Habakkuk 2:4 is a verse that shows up many times in Scripture, including Romans, Hebrews and Galatians. In Romans 1:16-17, its closing phrase “the righteous will live by faith” is quoted.
Habakkuk tells us the opposite of righteousness is pride. Being “puffed up.” The fruit of living faithfully is righteousness. Unrighteousness comes from being self-seeking, serving our appetites.
In context, this verse is God’s answer to Habakkuk’s question: “Why aren’t you bringing justice, judging wickedness?” God answers “I am bringing the Babylonians to judge Israel by invading them.” Habakkuk then says “I’m only a man, so please don’t get mad at me for asking another question. But how is that justice? The Babylonians are even worse!” God answers “The righteous shall live by faith, and the proud does not”. Then proceeds to say the Babylonians will get judged in due time as well.
The world famous believers in Rome need to be delivered from pride. Pursuing the fulfillment of unhealthy desires. Even though believers have been made a new creation in Christ, we still have the perverse desires of the flesh. We need deliverance daily.
The flesh clamors to be in control. To make sure we get our share. To seek to satisfy unquenchable appetites. Our sinful nature is an expert at justifying actions, and rationalizing against the Spirit. But if we continue to follow this, the consequence is death. The death of freedom through addiction. The death of relationship through self-centeredness. The death of our gifts through lack of use.
Paul exhorts all believers to a better way. To a life lived in the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ came to deliver us not only from eternal judgement, but also from the power of sin to destroy. His indwelling resurrection power can be used today when we are willing to set aside self.