13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. – Romans 4:13-15
Faith is not spoken about in the Old Testament. Trust is the most prevalent issue. But what is the difference between faith and trust? Well, this passage gives some indication. Faith is believing God (not believing in God) and trust is believing he will fulfil His promises. It is all based in the promises of God. Take Abraham for example. God spoke to him and said:
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. – Genesis 12:2
This was a personal promise to Abraham and he believed it. He trusted God’s promise more that his own thoughts, ideas, worries and rational understanding. God asked Abraham to leave his country, his family and his inheritance. That was madness in those days. His country gave him protection form enemies, his family provided care and his inheritance was his security for the future. But he trusted God. He believed His promise. He had faith in God. And God was faithful:
And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. – Hebrews 6:15
Even when Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac it was not Abraham’s obedience that was the issue it was his trust and belief, his faith, that God would keep his promise. In the New Testament the author of Hebrews gives a commentary on this story saying:
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son,
18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. – Hebrews 11:17-19
It was that act of faith which is recorded as being the most important in Abraham’s life. God had promised Abraham that his son would become a great nation and would be a blessing to all nations. Therefore, Abraham believed that if his son were to die God would raise him from the dead. By faith Abraham understood the very heart of God, that God would actually do that, give His Son to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world and then raise Him from the dead. Trust in God gave faith to act in obedience.
So none of this came from the law. Paul goes on to explain that transgressions which mean “crossing over a defined line” could only be made known when they were established in the law. Law: Don’t steal – if you steal you transgress. And with that transgression comes the consequence of God’s wrath. But the law was not given until the time of Moses. Adam’s sin was breaking trust with God. Not having faith in God’s word. Not believing God over his own thoughts, wherever they may have come from. Satan led Adam to mistrust God, to believe He did not have man’s best interest at heart. That He was holding something back. But that was a lie. God had nothing but loving kindness towards man and had provided everything he needed to live a wonderful and fulfilling life in the presence of God. But Adam threw it all away by not having faith in God, but mistrusting Him. And so came the curse on mankind and the world God had created. The wrath of God revealed, to a lost and dying world. And yet God gave hope through the promise of a saviour:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:15
And from that time Adam and Eve were looking for a son who would save them. They believed God that a Saviour would be born to them. Their faith was re-established in the Word of God, His promise of a Saviour to come. They trusted God for their salvation.