What Does It Mean to Walk by Faith?

Category: Questions & Answers
Bible: 2 Corinthians 5:7

What does it mean to walk by faith? We want to know what the Bible says about it. But we also want to see if the Bible describes what the opposite of what walking by faith is. The Bible says that the opposite of walking by faith is walking by sight. Faith is living your life based on invisible realities that your physical senses can’t apprehend. The Bible not only defines faith for us, but also gives real examples of men and women (a cloud of witnesses who are beckoning us on) who had to walk by faith and not by sight.


"What does it mean to walk by faith? Can you also give practical examples of walking by faith and living by faith?" I mean, that's a good question. That's at the heart of Christianity. What does it mean to walk by faith? Well, what comes to my mind when I hear that is that there's actually a New Testament text that has exactly those words. You know where I'm thinking? Somebody look that up. It's a very well known passage. Read it when you get there. (v. 6) "So 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, not by sight." Tim: We walk by faith, not by sight. Now, I think anytime you want to look at what something is, it's always good to look at the opposite. Looking at the opposite of something can be very helpful if we know exactly what the opposite is. Sometimes we have an idea: Oh, that's the opposite. Well, sometimes it's not exactly the opposite. But what we know is this: We know from this text by inspired language what the opposite of walking by faith is. What's the opposite? Walking by sight. Ok, that's helpful. Walking by sight. Sight is what we can see. It's what we can feel. It's what the physical senses can pick up on. So we really walk by an organ that only regenerate people have. It's a spiritual organ. It's not the physical senses. That's not how we walk. So, if you go back right up before this; just let your eyes go back up to . Somebody read that verse. Right there in context. Somebody read that. Don't be shy. "We have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, 'I believed and so I spoke,' we also believe and so we speak." Tim: Is that right? Is that the verse I want? (from the room): I didn't know if you wanted v. 18? Tim: What's v. 18 say? "As we look not to the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." Tim: Exactly. That's the text I meant. I've got a 3 on my page instead of an 8. We look not to things that are seen. You see, this keeps coming up. In fact, if you follow that idea through Scripture, you see it with regards to faith over and over, that sight versus faith. Or, what is seen; what is invisible. That kind of terminology comes up. Think with me here. Romans 8. Now there we have hope, not faith, but that's a very similar word. What's the difference between hope and faith? Hope is future. And we often talk about faith in future things as faith just as well. We can talk about things in the future as though it's something we believe will happen, or we have faith is going to happen, or we can call it hope. We don't call hope something that we believe right now. Well, we may believe it now about the future. But we may believe things will be true right now and we don't call that hope because hope is always future. We can believe in things present. We can believe in things future. But hope is always future. But, listen to what the apostle says. Romans 8:24-25. Somebody have that? "For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope..." Tim: Hope that is seen is not hope. Keep going. "For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Tim: You see, this is the idea. It's constantly the idea in Scripture. We don't walk by sight, we walk by faith. Hope - we don't see it. It's something that we have an expectation of, but we don't yet see the thing. Now, Hebrews 11 is known as the faith chapter. We have example after example after example. And one of the things that I want to jump out at you in Hebrews 11 is how much this faith versus sight; that which isn't seen; that which is not yet possessed; that which is hoped for; that which is not yet attained; that which is right now invisible. How often this comes up, that faith is specifically said to be that which is placed in something that is yet unseen. And in fact, it starts right at the beginning. Look at chapter 11:1. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for..." Isn't that interesting? To even define faith, the author of Hebrews brings the word "hope" in. We were just talking about the difference. But there's the idea. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." That's the idea behind faith. You say, what does it mean to walk by faith? It means I am making decisions in my life based on things that people cannot see with the physical eye. Even if it's a promise - what's the thing about a promise? A promise is not yet fulfilled. Or it's being fulfilled, but it's finality hasn't come yet. And so even in promise, the fulfillment of promise is a future expectation. And so, I'm living my life based on promises - and it may be a promise for today - but where does that promise come from? It comes from an unseen God. And so I'm basically believing a truth that comes off this page, and I'm believing that there is an unseen God behind the promises in this book. And I'm willing to bet my life on it. I'm willing to bet my family on it. I'm willing to risk all, although I can't see the One that I'm trusting. I cannot see these promises being inspired. I can't even see that these promises were penned by Peter. Or Paul. Or Mark. I can't see that. I'm resting on promises that are in a book: faith. I mean, you think about how much we live by faith. And people challenge it all the time. You know the Muslims come along and they say that book's corrupted. I'm living on the faith that it's not. "Oh, the God of the Scriptures, that's not the true God." "Not the God of Isaac. He's got to be the God of Ishmael." Or John 1:1 - "Jesus isn't God." I mean, there's all sorts of people that attack this book. We live on the faith that what's in this book is real, that it's true, and there is an infinite, unseen Almighty God who's backing up every single promise in this book. And an unseen Christ. Peter speaks about an unseen Christ. Look how much this comes out of these verses. You see it right there in v. 1. Keep going. V. 3 "By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God." See, you don't see God. You