Hebrews 10:38
But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him."
All Do not Reach Home Who Set Out for ItS. Rutherford.Hebrews 10:38
Description of FaithChurchman's MonthlyHebrews 10:38
FaithF. B. Meyer, B. A.Hebrews 10:38
Life by FaithW. Jones Hebrews 10:38
Living by FaithG. Lawson.Hebrews 10:38
Moral RelapseScientific Illustrations and SymbolsHebrews 10:38
Of Living by FaithD. Clarkson, B. D.Hebrews 10:38
On ApostasyA. Ramsay, M. A.Hebrews 10:38
On FaithG. Carr, B. A.Hebrews 10:38
Religious DeclensionE. Cooper, M. A.Hebrews 10:38
The Christian's Life of FaithHomilistHebrews 10:38
The Danger of Apostasy from the True ReligionArchbp. Tillotson.Hebrews 10:38
The Just Man and His LifeThe Evangelical PreacherHebrews 10:38
The Life of FaithS. Coley.Hebrews 10:38
The Vital ForceC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 10:38
Those Who are Justified by Faith are Heirs or LifeA. B. Parker.Hebrews 10:38
Transgressions and InfirmitiesJ. H. Newman, D. D.Hebrews 10:38
Now the just shall live by faith. In this place our text means that by persevering faith the righteous man would be saved fully and to the end. He who continued in the exercise of faith would be kept safely amidst all dangers and all temptations to apostasy, and inherit the recompense of reward, But we propose to regard the text as the statement of a general truth of the Christian life, as St. Paul uses it in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11. Thus viewed, it presents to our notice -

I. THE CHARACTER SPECIFIED. This is marked by two leading features.

1. Righteousness. "The just," or righteous. The righteousness of the Christian is

(1) in character. He possesses the forgiveness of sins, and is accepted by God through Jesus Christ. The apostle of the Gentiles sets forth this righteousness: "That I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own," etc. (Philippians 3:9). The righteousness of the Christian is

(2) in conduct. "He that doeth righteousness, is righteous" (1 John 3:7, 10).

2. Religiousness. The Revised Version gives our text thus: "But my righteous one shall live by faith." This we regard as the correct text. It sets before us one who is godly as well as just, whose righteousness is joined with reverence, and is exalted by the union. A man cannot be righteous towards God without being religious. Unless we worship and love and obey him, we do him injustice. In the Christian character piety and principle, righteousness and reverence, must go hand in band.

II. THE LIFE MENTIONED. We are not acquainted with a satisfactory definition of life. The things of deepest significance and greatest importance defy our powers of definition. So we cannot set forth adequately in a sentence the life spoken of in the text. It is far more than physical and intellectual existence and activity. "Knowledge, truth, love, beauty, goodness, faith, alone can give vitality to the mechanism of existence." The life of true personal religion is that which our text speaks of. It is the life of supreme love to God, the life of Christ in man. "Christ," says Canon Liddon, "is the quickening Spirit of Christian humanity; he lives in Christians; he thinks in Christians; he acts through Christians and with Christians; he is indissolubly associated with every movement of the Christian's deepest life. 'I live,' exclaims the apostle; 'yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' This felt presence of Christ it is which gives both its form and its force to the sincere Christian life. That life is a loyal homage of the intellect, of the heart, and of the will, to a Divine King, with whom will, heart, and intellect are in close and constant communion, and from whom there flows forth, through the Spirit and the sacraments, that supply of light, of love, and of resolve which enriches and ennobles the Christian soul."

III. THE MEANS OF THIS LIFE. "Shall live by faith." Brief consideration of two points is essential.

1. The nature of this faith. It is far more than the assent of the reason, or apprehension by the reason. It is a moral rather than an intellectual act. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." "When the soul in very truth responds to the message of God, the complete responsive act of faith is threefold. This act proceeds simultaneously from the intelligence, from the heart, and from the will of the believer. His intelligence recognizes the unseen object as a fact. His heart embraces the object thus present to his understanding; his heart opens instinctively and unhesitatingly to receive a ray of heavenly light. And his will too resigns itself to the truth before it; it places the soul at the disposal of the object which thus rivets its eye and conquers its affections."

2. The Object of this faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself is the grand Object of the faith of the Christian. We accept him in the three great relationships which he sustains to his true disciples. As our Prophet we exercise faith in him. He claimed to be "the Truth." On all questions of morality and religion, of sin and salvation, of life and death, we bow to him as our infallible Teacher, and unhesitatingly accept his Word. We believe in him as our Priest. He has made full atonement for sins; he is our perfect Representative with the Father; he is our tender, compassionate Savior. To him the heart turns in its sins for forgiveness, in its sorrows for consolation. We loyally accept him also as our King. He is the Sovereign of our will and the Lord of our life. We believe in him as our moral Master, whose authority is supreme. Thus Christ is the Object of the Christian's faith. "By faith the soul is to be moving ever towards Christ, resting ever upon Christ, living ever in Christ. Christ is to be the end, the support, the very atmosphere of its life." He who thus believes in him shall have eternal life (John 3:10; Ephesians 2:8). - W.J.

