Walk by Faith, Not by Sight!
“We are walking by faith, not by sight.”—2 CORINTHIANS 5:7.
1. What shows that the apostle Paul walked by faith, not by sight?
THE year is 55 C.E. Some 20 years have passed since a man then named Saul, a persecutor of Christians, embraced Christianity. He has not allowed the passing of time to diminish or weaken his faith in God. Even though he has not beheld heavenly realities with his physical eyes, he is firm in faith. When writing to anointed Christians, who had the heavenly hope, the apostle Paul therefore said: “We are walking by faith, not by sight.”—2 Corinthians 5:7.
2, 3. (a) How do we demonstrate that we are walking by faith? (b) What does it mean to walk by sight?
2 Walking by faith requires implicit trust in God’s ability to direct our lives. We must be fully convinced that he really knows what is in our best interests. (Psalm 119:66) As we make decisions in life and act on them, we take into account “realities we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, The New English Bible) These include the promised “new heavens and a new earth.” (2 Peter 3:13) Walking by sight, on the other hand, means that we pursue a life course governed solely by what we perceive with our physical senses. This is dangerous because it can lead to our ignoring God’s will altogether.—Psalm 81:12; Ecclesiastes 11:9.
3 Whether we are of the “little flock,” with the heavenly calling, or of the “other sheep,” with the earthly hope, each one of us should take to heart the admonition to walk by faith and not by sight. (Luke 12:32; John 10:16) Let us see how following this inspired advice will protect us from falling victim to “the temporary enjoyment of sin,” from the snare of materialism, and from losing sight of the end of this system of things. We will also examine the dangers of walking by sight.—Hebrews 11:25.
Rejecting “the Temporary Enjoyment of Sin”
4. What choice did Moses make, and why?
4 Imagine the life that Moses, a son of Amram, could have had. Raised among the royal offspring in ancient Egypt, Moses had within his grasp power, wealth, and influence. Moses could have reasoned: ‘I have been well-educated in the vaunted wisdom of Egypt, and I am powerful in word and deed. If I stay attached to the royal household, I can use my position to benefit my oppressed Hebrew brothers!’ (Acts 7:22) Instead, Moses chose to be “ill-treated with the people of God.” Why? What moved Moses to turn his back on all that Egypt had to offer? The Bible answers: “By faith [Moses] left Egypt, but not fearing the anger of the king, for he continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:24-27) Moses’ faith in Jehovah’s sure reward for righteousness helped him to resist sin and indulgence and its fleeting pleasure.
5. How does Moses’ example encourage us?
5 We too are often faced with the need to make difficult decisions on such issues as these: ‘Should I give up certain practices or habits that are not fully in line with Bible principles? Should I accept employment that has apparent material advantages but that would hinder my spiritual progress?’ Moses’ example encourages us not to make choices that reflect the shortsightedness of this world; rather, we should exercise faith in the farsighted wisdom of “the One who is invisible”—Jehovah God. Like Moses, may we cherish Jehovah’s friendship more than anything that this world has to offer.
6, 7. (a) How did Esau show that he preferred to walk by sight? (b) What warning example do we find in Esau?
6 Contrast Moses with Esau, a son of the patriarch Isaac. Esau preferred instant gratification. (Genesis 25:30-34) “Not appreciating sacred things,” Esau gave away his rights as firstborn “in exchange for one meal.” (Hebrews 12:16) He failed to consider how his decision to sell his birthright would affect his relationship with Jehovah or what influence his action would have on his offspring. He lacked spiritual vision. Esau closed his eyes to God’s precious promises, viewing them as of little value. He walked by sight, not by faith.
7 Esau provides a warning example for us today. (1 Corinthians 10:11) When we face decisions, whether great or small, we must not be seduced by the propaganda of Satan’s world, which says that you must have what you want right now. We do well to ask ourselves: ‘Are Esaulike tendencies showing up in the decisions I make? Would pursuing what I want now mean putting spiritual interests in the background? Are my choices endangering my friendship with God and my future reward? What kind of example am I setting for others?’ If our choices reflect appreciation for sacred things, Jehovah will bless us.—Proverbs 10:22.
