Adversity Leads to a Contrast between Pride and Fa

Steve Viars September 6, 2008 Habakkuk 2:2-20

 

- I’d like to begin our time this morning with a couple of questions…

1. Do you believe that God will make things right in the end?...

- that righteousness will someday be rewarded?...

- and that evil will someday be judged?...

- On the assumption that the answer to that question is “yes”, then let me ask you this…

2. Are there practical implications of that belief?...

- can that, and should that impact the choices you make every day?...

- that, too, is a pretty easy case to make…

- the Scripture describes a person who believes that God will make things right in the end as a person who is walking by faith…

- you cannot ultimately prove this proposition any more than you can disprove it…

- so men and women who agree with these statements and are trying to develop a lifestyle that is consistent with these views is doing so on the basis of what they have chosen to believe…they are walking by faith…

- Now, do you know what word the Scripture often uses to describe a person who chooses not to believe these ideas?...

- one clear answer to that question from the Bible is the person who is living in pride…

- who believes there is no God…there is no future judgment…

- you make the rules, and the more you can tilt the game in your favor the better…

- and if a few rules have to be broken along the way, and if a few people have to be hurt in the process…as long as it serves you now, everything else isn’t that important…

- God’s Word actually holds these two approaches to life in direct contrast…

- walking by faith, or walking in pride…

- and then God says – which way are you walking?...

- it’s not just a matter of, do you believe in God…

- an equally compelling question is, does God believe in you?...

- being on the right side of this equation is a very important matter…

- with that in mind, I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to Habakkuk chapter 2…page 665 in the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this is our fourth week in a five week verse by verse study of the book of Habakkuk…

- I realize that we will have folks here with us this morning for the first time…

- and also some who have never even studied Scripture before…

- all of that is OK, and expected…that is true every Sunday and we’re glad that it is…

- but what we’re talking about this morning can be understood by every person here…

- just keep these simple thoughts in mind and you’ll get it…

- God’s chosen nation of Israel was divided in 931 BC…into the northern tribes which retained the named Israel…and the southern tribes which took the name Judah…

- for most of that period of history, they were living in ways that were greatly displeasing to God…

- many of the OT prophets ministered during this period of time to either the northern or the southern kingdom…

- then God allowed a significant event to occur in 722 BC – the nation of Assyria was allowed to sweep in and defeat the northern kingdom…

- that was devastating to the people of God…

- afterwards a series of prophets were called to minister to the remaining southern kingdom of Judah and call them to repentance…

- in fact on several cases, the prophets said – look what has already happened to the northern kingdom – unless you repent, your fate will be similar…

- that is where Habakkuk fits into this story historically…he ministered around 600 BC…

- so the northern kingdom has already fallen…

- and for those familiar with Biblical history…you know that it’s just a few years before the southern kingdom will fall as well, this time to the secular nation of Babylon (also known as the Chaldeans) in 586 BC…

- as I said, this is the 4th week of a 5 week study…but here’s all you need to know to be ready for today…

- there have been 5 major divisions in the book thus far….and I’ve even encouraged folks to make some notes and marks in your Bible to help you remember the divisions…

1. Verses 1-4 – questions from Habakkuk to God about why His people are getting away with their sin…

- How come the people of the southern kingdom can have such iniquity, and wickedness, and violence, and destruction?

- those were all fair questions…

2. Verses 5-11 – God’s answer…that he was actually going to judge His people by allowing them to be defeated by the Babylonians (again, an event that occurred 14 years later)…

- half of that answer would have made sense – God’s people weren’t going to be allowed to get away with their sin forever…

- but the other half of the answer would have shocked him…

- so it’s one of those times when you get one series of questions answered, but the answers give you another set of….question…

3. That brings us to the third major development in the flow of thought/logic…

- just a single verse – verse 12 of chapter 1…

- we even encouraged folks to draw box around it….

- because before Habakkuk launches into more questions…

- he reminds himself of what he already knows about God…

- it’s a theological pause that refreshes…

- and he applies it to his situation…

- We will not die – I know God has made promises and prophecies to His people which have not yet been fulfilled…

- so I don’t see how God will allow the Babylonians to defeat us and still keep those promises…but I don’t have to know as long as I am convinced that God does…

4. Last week we studied the fourth and fifth “major waves”…

- Habakkuk’s second set of questions…

- Lord, how can you use someone more wicked that the Israelites, namely the Babylonians, as your instrument of judgment upon your people?...

