BUILDING UP THE BROTHERHOOD
WALKING BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT
November 8, 2014
“So we are always of good courage and know that while we have our home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we are walking by faith, not by sight.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:6-7
The Apostle Paul is an example of one who walked by faith, not by sight. He did not throw caution to the wind or plow headlong in spite of obvious obstacles in front of him. Instead he learned the ‘secret’ of how to meet his material responsibilities. He engaged earthly life on its terms, successfully working through the normal ups and downs and vicissitudes of earthly life, and courageously encountering the unfair atrocities that were visited upon him, all the while vigorously carrying out his ministry to the best of his ability. (Philippians 4:10-13) He was able to do this because he never lost sight of the prize – namely, to be with the Lord in the heavens. (Philippians 3:13-14)
The heavenly prize is, of course, unseen. It is a ‘thing hoped for though not beheld.’ (Hebrews 11:1) Yet, living our lives in complete confidence that we will attain the prize, as did Paul, is how we will be able to successfully maneuver through this life, no matter what is thrown in our paths. Walking by faith teaches us how to step over stumbling stones, move around road blocks, walk through facades, superstitions and illusions created by ignorant and dishonest people, and enduring the cruelty of those who do not know the love of God. Walking by faith IS the secret of success.
Walking by faith does not mean that we abandon reason or logic. Quite to the contrary! Walking by faith requires that we apply reason and logic in abundance. We are told to ‘train our powers of perception’ (Hebrews 5:14), to receive wisdom and accurate knowledge (Ephesians 1:17), to examine all things (1 Corinthians 2:15), to keep asking, seeking and knocking (Matthew 7:7-8), to ‘abound still more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment’ (Philippians 1:9), to ‘prove to ourselves’ the perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). By applying reason and logic to our faith, our faith will be purified of superstition and gross error, we will be less likely to be misled by false prophets or fall into the snare of idolatry of men and their greedy and selfish machinations, and we will uncover truth. So what does walking by faith entail? Let’s examine a few aspects.
Foundation of Walking by Faith
When we walk by faith, we accept the reality that God is a loving Father, not an angry, vengeful, wrathful or jealous God. Those ideas are antiquated misunderstandings based on veiled knowledge that was stripped away by Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:14) Instead, we look to God as a loving heavenly Father who will never leave us nor by any means abandon us (Hebrews 13:5); as a Father who looks out for our best interests now and into eternity (Matthew 6:25-33); as a Father who will not let anything happen to us that we cannot handle (1 Corinthians 10:13); as a Father who has, from the very beginning, purposed that we be with Him in the heavens (Ephesians 1:3-5) where we will experience unimagined blessings (1 Corinthians 2:9); and as a Father who sent us a perfect example of how we are to conduct ourselves in order to gain the prize of continued and everlasting life. (John 3:16)
When we walk by faith, we accept that a fragment of the Father’s spirit dwells within each of us.
“Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that the spirit of God dwells in you?”
– 1 Corinthians 3:16
We are connected with the Father by means of this spirit fragment which causes us to seek God and find Him because He is not far off from us. (Acts 17:27) By means of this ‘divine consciousness,’ we remain in constant communion with the Father knowing that He hears our prayers and comforts us through every trial. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) And it is this awareness of God’s presence within us that shapes our behavior and grooms us to fulfill the universal mandate, “You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), whether others are watching or not.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the holy spirit within you, which you have from God? Also, you do not belong to yourselves, for you were bought with a price. By all means, glorify God in your body.”
– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
When we walk by faith, we accept that we must follow the teachings and example of Jesus in order to find the Father.
“Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6
We endeavor to put on ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and learn to view life and people as did Jesus. We respect men of all sorts, but we do not allow anyoneto come between us and the Father other than the one mediator, Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5) Whenever there is a discrepancy between what men teach and what Christ taught, we always side with the Christ (Acts 5:29), who is the ‘exact representation of God’ and God’s only spokesman today.
“Long ago God spoke to our forefathers by means of the prophets on many occasions and in many ways. Now at the end of these days he has spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things.”
– Hebrews 1:1-3
And though Jesus’ words were spoken nearly 1,900 years ago, they are eternal in meaning and value. This means that our appreciation and understanding of those words will continue to grow as we grow in spiritual understanding of what is ‘the breadth and length and height and depth’ of the Christ. (Ephesians 3:16-19) His words do not need to be modified, changed, added to or taken from, only appreciated to a greater and greater extent. He declared his arrival as the fulfillment of the promise of spiritual liberty. (Luke 4:18-21) That promise continues to this day and is available to every person who wishes to take advantage of his life’s work. And only by the spread of this message of liberty and freedom will the trials and tribulations mankind faces on a global scale come to an end. (Matthew 24:14) Thus, it is up to every lover of Christ, every faith son of the Father, to be about the Father’s business of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
When we walk by faith, we accept that the Spirit of Truth is real and does, in fact, guide us into all truth.