Avoiding the Snare of Materialism
8. What warning did the Laodicean Christians receive, and why is that of interest to us?
8 In a revelation to the apostle John toward the close of the first century, the glorified Jesus Christ delivered a message to the congregation located in Laodicea, Asia Minor. It was a warning message against materialism. Though materially rich, Laodicean Christians were bankrupt spiritually. Instead of continuing to walk by faith, they allowed material possessions to blind their spiritual vision. (Revelation 3:14-18) Materialism has a similar effect today. It weakens our faith and causes us to stop ‘running with endurance the race’ for life. (Hebrews 12:1) If we are not careful, the “pleasures of this life” can smother spiritual activities to the point that they are “completely choked.”—Luke 8:14.
9. How do contentment and appreciation for spiritual food protect us?
9 A key to spiritual protection is contentment rather than the use of this world to the full and the enrichment of ourselves materially. (1 Corinthians 7:31; 1 Timothy 6:6-8) When we walk by faith and not by sight, we find joy in the present spiritual paradise. As we partake of nourishing spiritual food, are we not moved to “cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart”? (Isaiah 65:13, 14) Moreover, we take delight in our association with those who manifest the fruitage of God’s spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) How vital that we find satisfaction and refreshment in what Jehovah provides in a spiritual way!
10. What questions do we do well to ask ourselves?
10 Some questions we do well to ask ourselves are: ‘What place do material things occupy in my life? Am I using the material possessions I have to live a life of pleasure or to promote true worship? What brings me the greatest satisfaction? Is it Bible study and fellowship at Christian meetings, or is it weekends away from Christian responsibilities? Do I reserve many weekends for recreation instead of using such time for the field ministry and other activities in connection with pure worship?’ Walking by faith means that we keep busy in the Kingdom work, with full trust in Jehovah’s promises.—1 Corinthians 15:58.
Keeping the End in Sight
11. How does walking by faith help us to keep the end in sight?
11 Walking by faith helps us to shun fleshly views that the end is far off or is not coming at all. Unlike skeptics who make light of Bible prophecy, we discern how world events line up with what God’s Word foretold for our day. (2 Peter 3:3, 4) For example, do not the attitude and the behavior of people in general give evidence that we are living in “the last days”? (2 Timothy 3:1-5) With the eyes of faith, we see that current world events are not just history repeating itself. Rather, they form “the sign of [Christ’s] presence and of the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 24:1-14.
12. How were Jesus’ words recorded at Luke 21:20, 21 fulfilled in the first century?
12 Consider an event in the first century of our Common Era that has a parallel in our day. When on earth, Jesus Christ warned his followers: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw.” (Luke 21:20, 21) In fulfillment of this prophecy, Roman armies under the command of Cestius Gallus laid siege to Jerusalem in 66 C.E. But the armies withdrew abruptly, furnishing the signal and the opportunity for the Christians there ‘to flee to the mountains.’ In 70 C.E., the Roman armies returned, attacked the city of Jerusalem, and destroyed its temple. Josephus reports that over a million Jews died, and 97,000 were taken captive. Divine judgment was executed upon that Jewish system of things. Those who walked by faith and heeded Jesus’ warning escaped the calamity.
13, 14. (a) What events lie ahead? (b) Why should we stay alert to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy?
13 Something similar is about to take place in our day. Elements within the United Nations will be involved in the execution of divine judgment. Just as the Roman armies of the first century were designed to maintain the Pax Romana (Roman Peace), the United Nations of today is intended to be a peacekeeping instrument. Although the Roman armies tried to ensure relative safety throughout the then known world, they became the desolater of Jerusalem. Likewise today, Bible prophecy indicates that militarized powers within the United Nations will see religion as a disturbing element and will act to destroy modern-day Jerusalem—Christendom—as well as the rest of Babylon the Great. (Revelation 17:12-17) Yes, the entire world empire of false religion stands on the brink of destruction.