The just shall live by faith.
There is a slight transposition in the words of our text, which is warranted by the original Greek, and which, while it does not materially affect the meaning of the passage, appears to set it in a clearer light. We may read the text thus — "The just by faith shall live." The expression is descriptive of a child of God. The "just," or "justified man," is not merely a person who is equitable in all his dealings, and who maintains a character for honesty, but one who has received by faith the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has been renewed in the spirit of his mind by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I. THE JUSTIFIED MAN SHALL LIVE IS THIS WORLD. A man's outward condition forms no correct criterion by which we may ascertain the measure of his acceptance with God. The possession of riches and honours does not necessarily imply that the possessor is the favourite of heaven, or that he is peaceful and happy in his own mind. How often do we see the true Christian labouring under the pressure of poverty — struggling hard against the tide of adverse circumstances; or if, in a higher sphere of society, he engages in the pursuits of business, "all things are against him," and every exertion which he makes proves painfully abortive. But in the midst of all these vicissitudes he "lives," and his is a happy life. Again, behold the believer when he is stretched upon the bed of sickness. He may be exhausted by weakness, or racked by pain, yet "he lives." Though a dark cloud passes over him his soul is serene. Again, behold the Christian in the day of persecution. It is to this point the apostle makes special allusion in the context. The early disciples of the blessed Jesus derived no worldly advantage from the profession of their faith in Him. What enabled them to sustain the rage of their persecutors? It was faith in their Master — it was confidence in His promises. And in one word, what in every age has supported the people of God under the pressure of calamity, or the prospect of a dying hour? Not certainly the remembrance of the good they had done, or the glory they had achieved — not the contemplation of their own merits, or their moral and intellectual attainments, but simply the inwrought principle of a living faith — that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

II. THE JUSTIFIED MAN SHALL LIVE IS THE WORLD TO COME. Faith, indeed, is not the procuring cause of eternal life. The possession of faith gives us no absolute or inherent claim on the Almighty for the pardon. It is merely the instrument of our justification. It is the link that connects us with the Saviour, and in virtue of this connection we receive every blessing we enjoy. Eternal life is the purchase of the Saviour's sacrifice.

(A. B. Parker.)

These words are used four times (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11, and here). In the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians they respect justification, Paul making use of them to prove that we are justified by faith. In Habakkuk 2:4, and the text, they respect our conversation, and hold forth what should support a righteous man in all dangers and necessities.

I. WHAT IS IT TO LIVE BY FAITH? This living by faith is not a single and transient act, but something habitual and permanent. And therefore its nature, as of other habits, will best appear in its acts and objects.

1. The acts of faith. The Scripture holds them forth under the notion of dependence and recumbency. And we may thus describe it: living by faith is constant dependence on God as one without whom we cannot live. Three things concur to its constitution.(1) A sense and acknowledgment that we cannot live without God. This is presupposed. Our life depends on Him; and it is our life to depend, life in its latitude; life and all that pertains to it; life and livelihood; life of body and soul; in its being and well-being; in its being and actings, and all that maintain it in both. God is that to the soul which the soul is to the body, enlivens it and acts it; so Christ quickens and acts the soul.(2) There is a relying on God for all these, for continuance of what we have, and supply of what we want; rolling ourselves and the burden of our affairs on God. This is the formal act of faith.(3) Constancy, frequency. It is a continued thing; a life of faith, not one act of believing; a whole life of acts. Since we always stand upon the brink of sin and death, and have no security from falling but God's maintaining and our apprehending of Him, we should continually depend and hang upon God, never let go our hold.

2. The object of faith is God in Christ as made known in His attributes, offices, relations, promises, and providences. We may refer the objects and support of faith to these heads.(1) Divine attributes. Those are the pillows and grounds of faith, rocks of eternity, upon which faith may securely repose: "Though the earth shall be removed," &c.(2) The offices of Christ. These are strong supports to faith as any though less made use of: in special His —

(a)Priestly office (Hebrews 4:14-16).

(b)Regal office (Acts 5:31).

(c)Prophetical office (Deuteronomy 18:15).(3) Mutual relations betwixt God and His people. These are the sweet food of faith, which, digested, nourish it into strength, and enable it to vigorous actings; and to this end we find them frequently used by the saints (Psalm 119:94; Jeremiah 14:9); and from particular relations: servant Psalm 143:12; Jeremiah 3:14); Father (Isaiah 63:15). "Doubtless Thou art our Father"; where there are the strongest actings of faith upon divers relations.(4) Promises. These and faith are so usually joined as though they were relatives. These are the wells of salvation out of which faith draws joy, &c.(5) Providences of God are objects and encouragements to, faith. The consideration of what He has done for others, and for themselves, has supported the saints. These are the hands of God stretched out on which faith takes hold (Psalm 119:132; 1 Samuel 17:37; 2 Timothy 4:17, 18).

II. How DO THEY, HOW MUST WE LIVE, BY FAITH? Here I shall give particular directions how faith may act with most advantage upon its several objects formerly propounded, and show what encouragement faith may find from them in all its actings.