never heard God speak. You didn't watch the universe spring into existence. And yet, what? "By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God." "So that..." here it is, "what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." You see, what's seen is made by the unseen. And you see where the faith is. The faith is resting on the God we can't see, and believing that all of this sprang into existence. Now, the thing about it all, is it's not just a fool's errand. Why? Romans 1 says, look, there's natural revelation in all of this. (incomplete thought) It's kind of like looking at a machine that somebody's built. We've got a few mechanical engineering students in our church who are going to UTSA and they're working on their senior project and they're trying to make an avocado pitter/peeler for HEB. You know, when they get that machine done, if you had looked at it, well, you can tell some things about the guys who made it. You can't tell everything. You can't even tell most everything. But you can tell some things. It's the same thing with the world and the creation around us. Scripture plainly tells us we can see realities. Psalm 19 right? Have you ever read that? How does it read? "The heavens declare the glory of God. and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech..." Tim: See, that's it right there. Day after day they utter speech. What's speaking? All of this. It's like you go out and look at those stars, what Scripture says is it's speaking. What's it saying? It's saying, "there is a God." You can't see Him, but He's there. How do you know? Because you can see His handiwork. That didn't happen by accident. Who was debating? It was one of these intelligent design guys debating one of these atheist guys. And the intelligent design guy was saying there's so much order. There's so much intelligence in the design. And the atheist was saying, he just didn't see it. He thought things were just messed up. He's blind. That's the only way he can say that. He's just absolutely blind. I mean, if you look around, you've heard me say it before, but I still marvel at it. A man and a woman can create a baby. That doesn't happen by accident. The human eyeball. How many designs in nature would not work if you removed one component like the eyeball. Or seriously, a worm becomes a butterfly? These things are miraculous. But there's people that are blind. And they can't see, because they don't have that spiritual organ that only the Spirit of God can give that causes us to see what isn't seen. Let's keep going here. V. 6 "Without faith, it's impossible to please Him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He is." That's basically what it says. "Exists" is the ESV. But that "He is." We must believe that He is. And see, we don't see Him. So we must believe that He is, that He exists though our eyes don't behold Him. And watch this. As you watch these men and women of the faith, just watch how often they get brought up not seeing the very thing that their faith is set on. Watch this. V. 7 "By faith, Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet..." what? Unseen. There it is. It comes back to that all the time. Noah was building an ark. And I've heard John MacArthur say, "Well, it never even rained before." I don't know that you can prove that. A lot of people say that. They say that fairly dogmatically. I don't know that you can prove that. But I guarantee you this, he'd never seen a flood that covered the earth before, whether he'd seen rain or not, I guess we could debate about that. But he's being told the whole earth is going to flood. He's never seen that before. Can you imagine? How long did he build that ark? A hundred years. Can you imagine 100 years you're building that ark? You think it ever crossed his mind? Maybe his faith was like Abraham's. He just never wavered. But think about Abraham. About this time next year, Sarah's going to give birth. And what does it specifically say there in Romans 4? About his faith? It didn't waver. Here he is 100 years old. His wife is 90 years old. She's beyond child-bearing. The whole thing seems impossible. And the thing is he doesn't even have his own child yet; his own heir according to God's promise. And God's telling him to change his name from Abram to Abraham. Like you're not only going to be the father of many, you're going to be the father of multitudes. And he's saying I've got this foreigner in my family. But you see it here. He didn't see it. V. 8 "By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. He went out..." here it is, "not knowing where he was going." So, he doesn't see it. He's been promised an inheritance. He hasn't seen it. But out he goes. "By faith, he went to live in the land of promise as in a foreign land, living in tents." Isaac, Jacob, heirs with him. Same promise. He was looking forward. Now, here it is. "The city that has foundations whose designer and builder is God." He's looking forward to a city that he doesn't see. He doesn't see it. He's looking for it, but he doesn't see it. "By faith, Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised." But there it is. What did she see? She saw an old woman. She saw an old woman who had reached menopause undoubtedly. No ability to have kids. She laughed when she heard that she was going to have a child. Why? Because it seemed ridiculous. She was way beyond that age. And you see it. V. 12. "Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendents. As many as the stars of heaven; as innumerable as the grains of sand..." "They all died in faith, not having received the things promised. Having seen them and greeted them from afar." Now that's interesting. They saw them from afar, which means that they didn't actually see them. You know what that seeing is. That's faith. That's not seeing with physical eyes. That's seeing by faith. They didn't see with the physical eye. But they did see with the eye of faith. And that's how we're living. We see things in the future. That's what living by faith is. Living by faith is I believe God has called me to go out there. I haven't seen that land. I don't know what it's going to be like when I get there. I'm looking for a city that has foundations, not like the ones here - their foundations crumble. He's talking about real foundations. Everlasting. He's looking for it. That's how you live. You live in light of an unseen God, an unseen Christ. We love in light of the unseen Christ. Having not seen Him, you love Him, Peter said. We