14 The desolation of false religion will mark the beginning of the great tribulation. In the final part of the great tribulation, the remaining elements of this wicked system of things will be destroyed. (Matthew 24:29, 30; Revelation 16:14, 16) Walking by faith keeps us alert to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. We are not duped into thinking that any man-made agency like the United Nations is God’s means of bringing true peace and security. So, then, should not our way of life demonstrate our conviction that “the great day of Jehovah is near”?—Zephaniah 1:14.
Walking by Sight—How Dangerous?
15. In spite of their experiencing God’s blessing, what snare did the nation of Israel fall into?
15 The experiences of ancient Israel illustrate the dangers of allowing walking by sight to weaken one’s faith. In spite of witnessing the ten plagues that humiliated the false gods of Egypt and then experiencing the spectacular deliverance through the Red Sea, the Israelites disobediently made a golden calf and began to worship it. They became restless and grew weary of waiting for Moses, who “was taking a long time about coming down from the mountain.” (Exodus 32:1-4) Impatience moved them to worship an idol visible to the natural eye. Their walking by sight insulted Jehovah and led to the execution of “about three thousand men.” (Exodus 32:25-29) How sad it is when a worshipper of Jehovah today makes decisions that indicate distrust of Jehovah and a lack of confidence in his ability to fulfill his promises!
16. How were the Israelites affected by outward appearances?
16 Outward appearances affected the Israelites negatively in other ways. Walking by sight made them tremble in fear of their enemies. (Numbers 13:28, 32; Deuteronomy 1:28) It caused them to challenge Moses’ God-given authority and complain about their lot in life. This lack of faith led to their preferring demon-controlled Egypt to the Promised Land. (Numbers 14:1-4; Psalm 106:24) How hurt Jehovah must have been as he witnessed the gross disrespect his people showed for their invisible King!
17. What caused the Israelites to reject Jehovah’s guidance in Samuel’s day?
17 Again in the prophet Samuel’s day, the favored nation of Israel was caught in the snare of walking by sight. The people began to desire a king whom they could see. Even though Jehovah had demonstrated that he was their King, this was not enough to make them walk by faith. (1 Samuel 8:4-9) To their own harm, they foolishly rejected the flawless guidance of Jehovah, preferring instead to be like the surrounding nations.—1 Samuel 8:19, 20.
18. What lessons can we learn about the dangers of walking by sight?
18 As Jehovah’s modern-day servants, we cherish our good relationship with God. We are eager to learn and apply in our lives valuable lessons from past events. (Romans 15:4) When the Israelites walked by sight, they forgot that God through Moses was directing them. If we are not careful, we too can forget that Jehovah God and the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ, are directing the Christian congregation today. (Revelation 1:12-16) We must be on guard against taking a human view of the earthly part of Jehovah’s organization. Our doing so can lead to a complaining spirit and a loss of appreciation for Jehovah’s representatives as well as for the spiritual food provided by “the faithful and discreet slave.”—Matthew 24:45.
Be Resolved to Walk by Faith
19, 20. What are you resolved to do, and why?
19 “We have a wrestling,” states the Bible, “not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Our chief enemy is Satan the Devil. His aim is to destroy our faith in Jehovah. He will not overlook any type of persuasion that might sway us from our decision to serve God. (1 Peter 5:8) What will protect us from being deceived by the outward appearance of Satan’s system? Walking by faith, not by sight! Trust and confidence in Jehovah’s promises will safeguard us from experiencing ‘shipwreck concerning our faith.’ (1 Timothy 1:19) By all means, then, let us be determined to continue walking by faith, fully confident in Jehovah’s blessing. And may we keep on praying that we may escape all the things destined to occur in the near future.—Luke 21:36.
20 As we walk by faith, not by sight, we have a superb Exemplar. “Christ suffered for you,” states the Bible, “leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) The next article will discuss how we can go on walking as he walked.
Do You Recall?
• What did you learn from the examples of Moses and Esau about walking by faith, not by sight?
• What is a key to avoiding materialism?
• How does walking by faith help us to avoid the view that the end is far off?
• Why is walking by sight dangerous?
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Moses walked by faith
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Does recreation often keep you from theocratic activities?
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How does paying attention to God’s Word protect you?