1. Attributes of God. For the direction and encouragement of faith in acting upon them, observe eight particulars:(1) Study the attributes. Labour to know them distinctly, effectually. Though faith be not knowledge, yet it is not without it. Nay, the more we know the more we believe (Psalm 9:10).(2) Assure thy interest in the attributes. Let thy knowledge be applicatory. Be not satisfied that thou seest God, till thou see Him .to be thine; what He is in Himself, but what He is to thee.(3) When thou art acting thy faith, so methodise the attributes of God as thou mayest thereby prove and make it evident to faith that God is both able and willing to do what thou wouldst believe. That God is willing and able are two handles on which both the hands of faith may take hold, and so act more strongly (as we do) than if it use but one. A man ready to drown, if he can lay hold upon anything with both hands to keep him from sinking, is more secure than if he can but stay himself by one. Faith is but weak when it fastens but upon one of these; the doubting of either will keep off faith from its steadfastness.(4) Let faith fix on that attribute which is most suitable to thy condition. And here faith may meet with many encouragements: first, there is no condition thou canst possibly fall into but some attributes afford support; secondly, there is enough in that attribute to uphold thee, as much as thou standest in need of, as much as thou canst desire; thirdly, there is infinitely more; though thy condition were worse than it is, worse than ever any was, yet there is more than thou needest, more than thou canst desire, more than thou canst imagine, infinitely more. Some one attribute will answer all thy necessities; some most, some many. For, first, some of God's attributes encourage faith in every condition. Omnipotency. When thou art surrounded with troubles and dangers there is the power of God to rely on; so Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20.). Art thou afraid to fall away? Stay thyself on God's power: "We are kept by the power of God through faith." Omnisciency, Wantest thou direction, knowest not what to do, at thy wit's end? Eye Omniscieney (2 Chronicles 20:12). Fearest thou secret plots of Satan, crafty conveyances of wicked men, such as no eye can see or discover? Trust omnisciency. Immensity. Art thou deserted by friends, or separated from them by imprisonment, banishment, infectious diseases? Let faith eye immensity; as Christ, "Yet I am not alone," &c. All-sufficiency. Let faith set this against all thy wants. I want riches, but the Lord is all-sufficient; liberty, children, friends, credit, health; He is liberty, &c. I want grace, the means of grace, comfort; He is these. Dost thou fear death? The Lord is life. Dost thou fear casting off? The Lord is unchangeable. Mercy. This will hold when all fail. It is the strength of all other supports, and that in all conditions. It bears up faith when nothing else can, under the guilt of sin and sense of wrath; in misery, that is the time when faith should eye mercy. Hence you may argue strength into faith. If one attribute answer many, yea, all conditions, will not all answer one? Secondly, there is enough in any one attribute to support thee as much as thou needest or desirest, let thy corruptions be never so strong, thy wants never so many. Thirdly, there is more than enough that thou needest or canst desire; more than is necessary for thy condition, for a worse than thine, for the worst that ever was.(5) There is no condition possible but some attribute encourages faith; so there is nothing in God that discourages faith in any condition, the most formidable condition.(6) Learn to draw arguments for confirmation of faith in acting upon attributes. These we may raise: first, from ourselves, laying this ground, that whatever engages God encourages faith; for it is easier to believe that one will act for us who is engaged, than one who has no inducement thereto. Secondly, from the attributes themselves separately considered. To instance in two that faith makes most use of power and mercy. Power renders everything easy. This consideration much strengthens faith. Then for mercy this pleases Him. "He delights to show mercy." Now can we doubt the Lord will do that for us which He delights to do? (Jeremiah 9:24). Thirdly, from attributes associated. We may doubt of creature power because it is limited, but He is omnipotent. The creature may have strength but want wisdom, and this may disable him, and weaken our confidence; but God is omniscient. A friend may have strength and wisdom too, but may be far from us; oh, but He is omnipresent. A man may have all these but be prevented by death; but God is eternal. A man may have power, wisdom, propinquity, life, but not be willing; but God is merciful, gracious, compassionate, and joins other attributes to His mercy, the more to confirm faith. Fourthly, from God's design in manifesting His attributes, viz., His glory. Here is a stronghold for faith.(7) Compare the attributes with what men usually trust, and see how infinitely they transcend; how much more reason there is to rely on God's attributes than on riches, strength, princes.(8) Learn from the attributes to answer all objections that may discourage faith, viz., I cannot believe, have used all means, &c.; God is able to work faith. But my own impotency is moral, sinful, contracted by sin; God is merciful. But I am unworthy; He is gracious. But I have turned grace into wantonness; He is patient. But I have abused patience, and what reason to expect He should longer forbear me? His love. But I have played the harlot; He is unchangeable.

2. The offices of Christ. To direct and encourage faith herein, take the rules:(1) Acquaint thyself with the offices of Christ, what they contain and hold forth to us and for us.(a) Kingly office.

1. As He is King He is lawgiver; writes laws in our hearts. Gives not only laws to be obeyed, but hearts to obey; laws for obedience and principles of obedience.

2. To subdue our enemies (Psalm 2:6, 8), our lusts, the world, the powers of darkness. He will bruise them with a rod of iron.

3. To rule us. The government is on His shoulders. He sets His throne in our hearts, and takes care that we live under His government in peace, plenty, safety; peace of conscience, plenty of grace, perseverance.(b) Prophetical. To declare His Father's will, to make us understand it; to enlighten our minds; to send the Spirit of Truth to clear up obscurities, resolve doubts, remove scruples, satisfy cases of conscience.(c) As priest. So He suffered and intercedes. His sufferings are both satisfactory and meritorious.(2) These offices are purely relative; wholly ours, for us, in reference to us; relative both in their constitution and execution. He was made King, Priest, &c., for us, and does exercise these for us.(3) These being the offices of Christ, He is to perform them ex officio as a duty. He who was independent, and stood in no need of us, was pleased, for the encouragement of our faith, to come under the engagement of a duty.(4) Christ, as He is Mediator, is both God and man, and executes His offices as Mediator. Here then faith hath all the encouragement that both heaven and earth can afford.(5) Let faith begin first to act on the priestly circe. This is the basis of the other. Persuade thyself that He is thy Priest, and it will be easy to believe Him thy King and Prophet. If He have executed that He will execute these.(6) They are adequate to our conditions. This is necessary for the life of faith, that in every condition possible it have something to rely on.(7) Consider how affectionately Christ executed these offices on earth, and it will be a strong ground to believe He will not neglect them in heaven.(8) The Father and the Spirit are engaged for the execution of these offices.