“However, when that one comes, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own initiative, but what he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things to come.”
– John 16:13
While men debate and argue over facts and doctrines, which ‘merely gives rise to speculations,’ the Spirit of Truth guides us into truth – the matters that are ‘in connection with faith.’ (1 Timothy 1:4) It helps us to make sure of the more important things (Philippians 1:10), the things having to do with salvation, such as having ‘a clean heart, a good conscience and faith without hypocrisy.’ (1 Timothy 1:5)
This is a blessing that generations before us did not have en masse. They had wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding (Isaiah 11:1-3), but they did not have truth. This explains how the nation of Israel could so gravely misunderstand the true nature and character of the Father and why some of their activities, done ‘in the name of God,’ seem so depraved to 21st century society. But with the outpouring of the Spirit of Truth, mankind had access to higher ideas and higher ideals that, if followed, would lead to a natural manifestation of the ‘fruits of the spirit,’ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) The ministry of the Spirit of Truth is available to all persons, no matter their current religious associations, as long as they are truly seeking truth.
“While Peter was still speaking about these matters, the holy spirit came upon all those hearing the word. And the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also on people of the nations.”
– Acts 10:44-45
The Spirit of Truth also helps us recognize that God is our Father and that every man who responds to the spirit is our brother:
“The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
– Romans 8:16
When we walk by faith, we accept that we are all brothers to one another (Matthew 23:8-9), with an equal standing before God, no matter our race or religion (‘neither Jew nor Greek’), no matter our social standing (‘neither slave nor freeman’), no matter our gender (‘neither male nor female’), ‘for we are all one in union with Christ Jesus.’ (Galatians 3:28)
The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man is universal, whether or not it is recognized and accepted. Even the wayward ones among mankind are children of God who have the same hope we have if they want it. Thus, in all of our dealings, we are to treat one another honorably, doing what we can in service to each other according to their needs and our ability to meet their needs, being ‘good Samaritans’ in our communities. (Luke 10:25-27) But we show a special honor to those who accept their sonship with God and have faith in His foreordained destiny for us. (Ephesians 1:3-5) These are the ones Jesus was referring to when he gave the new commandment to love those related to us in faith with more than a brotherly love, but with a fatherly love, the way Jesus loved us:
“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.”
– John 13:34-35
“So, then, as long as we have the opportunity, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.”
– Galatians 6:10
These are the foundational ways we walk by faith, but there is more. Walking by faith, as we mentioned at the beginning, is the secret of successfully traversing mortal life and preparing ourselves for heavenly citizenship. It encompasses our attitudes, our emotions, our perspectives, as well as our varied circumstances.
Walking by Faith in Our Daily Lives
How easy it is to lose faith in the glories unseen when faced with challenges that are seen, such as family dysfunction, personality weaknesses, health problems, economic disparity, social injustice, racial prejudices, political upheavals, religious persecution, and things like these. But these are the very circumstances that faith is designed for.
When we are faced with such circumstances, the natural, physical response is to fall victim to them – to accept them as the reality of your life – and to respond in a physical way, with anger, tears, cursing, yelling, abusive behavior, and sometimes violence. But these reactions only feed into the situation and lead one into a cycle of depression and frustration. On the other hand, walking by faith in our Father’s promise to care for us – the spiritual response – is the only response that transcends the cycle and leads one out of it.
“No temptation has come upon you except what is common to men. But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:13
Walking by faith enables us to see the bigger picture – that we are citizens of the universe (Philippians 3:20), and only temporary residents of the mortal life. (1 Peter 2:11-12) The limited years we are privileged to traverse this planet are but a drop in the bucket of time and eternity that is already given to those exercising faith in Jesus. (See Everlasting Life Now!)
Walking by faith in the promises of God and unseen glories that await us helps us understand that our circumstances, whatever they are, are temporary and transitory, and serve to refine us. Tribulations courageously confronted, strengthen and renew us and always works out for our greater good, if we do not give in or give up.
