“We walk by faith, not by sight” is actually a quote from the King James Version of the Bible (2 Corinthians 5:7). It’s a good translation, but some modern translations say “we live by faith, not by sight.” And that’s good too. When Paul speaks of ‘walking on foot,’ he is referring to the way we live our daily lives. So the verse is not really about guidance in specific situations, since it is sometimes used that way.
This famous phrase actually begins with the word “because” which means “since, ever since.” The verse is connected to verse 6: “Therefore we are always confident and know that while we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord, because (because, since then) we walk (live) by faith, not by sight.”
Some may believe that it is a mistake to think through a difficult decision. Others may go even further and believe that the work of doctors, lawyers, psychologists, etc., should have no relevance to Christians. They may believe that these things are walking by “sight” and not by “faith.” Instead, we should “trust God.”
However, the linking term shows us that this is not what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 5:7. “We do not live by sight” simply means that we know Jesus even though he is not physically with us. Jesus is in heaven, and he won’t see it until we get there. Living by faith and not by sight is the normal Christian experience because we have never met Jesus face to face. We only know Jesus through the Bible, and through our experiences with Him.
The encouragement is that God has far better things in store for you. If you feel upset about your own sins, or if your life is difficult, the good news is that these are not signs that God does not love you. Please don’t think that. Paul had to put up with terrible problems, but he was not discouraged (2 Cor. 4:16) and was always in good spirits (2 Cor 5:6) because he knew that the current situation was not what God wanted for him in the end. . He now lived by faith, but one day he would live by sight and “be at home with the Lord”: he was going to see, and live, with Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:8).
What Does it Look Like to Walk By Faith and Not By Sight?
Walking by faith and not by sight requires you to go to a place you do not know, one that God will reveal as you walk in obedience. Just look to Abraham as an example (Genesis 12:1).
Walking by faith means that you continue to cling to the dreams God has planted in your heart, even when you’ve been thrown away, taken to prison for crimes you didn’t commit. Just look at all Joseph endured (Genesis 37-50).
Walking by faith requires a strong determination to follow God’s plan regardless of what life throws your way. Look to Daniel to discover how to have the resolve not to sin (Daniel 1:8).
Walking by faith means you have the courage to stand up for the hurting, broken, and down-trodden, to face death yourself for the good of others. Look at Esther and how she risked the death penalty to save the Jews (Esther).
You just may have to play the part of a fool. Think about Noah building an ark for a flood when it had never even rained on earth. Think about Abraham clinging to the promise that he would be the father of many nations even though he was childless at the age of 100.
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Think about Moses standing before the Israelites in the wilderness telling them they would eat meat until it disgusted them but having no idea where that meat would come from. Think about Joshua marching around the walls of Jericho as God had told him to and wondering what good it was going to do.
If you choose this path, you must be willing to get out of your comfort zone, to run from the Americanized brand of Christianity that so many of us have known our entire lives. You must be willing to let God take your world and turn it upside down, shake it up, and start all over again. You must be willing to let God out of the neat little box that you have put him in, to let him show up as he sees fit.
Maybe it will be a calling to do something you never dreamed of before: foster or adopt children, leave your job and become a missionary, and trade in the worldly comforts for heavenly treasures.
Maybe it won’t be that clean and neat and socially acceptable. Maybe, like me, your world will be turned upside down by the pain of adultery and divorce. Or maybe you will be faced with infertility or addiction. Maybe you will have a prodigal child that completely changes the direction of your life. Or, maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a child—a hurt like no other.
I don’t know what your shake-up might look like, but I know that if you will give it to God—throw up your arms in surrender and ask him to use it to change your life—he will honor your request. He will take you on a journey, teach you to walk by faith, and entrust you with some of life’s most treasured moments.
He will build a faith in you—faith that moves mountains and moves God’s hands. He will teach you to live this life without abandonment, giving you the freedom to walk in all His fullness and grace. He will prepare you to be used mightily in this life for his glory.
Perhaps you’ve already experienced your life being turned upside down, toppled without any control. Perhaps, like me, you’ve found yourself wandering in the wilderness, watching his fire direct your every step by night, a cloud lead you by day. Perhaps you sense you are on the edge of the Promised Land, just waiting for him to give the command to take possession.
And yet, you are tired and weary. You’ve lost friends who don’t understand how you can continue to cling to a promise that is so obviously dead and gone. You are so close and yet feel so far away. You are struggling with temptations to just settle, even though you know it is less than God’s best. You simply don’t know how much longer you can stand.
You are not alone. I see God raising up a remnant of believers, those he knows will be obedient. He is looking for those with clean hands and a pure heart, those who will choose obedience even if it costs them everything this world has to offer. He is looking for those who will throw caution to the wind, and believe that he has an abundant life (John 10:10) waiting if we will follow his ways. He is looking for those whose hearts have been purified, whose faith has been strengthened by the trials of this life (James 1:2). He is looking for those who will cling to his promises even when it seems there is no hope.
Be strong and courageous, my friends!
God has specifically chosen you to be a part of this remnant, those who will allow him to take their lives and mold them into what he wants. He has chosen you to have your faith tested and tried, and he promises that the fire will only purify you—not burn you. He has promised that he will be with you every single step, walking with you, carrying you, supporting you. He promises that he is still in control even when life seems to be spiraling wildly out of control.
He is teaching you to trust him so he can do something bigger and better than you ever dreamed possible (Ephesians 3:20-21). He is teaching you to let go and trust him with your heart, your soul, and your life (Proverbs 3:5-6). He is teaching you to walk every single day in the spirit so that he can do even greater works in you and through you (John 14:12). He is preparing you to be a beacon of light and hope to a world that desperately needs to see Jesus.
I don’t know where you are on this journey of walking by faith, but I encourage you—beg you, plead with you—to wave the white flag of surrender. Let God take your life, your pain, your loss and use it for his glory. Ask him to do amazing work in you so he can do amazing work through you.