3. Promises. How faith may act with most advantage upon promises, and get support and encouragement from them in its actings.(1) Consider the latitude of them- There are promises suitable to all estates.(2) Collect the promises, treasure them up, methodise them aright, meditate on them; many in one.(3) Accustom yourselves to a holy kind of discourse and reasoning. Faith does not abolish but improve reason.(4) Confine not God in His performances to things, degrees, times, or persons.(5) As to conditional promises, if you have the qualification in sincerity, let not the want of degrees discourage you from application. The lowest degree of grace entitles to the promise.(6) He that can lay just claim to one promise has interest in all; he that can apply any one, has property in every one.(7) The Lord's word is more valuable in His account than all His works; He will suffer all the works of His hands to perish rather than fail in the least degree to perform the most inconsiderable promise.(8) Persuade thyself that God had a particular respect to thee in every promise.(9) Consider, it is all one with God to do as to say, to perform as to promise; it is as easy, He is as willing, as able, to one as the other.(10) Believers have a just and unquestionable title to all things promised besides that title which the promise conveys. They have right to them, and therefore have no reason to doubt but the gracious God will bestow them, especially when He has confirmed the former title by promise. All that is promised was bequeathed to believers by the eternal will of the Father, and purchased for them by the precious blood of Christ, and they are instated therein by many endearing and interesting relations. They have as much right thereto as an heir to his inheritance, or a wife to her jointure; for they are co-heirs with Christ and married to Him (1 Corinthians 3:23).

(D. Clarkson, B. D.)

I. The first instructions in Christian knowledge inform us of THE IMPORTANCE AND NECESSITY OF FAITH TO OUR ETERNAL HAPPINESS. We are assured that the just shall live by faith; and that without it it is impossible to please God.

1. It seems absolutely essential to the nature, and necessary to the design and success of a Divine revelation, that the messenger of it should, upon producing sufficient evidence and proper attestations from Heaven, insist upon an acknowledgment of its truth, as proceeding from that Being who cannot deceive His creatures, whose admonitions would not be offered but for our advantage, and whose authority cannot be disobeyed without danger.

2. The principal reason why faith is so indispensably required and declared to be the condition of salvation is because it is the surest principle of holiness, the basis of obedience, the natural foundation of universal virtue. If, for instance, we believe in our hearts, and are persuaded of the existence of a God, supremely powerful, wise, and good, possessed of every conceivable and possible perfection, we cannot but reverence and adore a nature so infinitely superior; and every sentiment of our heart must pay homage to Him. If we apprehend Him to be the original of good, the fountain of mercy, we shall be naturally led to acknowledge His goodness in all the expressions of worship, praise, submission, and obedience. If we believe that He sent His Son into the world to purchase, on certain conditions, the pardon of our sins, and an eternity of happiness; we must think ourselves obliged to obey the precepts of His doctrine, to imitate the examples of His life, to comply with the conditions required, and be grateful for so amazing an expression of mercy.


1. If faith be the ground of holiness we may hence learn the reason of the general prevalence of iniquity in the world; which is a want of faith, or want of attention to the objects of it.

2. If faith he subservient to holiness, and derive its value from its efficacy and influence on our manners, we may hence learn to estimate the intrinsic value of every doctrine, and to weigh the degrees of malignity and danger in particular errors. Doctrines are valuable in proportion to their moral importance, or subservience to virtue; in proportion to their influence in inclining us to preserve in our minds a constant sense of our dependence on our Maker, and of the duties we owe Him, and of our obligations to observe integrity, and justice, and equity, and charity, in all our dealings.

3. If the design of faith was to lead us to the practice of all righteousness let us not rest our hopes of salvation on a bare acknowledgment or belief of the gospel, in an ineffectual barren faith, productive of no virtue, but let our faith have its proper influence; let our manners correspond with our principles, and let us live as we believe.

(G. Carr, B. A.)


1. Doth not the text plainly teach us that faith is the continued act of the Christian? Just as long as he lives here below, if he doth live to God at all, he lives by faith.

2. Faith is a great practical virtue. The text does not say that the just man shall study the doctrine of faith in his retirement, and be able to frame a correct definition of what faith is. It is true that the just man should be meditative, studious, a man well instructed in the history of revelation and the mystery of the kingdom of God; but that is not what the text saith. It doth not say that the just man shall converse about faith, and make the object of faith the constant theme of his discourse. It will be so: what is in the heart will be sure to come out in the tongue. But that is not the truth taught here. In plain English, it is this — the righteous man will carry his faith into his ordinary life. He will live by faith.

3. Faith hath a great quickening power over all the faculties of the spiritual man. This is the Prometheus that stole the heavenly flame, and brought it down to men made of clay, and made them live the lives of the immortals. This it is that brings immortality to us through Jesus, who brought life and immortality to light. Whenever faith rules in a man it quickens all his graces. The believer is the man to love — to love his God, his neighbour, his enemy. The believer is the man to hope — to hope for deliverance out of present affliction; to hope for the eternal outgoing of the issues of all this life's battle and strife. If there be any patience, if there be any forgiveness, if their be any generosity, if there be any loving-kindness, if there be any zeal, if there be anything lovely and of good repute, all these are quickened and brought out into their life and force according to the life and power and energy of the faith which a man possesses.

4. Turning this doctrine over in rather a different form, but still keeping to it, let me say that the believer lives only by faith. All other kinds of living are to him spiritual death.