haven't seen Christ. Isn't that amazing? Isn't it amazing that - think about this - you sing songs and your heart is filled with gladness and thanksgiving, appreciation and love towards Christ. Isn't that amazing? You feel love for Christ and you actually keep His commandments, feeling love for Him. Have you ever met Him? Not in person. Have you ever set your eyes on Him? Nope. You've got people that will tell you He doesn't even exist. He never existed. He's a figment of somebody's imagination. Or, maybe He was a historical figure, but He certainly wasn't God. He certainly didn't die on a cross to atone for our sins. And yet, isn't it amazing? We've never met Him. We've never seen Him. We've never talked to Him personally with our physical mouths; we've never seen Him with our physical eyes. We've never heard His voice with our physical ears. And the amazing thing is, we believe that He died on a cross, and we're willing to throw all in and risk our eternal souls on that reality. And that's faith. You keep going. Let's see. I had some others marked out here. Where were we? Go to v. 24. "By faith, Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called [the son of] Pharaoh's daughter." Now, you know what's interesting about that? He saw firsthand the benefits of being [the son of] Pharaoh's daughter. See, he saw. "Choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God, than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin." You know what's interesting? He undoubtedly saw the harems. Why? He was a palace guy. He saw the benefits of being in the ruling class in Egypt. He saw it with his own eyes. But you know what's amazing? He swapped it for something he couldn't see. That's faith. "He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt." Imagine that. He swapped the treasures of Egypt for the treasures of Christ. One he sees. One he doesn't see. That's walking by faith. Look at v. 27. "By faith, he left Egypt not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured (you see it again) as seeing Him who is invisible." How do you see Him who is invisible? By faith. It keeps coming up. The idea of what you can see. It keeps coming up. How about 11:35? "Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life." And here's the thing. When you're being tortured, you feel it. See, this is the test of faith. Can you imagine being tortured? Can you imagine being tortured and you're told if you recant, they'll stop? You know why you continue to endure that? Because your expectation of what you can't see is that great. And your knowledge of what it is to turn your back on Christ and refuse Him; what the eternal consequences of that are are greater than the suffering and the pain that you're enduring. (incomplete thought) How about 12:1-2? "Therefore, since we're surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses..." Listen to those witnesses. Those guys walked by faith. Those are the witnesses and they beckon us on. "Let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so easily. Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus..." Isn't that interesting? Looking to someone you can't see. "...the Founder and Perfecter of our faith," this is interesting - "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross." You know what's interesting about that? He didn't yet possess that joy. He didn't yet have it. It was a promise. It was future. And yet He endured the suffering. So, that's basically it. That's what it is to walk by faith. It's that whole idea of living in light of things we don't yet see. How does that happen? It's supernatural. It is. What did I think when I was lost? I was mystical about this book. I thought it almost like had magic powers. Like it could ward off spirits, much like the vampire movies and the cross. I looked at the Bible like that. I never read it. I remember, in my lost days, opening up Revelation and just thinking, whoa, I don't know what that is. But just leaving it on my dresser - it's the same dresser I have upstairs in my bedroom right now. I would leave that Bible there. Like it was going to ward off spirits out of my bedroom or something when I was going through college. Once I got saved, I had such a confidence in my soul that this book is true. And such a sense of the reality of Christ, but more than that. More than just a sense of Him. It's like Peter says, we love - having not seen Him, we love Him. That's amazing. Isn't it amazing that something actually happens in a person when they're saved? Not just that they love Christ, but that they love Christ more than their own life. More than mother or father, more than husband or wife. That's supernatural. That's supernatural. Think about that. Think about if you came down from that upper room. You're one of the 120. Ok, we're going to try to turn the world upside down. We're going to try to get everybody to become followers of Jesus. Oh yeah? Who is He? He was a Jew. From where? Nazareth. Oh, we thought He was coming from Bethlehem. What did He do? Did He overthrow Rome? Well, no, and they actually killed Him on a cross. They killed the Messiah on a cross? Yeah, but He rose three days later. He did? Where is He? Well, you see, we can't show Him to you because after 40 days He ascended up to the right hand of God. I mean, imagine, coming down, making up something like that. And you're going to go and try to convince everybody. You know what? The only way that message turns the world upside down? If there is such reality that through the preaching of the Gospel, power is unleashed whereby people actually become possessed of a faith like this that sees beyond what can be seen, and lays hold on realities beyond the veil. And it's real. It's true. I feel it. I feel those realities burning in my soul and in my life every single day since I've been saved. I am not going to forsake the unseen realities for what I can see with these eyes. And that's the testimony of all these people listed in Hebrews 11. That's what it is to walk by faith. If anybody wants to know, what is it to walk by faith? All you have to do is follow God's people through the Scriptures. That's all the author of Hebrews did. He just thought about the Old Testament, and he said, well, there was this guy, and there was this guy and this guy, and there's this woman and this woman. Just look at the way they walked. People of faith always walk the same way. What way is that? In the direction of something unseen. Always. Anything else we need to say about that?