, but much more than that is present in that little word, “is.” That God is, for one with true faith, carries a tremendous amount of encouragement when coupled with the latter part of the verse, that He is a rewarder.
That God is a “good.” God is nowhere near the reality of who He is, particularly in relationship to the believer. Who is it who knows every hair of your head (apparently He keeps track of every detail of our lives)?
When Moses, apparently trying to backpedal on his looming call for commitment, he asked God, “Whom shall I say sent me?” In response to the voice from the burning bush that had said, “You are to go and lead my people out of bondage in Egypt.” And, God replied, “Tell them I AM sent you.” Similarly we may ask, “I AM what? The Bible tells us in John 3:27, “A man can receive nothing unless it is given to him from heaven.” God says I AM your source for everything you need. It stands to reason—He created everything. And, just by His spoken Word—He did it!
So, God is; He exists and He is the source of whatever the believer needs, and…He is also the source of whatever the non-believer needs, as well. What is your need today? Tangible and physical—see Matthew 6:33:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
Is it emotional and spiritual? Philippians 4:6-7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Now, believing that God exists-the agnostics stop there, and so do the demons, but they tremble, for they also know who He really is, too (see James 2:19). For believers, that part of “diligently seeking Him” is a lot closer to an opposite of the “drawing back” caveat in Hebrews 10:38. It calls for action on our part, but what does “diligent” mean?
Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And you shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
And Jesus told the woman at the well:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
With consistency, regularity and honesty, I see this as seeking God directly, through Jesus, as a Person in all of His eternal being, and for Himself; no physical trappings to be involved, for He is Spirit.
Worshipping God in truth would involve looking to Him for who He is and what He has done, not seeking His favor for some selfish purpose. In that Hebrews 11:6 verse, it tells us that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. Is that not enough? So many other passages confirm that principle of His benevolence.
In Philippians 2:12-13 there are some words of great encouragement: “Cultivate your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
Another translation says, “Work out your own salvation” and more closely identifies this as an ongoing process. Our faith that is pleasing to God connects with the Spirit of God living in us and He, then, “restores our soul and leads us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake,” as Psalm 23:3 says.
And I close with this reminder from 2 Corinthians 1:20: “For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God by us.”
The faith that pleases God is one that believes God is who He claims to be and that He honors all of His promises.