II. A PROMISE. My faith shall ensure my life. Oh, 'tis joy to have faith that makes you immortal! The faith of the just shall constrain them to live. They cannot die; they must not die. God Himself shall as soon die as they shall. The just shall live by faith. This is not true of any other but those who have faith. You know the story I have told you sometimes, of the good old soul whose minister called to see her when she was dying, and amongst other things he said to her, "My sister, you are very weak; don't you feel yourself sinking?" She looked at him, and gave no answer, but said, "Did I understand you, minister? Please tell me what you said; I hope you didn't say what I thought I heard?" "Why," said he, "my dear sister, I said to you, don't you feel yourself sinking?" And then she said, "I did not think my minister would ever ask me such a question as that! Sinking? Did you ever know a sinner sink through a rock? I am believing in Jesus Christ; if I were resting anywhere else I might sink, but as I am resting upon Him, did you ever know a sinner sink through a rock?" Yes, and that is just the very point. It is so. God does in the very words of our text seem to assure us that if we believe, we have got on a rock, that if we believe, we shall live. We shall live by our faith under all circumstances and difficulties.

III. A KIND OF PRECEPT. IS it not clear that as life is the main thing for us to look to, nature itself having taught us by its instincts to guard with all care our life, therefore our faith, upon which our life so evidently depends by virtue of our union to Christ, ought to be the object of our most sedulous care. Anything which comes in the way of our faith we should strive against, while the promotion of our faith should be our first endeavour.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Evangelical Preacher.

1. The term "just" not used in its comparative and popular sense. It is so used sometimes in the sacred Scriptures, as in Romans 5:7. There are those who are "just before men." Their words are true, their promises faithfully kept, their actions irreproachable. Measure them by the Divine standard, and they dwarf down to nothing; see them as God sees them, and all their righteousness is as filthy rags.

2. Not in its strictly legal sense. There was a time when there were just men on earth; that time was brief. There are just men "made perfect," but they are before the throne of God, and serve Him in His temple. There are none on earth now.

3. The term is used in the evangelical sense — justified.(1) Not to make just. The term is a law term, and has a proper legal meaning, which is,(2) To pronounce just (Deuteronomy 25:1; Romans 3:4; Exodus 23:7). How, then, can it apply to us? We give the satisfactory reply in the language of the apostle (Romans 3:21-24).

4. This declaration is connected with the faith of the justified person. Luther at one period suffered so much from a sense of sin, that his health rapidly gave way. An old monk entered his cell and spoke kindly. He knew little but his creed, which contained something that gave him comfort, and he said in his simplicity, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins." Luther repeated, "I believe in the forgiveness of gins." "Ah!" said the monk, "you must not only believe that David's or Peter's sins are forgiven — the devils believe that. The commandment of God is, that we believe our own sins forgiven. Hear what the Holy Ghost says: 'Thy sins are forgiven thee.'" He renounced the thought of meriting salvation, and trusted with confidence in God's grace in Christ Jesus.

II. THE LIFE HE ENJOYS. He "shall live by faith."

1. Observe the import of this assurance. "There is, then," said Luther, after studying these words, "for the just another life than that possessed by the rest of men, and this life is the fruit of faith." What is that other life? The elements of life are(1) Sensation and perception. There is a world of sense for the natural man; there is an ideal world of speculation for the philosopher; there is a spiritual world for the believer. It has another sun, other produce, other inhabitants (Hebrews 12:22, 23). It is life to see this spiritual world, and faith is the eye that sees it (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10).(2) There are vital functions which are necessary for its support. A tree or an animal live because they can derive nourishment from the material world. "As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." Christ says, "I have meat to eat which the world knoweth not of," and He promises to His disciples that He will give them the hidden manna. How different are the Bible, the sanctuary, godly discourse, sermons, means and ordinances to the believer and the unbeliever! All these exercises are conducted by faith.(3) There is activity. The missionary Luther was distinguished for his zeal. The Thessalonians from whom the Word sounded out. The heroes in Hebrews 11. all worked by faith.(4) There is enjoyment. Healthy life produces enjoyment. This is a common use of the term "life" as distinguished from mere existence (Romans 5:1-5). Whence we see that true happiness flows from faith.

2. The truth of this assurance.(1) God has said it (Philippians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Peter 1:5).(2) He has provided for it (Colossians 1:19; John 14:19; Galatians 2:20; John 1:16).(3) History and experience prove it. Whenever Christ has been exalted, the Church has lived. Do you not feel that as you look to Him you live?Application:

1. Sinner, are you dead? This voice bids you live by faith.

2. Let believers cleave to this doctrine.

(The Evangelical Preacher.)


1. As found in Christ.

2. As conformed to Christ.

3. As practically just. Their faith produces good works; they are honest, upright, abhor evil, and cleave to that which is good.

II. THE FACT AFFIRMED. "Shall live by faith."

1. Because by faith they are united to Christ, and derive from Him all needful influence.

2. Because faith anticipates the glories of heaven, preparatory to which the Christian contest is carried on.

3. Because faith overcomes temptation.


1. They live by faith in the darkest seasons.

2. They live a holy and pleasant life, because faith brings into exercise all other Christian graces.

3. By faith they live in constant expectation of heaven.


1. We have faith, which is a Divine practical assent unto the saving truths of the gospel, and a reliance upon the promises of God.

2. Upon faith followeth righteousness; for the just have faith, and are just and justified by faith: for by "just" are here meant the justified by faith according to the tenour of the new covenant. For man being sinful and guilty cannot be justified by his own innocence, purity, inherent righteousness, and perfect obedience. For he that hath faith is just; he that continueth in faith, continueth just; and he that is finally believing is finally just.

