Vol. 1 - No. 1 

January, 1982

"WALKING BY FAITH - NOT BY SIGHT"

by Leon Odom

James defined death for us when he declared, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2:26) Many false teachers imagine that all life for man ends when the spirit and body separates---or as they would put it, "there is no life after death." That simply means that life has offered no man anything but sorrow, sickness, disappointment, heartbreak and some felicity only as it is related to mundane affairs.

The apostle Paul taught otherwise in his second letter to the Corinthians. Listen to him: "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that path wrought for us the selfsame thing is God, who also path given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we ate always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, 1 say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:1-8).

This text affirms that there is a life beyond this vale of tears: a life so much more elegant in its nature that human tongue cannot describe it, nor finite minds comprehend it. An eternal abiding place for the soul that far surpasses the imaginations of the mortal mind. This land of sweet repose we look forward to is "by faith." In the midst of this wonderful passage under consideration appears the statement "For we walk by faith, not by sight." It is to this expression that we wish to labor just here.

The verb "walk" is used in various ways in the Scriptures. It is used of the physical walking. Do you remember how Jesus had said to the man sick of the palsy, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee."? (Matthew 9:1?8) In answering his critics the Master said, "For whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?" (vs. 5,6) Here the word walk is used of a literal physical walking. It is also used in a figurative way having reference to the way one is living. Joseph Thayer defines the word WALK (peripateo) as, "Denoting the state in which one is living or the virtue or vise to which he is given." (page 504, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon) This point might well be illustrated by Romans 6:4: "even so we also should walk in newness of life." In second Corinthians the fourth chapter and the first two verses, we read, "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." If you will note how the word "walking" is used here, it will further enhance the illustration of the use of the word in the New Testament.

Before leaving the point let us again note Ephesians 2:2,10. "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the, course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Having established the importance of the word "walk" as it is related to the Christian's conduct and outlook on life, the natural question would be: How then should we walk? The text answers the question?"We walk BY FAITH."

"Faith" is basically a firm persuasion. It is a conviction which is based upon hearing what God has had to say to us. W. E. Vine declares that it always refers to faith in God in the New Testament. It is also used for trust or what is believed. The contents of what is believed-or the gospel. In Acts 6:7 we are informed by Luke, the historian, that "a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith."

The "faith" of our text is that of believing. Trusting; confidence. We have faith in the promises of God the Almighty concerning the future and this leads man to walk after things ordered of God. The things of which the apostle has discussed have not appeared to the natural eye, and we cannot, therefore, know for certain about them except by faith. Faith is the very element by which we live our lives since such marvelous splendor of which Paul speaks has never appeared to the natural eye. And suffice it to say, that our trust in our Father is the very foundation that we build our lives for eternity. When the Hebrew writer said, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," (Hebrews 11:1) he was not defining faith for us. He was rather informing us of what faith does for us. Faith is the very substance-the very foundation upon which we are to build our lives. How badly, my gentle friend, we need that trust in God's Word today. O, how badly we need that today!

If you will, note that in the parenthetical statement under consideration: "We walk by faith, not by sight," is a positive and a negative. While we have given emphasis to the positive, we must not ignore the negative. "We walk not by sight." It seems to this scribe that walking "by sight" is to walk in the things of the world. The person who walks "by sight" is he who has made mammon his god. He has made life count for all that satisfies his fleshly desires. The "sight-walker" cares little for the authority of the Scriptures to govern his life as a Christian or what he does as part of a collective body?the church. They promote things of one sort and another without any regard as to whether it is according to the will of God. Their trust is not in God but in the power of what they can see only in the here and the now. Happiness comes to the "sight-walker" in every worldly aspect without regard to that building of God which is not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Beloved friend, can we honestly review our lives? Do we walk by faith? Do we have the confidence in God and His word to be bound in life by what is revealed on the pages of the New Testament? If we walk by faith, we shall never experience another division among the people of God like we have in the past. We will never know again the sorrow that comes as a result of falling away from the principles of truth. Let me encourage you to place your trust in Cod and His word as a guide for every decision of life, whether it be as an individual Christian or whether it be as a collective body of disciples. If we allow God to direct our goings we will be right and cannot be wrong. To that end we shall strive until we have reached perfection in "walking by faith."