5. And then we encouraged you to draw your second box around chapter 2 verse 1…where Habakkuk says – well, I asked, now I’m going to sit back and listen, with the distinct belief that perhaps my thinking is wrong or at least incomplete…

- so I’m not preparing how I can reply when I am reproved…

- the rest of chapter 2 tells Habakkuk…even though I am going to use the Babylonians in the accomplishment of my plan of purification of my people Israel…the Babylonians too someday will be judged…because of their pride…

- in other words, God says…I will make things right in the end…

- let’s listen in to the conversation beginning in chapter 2 verse 2…

- read 2:2-20 

- we’re talking this morning about how Adversity Provides a Contrast Between Pride and Faith.

- in the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 principles to help us benefit from God’s promises regarding the future

I. God Certainly Will Make Things Right in the End.

- the fact that chapter 2 even exists is a tremendous demonstration of God’s grace…

- He was in no way obligated to answer Habakkuk’s questions…but that’s exactly what He did…

- and the summary of the answer was…the Babylonians will someday be judged too…

- and as hard as that would have been for Habakkuk to believe based on how strong Babylon was becoming, and the fact that that the Babylonian captivity was going to last 70 years…that is exactly what God was saying…

- and please notice this…

A. God is willing to go on permanent record.

- the Lord did not say – OK, Habakkuk – I’ll tell you what’s going to happen but you’ll have to keep it between us…

- that would have been a bit lame because presumably Habakkuk would not be alive when the promise would have come true…

- but that’s not what God did at all…

- he said it verse 2 – write it down (record what I’m telling you)…

- and He even said – inscribe it on tablets…

- and when the children of Israel are deported to Babylon---there’s no telling how many documents they are going to be able to retain…

- but this is to have a level of permanence…inscribe it into a tablet…

B. God’s people can confidently live and proclaim this message.

- v. 2- “The one who reads it may run”

- now, there is some difference of opinion on exactly what that means…

- some think it is talking about those who proclaim this truth – they can run and tell others, and there are other places in the Bible where the process of telling others Gods message would be described with similar terminology…

- a second view is that the idea has to do with the way you live…

- knowing that Babylon too is someday going to be judged will give God’s give people confidence as they endure the years of captivity there…

- the person who reads this can run strongly in the days ahead even though they will be hard…

- we can’t be dogmatic about this, but we know from other place s in Scripture that both principles are true.

- you can live with confidence and minister with confidence, because of your knowledge that God will make things right in the end.

- in other words, Habakkuk’s question deserved an answer…

- Just because the Lord was going to use the evil Babylonians in the accomplishment of His plan with His people did not mean that the Babylonians themselves would not be judged…

- and the remnant who were about to be carried off to Babylon had to decide if they were going to believe that…God will settle up some day with the Babylonians too…

- the opposite of living that way….at its core, is the central sin of the Babylonian nation, the sin of pride…

- the second truth is…

II. God Wants His People to Walk by Faith in This Principle.

- Habakkuk 2:4 is one of the more important verses in all of Scripture…

- it is certainly the central verse in this book…

- the Hebrew text for this portion of the verse just contains three words…

- the justified man…

- by his faith…

- shall live…

- now, that should bring up all kinds of questions…

- who is the justified man?....what is justification?

- what is faith?...how does it function?...

- what is the Christian life, How does one live before God?

- part of the beauty of the Bible is that we don’t have to guess about those answers because this same text is quoted three different times in the NT…

- once in the book of Romans – God’s commentary on the justified man…

- another in the book of Hebrews – God’s commentary on faith

- and the third in the book of Galatians – God’s commentary on the Christian life…

- so what does that mean…the justified man…by his faith…shall live?

- let’s use those instances to understand our passage…

A. It is possible to be righteous.

- the word justified means, declared righteous…

- God’s holiness demands that fellowship with Him is predicted on you and I being righteous…

- that is why many people in our culture often try to do the best they can because they believe they can earn righteousness before God on their own…

- but experience tells us otherwise…

- we know that we sin, and sometimes miserably….

- it is actually a form of pride to believe we can keep the law by ourselves…or be justified by our own works or goodness…

- that is why a central tenet in the book of Romans is Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

- but then immediately Paul begins talking about Jesus Christ…about the cross, about the shed blood and the empty tomb…with such beautiful verses as Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

- because that is true, earlier Paul could quote Habakkuk 2:4 to the Roman believers…

 Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

- at the core of the gospel is an understanding that you cannot be righteous on your own, but that it is possible to be legitimately declared righteous by God Himself.

- you say, well how do you receive that?...that is where the book of Hebrews comes in, the second place where Hebrews 2:4 is quoted…


B. This righteousness is received by faith.

- Paul could not have said it any clearer than in Romans 5:1 - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

- this starts…

1. as a decision at a point in time.