3. As guilty man is just by faith, so being just he shall live by faith. By life in this place is meant a spiritual, happy, and eternal life; the life of glory, which is the great reward, which will certainly follow upon final faith; for it is faith which, by virtue of Christ's merit and God's promise, gives a right to life; and upon a final faith, the possession and full enjoyment of this blessed life doth certainly follow. The duty therefore which the apostle urgeth is final perseverance in faith; and the motive whereby he seeks to stir them up to performance is the certain fall possession of the great rewards for which he allegeth God's own Word and promise recorded in the prophet. And if they will hearken unto God speaking by the prophet, and take His Word and promise, there is great reason why they should persevere.

(G. Lawson.)

Faith consists of two parts: Belief, which accepts certain declarations as true, and trust in the person about whom those declarations are made. Neither will do without the other. On the one hand, we cannot trust a person without knowing something about him; on the other hand, your knowledge will not help you unless it leads to trust, any more than it avails the shivering wretch outside the Bank of England to know that the vaults are stored with gold. A mere intellectual faith is not enough. The holding of a creed will not save. We must pass from a belief in words to trust in the Word. By faith we know that Jesus lives, and by faith we also appropriate that life. By faith we know that Jesus made on the Cross a propitiation for sin, and by faith we lay our hand reverently on His dear head and confess our sin. Faith is the open hand receiving Christ. Faith is the golden pipe through which His fulness comes to us. Faith is the narrow channel by which the life that pulses in the Redeemer's heart enters our souls. Faith is the attitude we assume when we turn aside from the human to the Divine.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

Have you ever thought of the life of a child? Why, the life of a child is a perfect life of faith. That little child — what can that little child do? Why that little child could not find its way to the street end and back again. It would be lost if you trusted it alone. That little child could not find the next meal. If you left that little child it would die of want. That little child could not furnish a shelter for its own head to-night; and yet, has that little child any fear about it? Has that little child any sort of alarm about it? Not at all! How comes it that the child's life is the happy life it is? Because, instinctively and beautifully, it is a life of faith. That child could not buy the next loaf, but it has a firm belief that "father" can. That child could not provide for itself the garments for to-morrow, but it has an unbounded belief in "father's" power to do it, and "mother's" power to do it. That child could not do it for itself one day, but it never costs that child a moment's concern. Its life is a life of perfect faith in its parents.

(S. Coley.)

Churchman's Monthly.
Mr. Stewart, in his Journal of a Residence in the Sandwich Islands, relates, that whilst on board a ship sailing from America to those Islands, he felt it his duty to instruct the sailors; and he had several proofs that his labours were not in vain. One sailor named R , had been brought to trust in Christ for salvation; and shortly after meeting with another who was anxiously inquiring the way of salvation, he thus addressed him, "It was just so with myself once; I did not know what faith was, or how to obtain it; but I know now what it is, and I believe I possess it. But I do not know that I can tell you what it is, or how to get it. I can tell you what it is not; it is not knocking off swearing, and drinking, and such like; and it is not reading the Bible, nor praying, nor being good: it is none of these; for even if they were to answer for the time to come, there is the old score still, and how are you to get clear of that? It is not anything you have done or can do: it is only believing and trusting to what Christ has done: it is forsaking your sins, and looking for their pardon and the salvation of your soul, because He died and shed His blood for sin: and it is nothing else."

(Churchman's Monthly.)

If any man draw back.
By the expression " to draw back," must certainly be understood a total and final apostasy, as is evident from ver. 39.

1. Some who once were accounted disciples of Christ have drawn back into open profanity and infidelity (2 Peter 2:20, 21). Persons of this character, who have stifled conviction, and hold the truth in unrighteousness, become generally the most hardened and daring in wickedness. Common restraints are removed — the voice of conscience is silenced — the Spirit of God ceases to strive, and they are given over to a reprobate mind — to fill up the measure of their iniquities, and at last to perish in unbelief.

2. Others who apostatise from Christ fall into gross and dangerous errors (2 Timothy 2:17, 18). I add —

3. There is still a more secret and disguised kind of apostasy, which is not on that account the less ruinous; I mean when persons who have once had a profession of religion become careless, lose all zeal about the things of God and eternity, and discover a proportionable eagerness in worldly pursuits. This is a way of apostatising from Christ the more dangerous, because it is the least apt to be perceived. The decay is so gradual and insensible. They have changed their views, their manners, their company. Perhaps some alteration in their outward circumstances has produced these unhappy effects. Raised from a state of dependence to wealth, their minds have been intoxicated with worldly prosperity; and by a strange kind of infatuation. Or, perhaps, without any visible cause, their profession of religion has gradually declined, and their devotion to the service of their God and Saviour proved as the morning cloud and early dew, which soon pass away. After maintaining for a while an appearance of serious godliness, they have gradually sunk into sloth, possibly into bad habits, which deaden every religious feeling.In conclusion:

1. Let gratitude to the Redeemer for the blessings you have received constrain you to cleave to Him with full purpose of heart.

2. Let a regard to your best interests urge you to cleave steadfastly to Christ. Solid sense and real piety, instead of being incompatible, are closely and intimately united.

3. Let the dreadful doom of apostates deter you from the aggravated sin of drawing back from Christ.

(A. Ramsay, M. A.)

I. THE NATURE OF THIS SIN. TO make a man an apostate, it is not necessary that a man should solemnly renounce his baptism and declare Christianity to be false; there are several other ways whereby a man may bring himself under this guilt; as by a silent quitting of his religion, and withdrawing himself from the communion of all that profess it; by denying an essential doctrine of Christianity; by undermining the great design of it, by teaching doctrines which directly tend to encourage men in impenitence, and a wicked course of life.

