Which way is guiding and directing your life? It is impossible to walk in both ways as the same time. It would be like trying to drive down I-40 west and I-40 east at the same time. It is altogether possible for you to go in either direction but impossible to go in both directions at the same time. In the same way, it is impossible to walk by faith and by sight or appearance at the same time. If you were guessing what kind of discussion was going on when the Spirit led Paul the apostle to record that phrase, “For we must walk by faith and not by sight” what would you think was being discussed? I think if I had no idea what was being discussed at the time and simply thought to myself what kind of thing would arouse such a point it would be living the Christian life and being a person of obedience to God. I might even think it was a discussion of how to become a Christian. But if I look at a concordance to see where the phrase is found in the Bible, I will find it is in 2 Corinthians 5:7 and that it makes up the entire verse, not just a segment of it.
The discussion that led to making this statement actually began back in chapter 4 and verse 16. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” This led immediately into the discussion of the death of a Christian and their eternal home in heaven in chapter five. “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
As Paul is writing this letter he has gone through lots of rough seasons in his life. If you read chapter four as a whole and then chapter eleven as he described all the beatings, shipwrecks, arrest, imprisonments and rejection he had gone through as a Christian it is obvious his life hasn’t been easy. It would have been a normal question to ask Paul, how in the world he kept from getting so far down and discouraged that he wanted to give up. His answer was that he was anticipating a far different and better life beyond this world and time. He expected to lay aside this old body and enter into glory with the Lord in a very different world.
Look closely at the verse which declares we walk by faith and not by sight as it sets between two verses that say the same things. “For we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith and not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Paul, of all people, had been given a glimpse beyond this life and into eternity. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 he described how he had been caught up into the third heaven and heard unspeakable words, unlawful for a man to utter. He didn’t know whether that was in the body or out of the body, only God knew that. But it had deeply affected him. He isn’t in these verses discussing the eternal home after death and the resurrection. At that point we will have new bodies that are immortal and incorruptible. He is here describing the eternal home between our death and the resurrection, when will will leave the body behind and our inward man will go to the home of the soul. As long as we are at home in this body, we are absent from the Lord. It was a far better thing to be absent from the body and present with the Lord.
To walk by faith and not be sight means that we live our lives anticipating at death being with the Lord and enjoying his presence. It is certainly true that the Lord is always with us in this life. But it will be a much fuller presence with him when we leave the body and our inner being is there in the presence of our God all the time. How can we live in such anticipation of being with our Lord even though absent from the body? We walk by faith and not by sight. We can’t see it now. We don’t even have visions of what it will be like now. But we trust our loving Father that it will be a wonderful time and place where he will lead us by eternal fountains of water and God will wipe all tears from our eyes. When we walk by sight, we see, bombs, wounds, bloodshed, mistreatment of people and immoral godless behavior all around us. It often seems to get worse with every passing year. I choose to walk by faith and not by sight. What about you?