Romans 10:9-10 - that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Romans 10:13 - for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- the moment a person believes, 2 marvelous things happen…

- your sin is forgiven, and the righteousness of God is placed on your account…

- you are declared righteous by God Himself, because you humbled yourself and came to Him requesting something you did not deserve, and could not earn…the just shall live by faith…

2. as a lifestyle

- after coming to Christ, as proof that you genuinely know Him, you begin walking by faith…

- the book of Hebrews even contains the faith hall of fame…stories of men and women who walked by faith in the promises of God, believing that someday God would reward them for their trust in Him.

- just prior to that great chapter, we read this second use of Habakkuk 2:4…

Hebrews 10:37-38 - For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”

- this then becomes…

C. Biblical faith is the foundation of a godly lifestyle.

- that brings us to the third time the verse is repeated in the NT…

- in the book of Galatians…where Paul is very concerned about this church that had apparently tried to come to Christ by faith but now seeking to add ideas to the gospel…

- Galatians 3:11 - Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”

- now, something else you need to know about this verse was its…

D. Impact of this text on one of Christianity’s most important figures.

- do you know what central figure in church history was brought to Christ by meditating on this principle?  [as time allows, read from Boice p. 90-92 on the life of Luther)

- now, let me pause and ask you a few questions…

1. Has there been a definite time when you have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and savior by faith?  (develop the gospel)

2. Can you point to examples where you are truly living by faith?

- what you are doing right now would make no sense whatsoever unless some day God is honestly going to make things right?...

- for example as a student – people around you are cheating like crazy, and they will probably get better grades because they do…

- but you say – the final grade isn’t going to come at the end of the semester…so I’ll work with integrity even if it isn’t immediately rewarded or even respected…

- or a s a parent – you are faithfully raising your children for God, and you are teaching them, and disciplining them…and you’re not seeing the immediate benefits…in fact parents who just let their kids do whatever they want seem to have an easier time with it…are you going to live by faith in the promises of God that He will reward your efforts even if that’s a long way down the parenting trail?

- now, the rest of the chapter tells us that…

III. The Opposite of this Approach is Pride.

- the Babylonians were known for the proud way in which they used their power…we saw hints of that back in Habakkuk’s questions in chapter 1…

- and God says…let’s talk about him…

A. Its description

1. the meaning of the word.

- the proud one – swelled, puffed up, full of himself

- and please notice what verse 5 adds…

2. the affect

- never satisfied.

- “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” - C.S. Lewis

- now the rest of this chapter gives five woes to the Babylonians…and in so doing, gives five characteristics of the sin of pride…

B. Its characteristics

1. Greed – vv. 6-8

- Habakkuk 2:6 - …Woe to him who increases what is not his— For how long— and makes himself rich with loans?’

- the proud person has to have more to enhance his reputation, even if it means practicing extortion…using his power to take advantage of others…

- and you can see the lack of faith in that…

- this life is all there is…so get as much as you can using whatever methods you have to use…

- that was the Babylonians…as if they could take advantage of the people they conquered in any way they wanted without ever facing consequences…

- but the person who walks by faith says…I find my sustenance in the Lord, not in all the material things I can get…

- Luke 12:15 - Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

- Jesus made this same point in the sermon on the Mount when He pointed out that God even takes care of the grass of the fields…Matthew 6:30 - But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

- Matthew 6:33 - But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

- tonight at our church family night we’ll have an opportunity to bring food and clothing to our community food pantry and clothing closet…

- why would anybody do that?...to give of their material possessions to feed/clothe someone who is poor?...

- the answer is…because of our faith…

- believing that God is pleased by such actions…

- believing that God could use this as a first step to bring someone to Christ

- believing that God will meet our needs as we seek to love others…

- believing that someday God will reward those who love those He refers to in Scripture as “the least of these”…

- the justified shall live by his faith…

2. Injustice – vv. 9-11

-  Habakkuk 2:9 - “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house to put his nest on high, to be delivered from the hand of calamity!

- (tell the story from Moldova of the person who was leader in the communist party and therefore had a superintendent job in the tomato fields – built his house in 2 years by stealing…then communism fell and this man has nothing and is great need…

- Christians choosing to reach out in love to Him regardless of what he did to them under communism…

- that is how people who walk in faith live…

3. Violence – vv. 12-14

Habakkuk 2:12 - Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence!

- you see this theme throughout the text – the proud person finds someone weaker and takes advantage…

- (develop at school – the tendency to find the weakest student and take advantage --- Christians should befriend such individuals)

4. Seduction – vv. 15-17

Habakkuk 2:15 - Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, Who mix in your venom even to make them drunk So as to look on their nakedness!

5. Idolatry – vv. 18-20

Habakkuk 2:18 - What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, Or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video