II. THE SEVERAL SORTS AND DEGREES OF APOSTASY. The highest of all is the renouncing Christianity, or of some essential part of it, which is a virtual apostasy from it; but there are several tendencies towards this which they who are guilty of are in some degree guilty of this sin.

1. Indifferency in religion, and want of all sort of concernment for it; when a man, though he never quitted his religion, yet is so little concerned for it, that a very small occasion or temptation would make him do it.

2. Withdrawing from the public marks and testimonies of the profession of religion, by forsaking the assemblies of Christians for the worship and service of God; to withdraw ourselves from those, for fear of danger or suffering, is a kind of denial of our religion.

3. A light temper of mind, which easily receives impressions from those who lie in wait to deceive and seduce men from the truth.

4. A departure from the purity of the Christian doctrine and worship in a gross and notorious manner.

III. THE HEINOUSNESS OF THIS SIN. What an affront it is to God, and how great a contempt of Him!

IV. THE TERRIBLE PUNISHMENT IT EXPOSES MEN TO. This sin is placed in the highest rank of pardonable sins, and next to the sin against the Holy Ghost, which our Saviour declares to be absolutely unpardonable. And indeed the Scripture speaks very doubtfully of the pardonableness of this sin (Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20, 21; 1 John 5:16).

(Archbp. Tillotson.)

Warnings such as this would not be contained in Scripture, were there no danger of our drawing back, and thereby losing that "life" in God's presence which faith secures to us. Faith is the tenure upon which this Divine life is continued to us: by faith the Christian lives, but if he draws back he dies; his faith profits him nothing; or rather, his drawing back to sin is a reversing of his faith; after which God has no pleasure in him. And yet, clearly as this is stated in Scripture, men in all ages have fancied that they might sin grievously, yet maintain their Christian hope. Now I quite grant that there are sins which faith is the means of blotting out continually, so that the "just" still "lives" in God's sight in spite of them. There is no one but sins continually so far as this, that all that he does might be more perfect, entire, blameless than it is. We are all encompassed by infirmities, weaknesses, ignorances; and all these besetting sins are certainly, as Scripture assures us, pardoned on our faith; but it is another thing to assert this of greater and more grievous sins, or what may be called transgressions. For faith keeps us from transgressions, and they who transgress, for that very reason, have not true and lively faith; and, therefore, it avails them nothing that faith, as Scripture says, is imputed to Christians for righteousness, for they have not faith. Instead of faith blotting out transgressions, transgressions blot out faith.

1. No one surely can doubt that there are sins which exclude a man, while he is under their power, from salvation (see 1 John 3:8, 10; Philippians 3:18, 19; Galatians 5:4).(1) All habits of vice are such (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10).(2) Next, it is fearful to think (fearful, because, among ourselves at this day, men are almost blind to the sin), that covetousness is mentioned (Ephesians 5:5) in connection with sins of the flesh, as incurring forfeiture of grace equally with them. This accords with our Lord's warning, "ye cannot serve God and mammon;" as much as to say, If you serve mammon, you forthwith quit God's service; you cannot serve two masters at once; you have passed into the kingdom of mammon, that is, of Satan.(3) All violent breaches of the law of charity are inconsistent with a state of grace. "Thieves, revilers, and extortioners." "Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and murderers."(4) And in like manner all profaneness, heresy, and false worship (Hebrews 12:16; Galatians 1:8).(5) And further, hardness of heart, or going against light (Hebrews 4:7, 11). Such are greater sins or transgressions. They are here specified, not as forming a complete list of such sins, which indeed cannot be given, but in proof of what ought not to be doubted, that there are sins which are not found in persons in a state of grace.

2. That there are sins of infirmity, or such as do not throw the soul out of a state of salvation, is evident directly it is granted that there are sins which do; for no one will pretend to say that all sins exclude from grace, else no one can be saved, for there is no one who is sinless. However, Scripture expressly recognises sins of infirmity as distinct from transgressions, as shall now be shown. For instance: St. Paul (Galatians 5:17) allows that it is possible for the power of the flesh and the grace of the Spirit to co-exist in the soul; neither the flesh quenching the Spirit, nor the Spirit all at once subduing the flesh. Here then is a sinfulness which is compatible with a state of salvation. Again, the same apostle says, that we have a High Priest who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," in that He had them Himself, all but their sin: — this implies that we have sinful infirmities, yet of that light nature that they can be said to be in substance partaken by One who was pure from all sin. Accordingly, in the next verse St. Paul bids us "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy." Such words do not imply a return into a state of salvation, but pardon in that state, and they correspond to what he says (vers. 19-22; Romans 5:2). In like manner St. John says, "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another: and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." It seems then that there is sin which is consistent with "walking in the light," and that from this sin "the blood of Christ cleanseth us." And St. James says, "In many things we all offend," that is, we all stumble. We are ever stumbling along our course while we walk; but if we actually fall in it, we fall from it. And St. Jude: "Of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire." Distinct kinds of sin are evidently implied here. And lastly, our Lord Himself had already implied that there are sins which are not inconsistent with a state of grace, when He said of His apostles, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

