The Expository Files.

"We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" 

2 Corinthians 5:7 

Have you ever imagined that you were blind? I have tried many times to identify with those who are blind by taking just a few steps with my eyes closed. After a couple of steps I am totally disoriented. It is so unnatural for us to walk without looking where we are going, yet that is precisely what Paul says we Christians must do. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). This principle has several applications.

Those who "walk by sight" depend for authority upon what they experience - not by visions they see, voices they hear, or emotional surges they feel. But a reliance upon the senses for authority is dangerous. An experience is inherently ambiguous and needs interpretation (see John 12:28-30). Further, the Bible teaches that not all sense-experiences are of divine origin; rather, God allows Satanic deceptions to delude those who "did not believe the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

Those who "walk by faith" confide in revelation for authority. In fact, our faith and the revelation of God's word are so connected in the Bible that sometimes the gospel message is referred to as "the faith" (Jude 3). After all, the only way to "walk by faith" is to walk as Scripture directs (Romans 10:17). Perhaps the most pointed statement of the supremacy of revelation to experience is in 2 Peter 1, where Peter says that he believed not only because of the great sight he beheld on
the Mount of Transfiguration, but also be cause of the "even surer prophetic word" (2 Peter 1:19, NASB marginal note).

Those who "walk by sight" manage materialism with anxiety. Most people in our world are far more concerned with accumulating wealth than they are serving God. And on one level this is understandable, because you can see money and the attendant pleasures it yields, but you cannot see God. But the problem is that the eyes of man are never satisfied (Proverbs 27:20). The pursuit of wealth eventually becomes an obsession, a god (Matthew 6:24; Colossians 3:5), and man never reaches the point where he has enough. Yet, our material world fluctuates so much there is no guarantee that the fortune you have today will exist tomorrow. This is why Paul told Timothy to instruct the rich not to "fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches," a hope which "plunges men into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:17,9). It is this uncertainty that produces anxiety.

Those who "walk by faith," however, handle this world's goods with contentment. They realize that God has promised to supply our material needs if we have the faith to place His reign first in our lives (Matthew 6:33).

The apostle Paul is a good illustration of this principle. As he says, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am," because "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11b,13).

Those who "walk by sight" deal with suffering with stark despair. If our perspective is strictly one that demands for justice and equity in this life, we will be like Asaph, whose "steps had almost slipped" as he "saw the prosperity of the wicked" (Psalm 73:2-3) . All of us have wondered why the wicked seem to prosper while those of us trying to do what is right suffer so much. Our faith will falter like Asaph's if we try to answer this dilemma from a strictly worldly point of view. If we will "walk by faith," though, we will face suffering with hope. Paul was no foolish visionary. With grim realism, he came to grips with all he had suffered (2 Corinthians 11:24-28). But the reason he did not despair is found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: "Therefore we do not lose heart . . . for momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory . . . while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." Paul was hopeful in the face of
suffering because his sights were set on heaven, not on this world.

The Bible challenges us to "walk by faith, not by sight." This task is as unnatural as walking with our eyes closed. But the more steps we take, the more comfortable this walk will be come, and the more confident we will be of the destination of our walk. And ultimately that's what faith is all about - it is "the assurance of things hoped for" (Hebrews 11:1).

Scanned from Christianity Magazine Sept./Oct. 1996

 By Shane Scott 
From Expository Files 3.12; December 1996