“Therefore, we do not give up, but even if the man we are outside is wasting away, certainly the man we are inside is being renewed from day to day. For though the tribulation is momentary and light, it works out for us a glory that is of more and more surpassing greatness and is everlasting; while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Walking by faith allows us to transcend our personal problems and reach out in service of our brothers and sisters. It is impossible to wallow in self pity when serving others who are less fortunate than ourselves. We are speaking from personal experience. When we can see no way out of the challenges that we face, and have done all we can to resolve the problem, we turn to serving others – by way of this ministry or just going for a walk and smiling and speaking with strangers. Pursuing the ministry of the plain and open teachings of Jesus is a treasure:
“However, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not from us. We are hard-pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:7-9
We have learned that it serves no good purpose to sit and meditate on how bad things are. That will never lead to a solution. But little things like an encouraging conversation, giving a bottle of water, a canned meal, or an item of used clothing to a person in need can do wonders for one’s mental disposition. It is the essence of Jesus’ counsel:
“I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way, you must assist those who are weak and must keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said: ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’”
– Acts 20:35
And Paul’s words:
“Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:24
Without exception, these excursions in service clear our minds of negative thinking and leads us to a solution we could not previous see in a depressed state. Rising above our circumstances in faith and service is the message Jesus was teaching with this illustration:
“You heard that it was said: ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ However, I say to you: Do not resist the one who is wicked, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also to him. And if a person wants to take you to court and get possession of your inner garment, let him also have your outer garment; and if someone in authority compels you into service for a mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one asking you, and do not turn away from one who wants to borrow from you.”
– Matthew 5:38-42
Jesus is not promoting defeatism or passivism. He is promoting courage and conviction. He was telling them that when they are confronted with a situation that appears to be a ‘no-win,’ take control of the situation. Jesus was in essence saying ‘a slap to the cheek cannot defeat me, neither can a slap to both cheeks.’ ‘Taking my inner garment cannot defeat me, neither can taking my outer garment.’ ‘Pressing me to walk for a mile in your service cannot defeat me, neither can walking two.’ The point was that when there is nothing we can do to extricate ourselves from an unfavorable situation, we do not let those situations defeat us. This mind-set is the mind of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:16) and adorning ourselves with this mind-set is walking by faith.
The bigger picture teaches us that while we are here on this planet, we must do something to advance our world so that future generations can experience less and less of the tribulations we face, all leading to an enlightened and spiritualized world as prophesied by the Hebrew prophets and seers (Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 35:3-7; Isaiah 33:24; Psalms 67:6; Psalm 72:16; Isaiah 65:21-23), and reiterated by Jesus who said that one day, our planet will be dominated by ‘the meek.’ (Matthew 5:5)
Walking by faith is the solution for ourselves and our world at large. We learn to get out of our own way and begin to think of our lives as a segment of time in the long journey of the human race toward perfection. (Matthew 5:48) We will be doing our part to fulfill the edict to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ for our children and future generations. (Genesis 1:28)
Think of this life as ‘boot camp’ where we will be faced with extremely stressful situations. But like boot camp, know that the trials are temporary and all in preparation for greater future responsibilities. This life is only the ‘preliminary heat’ in the eternal race for the real life. (1 Timothy 6:19) We will fall many times as we gain our strength. We will pull muscles, maybe sprain an ankle. People will get in our lane, and trip us. Others will fall around us. We may even break a leg. But we continue on in faithful expectation of the prize. This is the way Paul looked at life.
“Do you not know that the runners in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Now everyone competing in a contest exercises self-control in all things. Of course, they do it to receive a crown that can perish, but we, one that does not perish. Therefore, the way I am running is not aimlessly; the way I am aiming my blows is so as not to be striking the air; but I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.”
– 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Unlike a literal race where there is only one winner, in the race for life, we can all be winners, but we must ‘run in such a way that we may win it.’ That means we must look beyond the temporal problems and not let them overtake us. Discipline ourselves to walk by faith in full expectation of divine assistance and eternal glory.
Everything we need has been provided. (Matthew 6:25-34) Our Father is well aware of our circumstances and our training regimen, and He has total confidence in our ability to endure and find our way to Him in paradise. (Revelation 2:7) We must develop a similar faith in our own endurance. If we walk in faith in all of the ways mentioned above, we will have excelling peace now, and we will be assured of our survival of this life and our continued existence in the Kingdom of the Heavens for an eternity. Never forget Jesus words of comfort.
“I have spoken these things to you while I am still with you. But the helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you. I leave you peace; I give you my peace. I do not give it to you the way that the world gives it. Do not let your hearts be troubled nor let them shrink out of fear. You heard that I said to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I am. So now I have told you before it occurs, so that you may believe when it does occur. I will not speak with you much more, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has no hold on me. But for the world to know that I love the Father, I am doing just as the Father has commanded me to do. Get up, let us go from here.”
– John 14:25-31
Like our Master, let us not be overly troubled, nor shrink in fear, no matter what situations befall us. And let us ‘get up and go,’ walking in faith, not by sight, demonstrating our love for the Father and His Son.