3. It remains to show that these sins of infirmity tend to those which are greater, and forfeit grace; which is not the least important point which comes under consideration. An illustration will explain what I mean, and may throw light on the whole subject. You know it continually happens that some indisposition overtakes a man, such that persons skilled in medicine, when asked if it is dangerous, answer, "Not at present, but they do not know what will come of it; it may turn out something very serious; but there is nothing much amiss yet; at the same time if it be not checked, and, much more, if it be neglected, it will be serious." This, I conceive, is the state of Christians day by day as regards their souls; they are always ailing, always on the point of sickness; they are sickly, easily disarranged, obliged to take great care of themselves against air, sun, and weather; they are full of tendencies to all sorts of grievous diseases, and are continually showing these tendencies, in slight symptoms; but they are not yet in a dangerous way. On the other hand, if a Christian falls into any serious sin, then he is at once cast out of grace, as a man who falls into a pestilential fever is quite in a distinct state from one who is merely in delicate health. I conclude with advising you one thing, which is obviously suggested by what I have said. Never suffer sin to remain upon you; let it not grow old in you; wipe it off while it is fresh, else it will stain; let it not get ingrained; let it not eat its way in, and rust in you. It is of a consuming nature; it is like a canker; it will eat your flesh. And then again, sin neglected not only stains and infects the soul, but it becomes habitual. It perverts and deforms the soul; it permanently enfeebles, cripples, or mutilates us. Let us then rid ourselves of it at once day by day, as of dust on our hands and faces. We wash our hands continually. Ah! is not this like the Pharisees, unless we wash our soiled souls also?

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)


1. The person here meant is one who has made some professions of religion, and has taken some steps in it.(1) First, he must have been convinced in his conscience and judgment of the truth and excellency of religion.(2) Secondly, the person here supposed must not only have been convinced of the excellency of religion, but must have come to a resolution of choosing it for himself.(3) Thirdly, the person here supposed did actually enter on this way; he chose religion and he followed it; he gave clear and practical evidence of the purpose which he had formed, and plainly showed that he was in earnest.

2. The person of whom we are speaking, having walked for a longer or shorter time in the way described, is now drawing back. He has been deterred, perhaps, by the difficulties which seemed to stand in his way, and to oppose his progress; I say seemed, because if he had persevered he would have found that they would have yielded and have come to nothing. Or perhaps he has been overcome by the persuasion and influence of worldly friends and relations. Or perhaps the world has involved him in its cares or pleasures, in its business or dissipations; and these, like thorns, have choked the good seed which was beginning to shoot, and have rendered it unfruitful. Or, to mention only one other cause, he has not watched against his favourite sin; he has not denied and mortified it. To make this part of the case, however, more plain, I will state to you some few of the particular symptoms which distinguish it. When a person is drawing back in religion, he will discover his retrograde movement by many proofs, to those who know what religion is, and have the means of observing his conduct. It does not follow that he will return exactly into the same paths in which he was walking before he appeared to become a religious character; but he will plainly show that he is not now the same religious character which he lately was. He will insensibly become less correct in his conduct and conversation. He will not now be so careful of his company. He will gradually become less frequent and regular in his attendance on public ordinances; while the devotion and attention that used to mark his behaviour there are too visibly declining. If, in addition to these outward marks of declension, you were to follow this person home, and observe his conduct in private, you would see the Bible less frequently consulted, and religious duties less diligently performed. Communion with God is no longer his delight and enjoyment.

II. THE AWFUL THREATENING DENOUNCED. "If any man draw back." If there should be a person in the state that has been here described, what does the Lord declare respecting him? "My soul shall have no pleasure in him." We are told that the Lord does "take pleasure in His people." — "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him; in those that hope in His mercy." He regards such persons with favour and complacency. He delights over them to do them good. But He hath no pleasure in them that "draw back." He sees, but He cannot approve them. But further, the expression in the text has a still more alarming sense. It is a dreadful thing to be excluded from the lovingkindness of the Lord; but it is a far more dreadful thing to be shut up under His displeasure. Yet such is the case with the person of whom we are speaking. Such is the real meaning of the text. No persons are so offensive to Him, as those, who, having for a time walked in His ways, at length draw back. For such conduct is the greatest affront, and most direct indignity which can be offered to God. The man who draws back does in a manner say, that the ways of sin and of the world are preferable to the ways of religion. Can anything be more dishonourable to Jesus Christ, or show a greater contempt of His mercy and grace? Address three kinds of persons.

1. Those who have entered, as they suppose, on the paths of religion, and are now walking in them. Take heed that ye draw not back. To this end "be watchful and sober." Those who would walk safely, must walk humbly. The Lord will guide and keep the meek. Watch against the sin that most easily besets you. Be regular and fervent in private prayer, and in secret communion with God. This is the life and source of religion in the soul. If you would not draw back, go forwards. Press towards the mark; grow in grace, add one Christian virtue and temper to another, so wilt your progress be clear and certain: your calling and election will be made sure.

2. I would address those who in their hearts may be conscious, at least fearful, that they have drawn back. Consider from whence you are fallen.

3. I would, in conclusion, address another class-those who perhaps may be saying to themselves: "We are free from this charge. We have never made any particular profession of religion, so that we cannot be said to have renounced it. We are at least no hypocrites. God cannot accuse us of having drawn back from His ways." Because you are not hypocrites, and have made no pretentions to religion, shall you escape the judgment of God? Why have you not made pretentious to religion? Be assured, that so long as you are in this state, the Lord hath no pleasure in you. He abhors ungodliness and sin, and both hates and will punish all the workers of iniquity.

(E. Cooper, M. A.)

Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.
The pansy only develops its beauty under cultivation, and when neglected soon relapses into its native condition. There are men who keep conspicuously moral so long as they are constantly cultivated by their minister, but who relapse into their former littleness if his care is withdrawn. Such men, like the pansies, give a deal of trouble. But if you want to exhibit either them or the flower, you have no option but to give them constant cultivation. Whether the result in either case is worth the trouble is another matter.

(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)

I heartily desire that ye would mind your country, and consider to what direction your soul setteth its face; for all come not home at night who suppose they have set their face heavenward.

(S. Rutherford.)

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