If you’ve ever heard people say “We walk by faith, not by sight” and wondered what that really means you are probably not alone. It is a precious truth found in the Word of God yet I’m not sure we have pondered the depth of this incredible verse. We usually quote it when things in the natural don’t match what we see in the Word of God or when things happen opposite of what we have faith for. We use it to explain the unexplainable or when we need a jolt of faith to believe for a perceived want or need that we cannot see yet! Though it isn’t wrong to grab hold of this amazing truth from Scripture and apply it to our lives for these reasons, we would do well to examine it in context to gain deeper understanding about walking by faith versus walking by sight and then apply it by faith in Jesus! Studying Scriptures in context prevents us from misapplying truth or missing it altogether because we will grab hold of the entire truth not just the part we “like”. In other words, we get the whole truth and nothing but the truth! We will not be disappointed or offended by it and it will be a positive experience when we seek to receive and serve Truth, our Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!
To understand the meaning and application of the verse “For we walk by faith, not by sight” we note it is one little verse tucked into an entire section of Scripture dealing with life and death. Therefore we must study and apply it in terms of life and death! By doing so, we walk this earth in greater awareness of eternity while discovering how possible impossibilities truly are! The significance of this truth opens our spirits to believe God to walk by faith, not by sight for eternal reasons which naturally leads to opening the portal for walking in greater faith in all areas of life.
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
As we can plainly see walking by faith and not by sight has everything to do with life and death, earth and heaven, body and spirit, being present or absent, clothed and further clothed, and not necessarily all the other scenarios we think to use it for in life. We are to live in full knowledge that when our bodies give way to death, we have a new house from God in which to live in heaven. Knowing this we groan because we feel burdened with this desire to inhabit our heavenly home or to be further clothed so to speak. We long to see what God has prepared for us or at least we should yearn to “get there”!
This reality of living in our earthly bodies carries with it the inherent frustration and realization of our absence from God. I wonder how many of us truly live with this earnest desire to be present with God. At times we might like to be “done” with this world and all its problems but that is not the same kind of groaning this Scripture so aptly describes. Instead, we are to live in a heightened state of desire to be further clothed in glory as our own mortality succumbs to life. This is truly walking by faith, not by sight!
On Sunday mornings at our church we gather in small groups to discuss and apply the Word after it is preached. During this time we are given questions to discuss what we heard from the Word, encourage one another to apply the spoken Word, and pray for each other. One day the question was posed, “What news have you received that shook your world?” We were coming up with answers like, “When my infant daughter almost died”, “When the Twin Towers came down”, and “The day President Kennedy was shot”! All good answers! Then I encouraged people to think of “good” things which have shaken their world such as marriage, children or grandchildren being born, and the like.
One older lady who rarely speaks proclaimed with tears in her eyes, “I am shaken when I think of the trumpet sounding and Jesus coming to take us away. I am so excited for that day, I just can’t wait!” Think about that! The reminder that Jesus is coming back is ongoing news which shakes her world! Truly, that is something to get “shook” about! As she spoke, I reached out to hold her hand and I could “feel” her walk of faith for something she cannot see! I could feel her confidence and desire to be absent from her body and present with the Lord! And I could say “Yes, Lord” and get shook with her for the day He returns.
I spent much of the next week “seeing” her face in my mind, seeing the tears forming, the purity in her desire to behold Jesus, her head tilted upward as she sighed and said “I can’t wait”, her voice quivering at the thought of finally being with Him face to face! I will never forget that moment when I witnessed and shared in the pleasure of a woman as she pondered the thought of being absent from this world and in the arms of her Savior whom she has worshipped for a lifetime. That, my friends, is the essence of walking by faith, not by sight!
Verses 6-8 sound like a riddle in regards to our walk of faith so let’s unravel it. “6So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Verse six is the “faith” part of walking by faith and not by sight! When we are at home here, we are absent from the Lord, so everything we say and do is by faith because we cannot “see” Him now face to face! We always know as long as we have breath on this earth we are absent from the Lord but we walk by faith that there is a day we will be WITH Him. Right now we are IN Him and have Holy Spirit as our guarantee as we fellowship in Christ with our spirits here on earth. But one day, we will truly be WITH Him, up close and live! It takes faith to pray, to fellowship, to worship, to adore, to praise, to believe in the One we cannot “see”! BUT, we remain always confident! By faith!
Verse seven is our faith/sight verse! “For” is an extremely important preposition that is often left out when we say or use this verse! For we walk by faith, not by sight! It tells us our “position” in faith! “For” places us firmly in faith, in favor of faith, on behalf of faith, in support of faith, standing in the position of faith! We are pro-faith!
Verse eight is our “sight” verse! Once we are “present” with the Lord we no longer need faith to believe in Him! We behold Him and we will be “well pleased”. We are “always confident” by faith and we are “confident, yes, well pleased” when our faith becomes sight! This knowledge causes us to groan in this body with our desire to be further clothed with our heavenly body, the day our faith becomes sight! When we are absent here we are present there! Hallelujah!
What if we all took a moment and experience an awareness of what God has prepared for us and guaranteed to us through His Holy Spirit? (v.5) What if we made it our aim, present or absent to be well pleasing to God? (v.9) What if we made it our desire to be clothed with our heavenly habitation? (v.2) What if we groaned for Godly reasons not our own? (v.4) What if we lived in the fear of the Lord knowing we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and receive the things we have done in this body, directly by what we have done, whether good or bad? (v.10)
If we answer each of these “What if” questions with “Oh yeah, Lord”, what a tremendous difference this would make in our lives! We would most certainly walk by faith, not by sight! We would be convinced walking by faith now will lead to sight later! We would be compelled to walk and share our faith because we would know there are no “passes” from standing before the judgment seat of God where all will receive whatever we did while present here, good or bad.
So the next time you say or hear “For we walk by faith, not by sight” I hope you think of it in terms of eternity! What a difference Jesus has made in our lives!