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Faith, Not Sight

2Corinthians: Paul's Most Underappreciated Epistle

Jan 6, 2019

by: Jack Lash Series: 2Corinthians: Paul's Most Underappreciated Epistle | Category: NT books | Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:6–5:8
I. Introduction
 A. We’ve talked about the final state of glorification.
 B. We’ve talked about the intermediate state when we die before Christ returns.
 C. Today we talk about our present state of living.
 D.  How do we live as God’s people in this age? How do we experience Christ in this age?
 E. 2Corinthians 5:6–8 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
II. Explanation
 A. Living away from the Lord
  1.  “We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.”
  2. Is the Lord with us? Yes. He is with us through the HS. But He’s not with us in the way He was with His disciples, is He? And He’s not with us in the way He will be with us on the last day, is He?
  3. Yes, there’s a sense in which Christ is with us, but there’s also a sense in which Christ is away from us, off in heaven, from where He will return on the last day.
  4. If we die before the Lord returns, we go to be with the Lord, even though we are...
 B. Away from the body.
  1. And Paul says an extraordinary thing here in v.8. He says that it is better to be away from our body than away from our Lord.
  2. Do you realize what this means? It means we need the Lord more than we need our bodies.
  3. When we wake up each morning, do we realize we need the Lord more than we need our bodies?
 C. So while we are here, and can’t see the Lord, we walk not be sight, but by faith.
 D. Walking in the Lord’s path is a common idiom for the Christian life. And it is the idiom which is the foundation of how Paul describes the life of a Christian as walking by faith and not by sight.
  1. Remember this was written in the ancient world, where there was no modern forms of travel.
  2. Travel was tedious and often long, almost always on foot.
  3. This idiom implies as Christians we are on a journey, a journey of limited duration, a journey to a destination.
  4. And as we walk on this journey, we walk by faith, not by sight.
 E. It was different for the disciples and the original followers of Christ.
  1. Theirs wasn’t so much a walk by faith as a walk by sight. They actually saw Him. They witnessed His miracles, His transfiguration, His resurrection.
  2. 1John 1:1–3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you.
  3. As in many human experiences, the many live by faith in the sight of the few. We live by faith in what the apostles saw. We don’t have sight, but they had sight. Our faith is based on their sight.
  4. They heard it, they saw it, they touched it with their hands. And then they testify about it to us and proclaim it to us.
  5. Before He returned to heaven, Jesus began weaning them off of sight — Thomas said he wouldn’t believe unless he saw with his own eyes. But, after showing Thomas the marks on his hands/side, Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29. And once Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples walked by faith and not by sight, though they still had memory of the sight.
  6. You see, it’s not that these things can’t be seen at all. They were seen, over and over, by a multitude of people, over a fairly long period of time. And they have faithfully recorded and passed along their testimony.
  7. We accept what we are told by multiple and reliable sources – by faith. Faith means believing what you are told because you trust the person or persons who are telling you.
   a. We believe in Jesus, though we have never seen Him with our eyes, through the testimony of those who did see Him with their eyes.
   b. We believe the things God tells us in His word, though we haven’t seen those things, because we know God is trustworthy.
 F. One day these things will be see again, by everyone on the last day, the day of revelation.
  1. "We know that when He appears, we...will see Him just as He is." (1John 3:2)
  2. "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." (1Cor.13:12)  (See also Rev.22:3-4.)
 G. But for now, our Lord is no longer visible to our eyes. He is just as real, He is spiritually present with us, we still have His word, but we can no longer see Him visibly. So, we walk by faith, not by sight.
 H. What is faith then?
  1. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Heb.11:1)
  2. Faith is knowing something which you can’t see. Faith is knowing what is true without seeing it with our physical eyes.
  3. Walking by faith is living according to what we know instead of what we see.
 I. We do this all the time in other areas.
  1. We know that the north pole exists, though none of us have seen it.
  2. We know that radioactive materials are dangerous, though we cannot see the danger of them.
  3. The news tells us everyday about what is happening around the world, but very little of it do we see ourselves.
  4. All of our knowledge of history (at least before our time) is based on faith, not sight.
 J. Faith is not contradictory to reason. We live by faith in many ways.
  1. We live by faith in our doctors, and in the researchers they depend on.
  2. We live by faith in our teachers, and in what their teachers have taught them.
  3. We live by faith in the FDA, that the food we buy in the store is not going to poison us.
  4. We live by faith in VDOT, that the road is not going to just run off a cliff.
 K. Faith in Christ is not just imagination. Is it not just choosing to believe what we hope is true.
  1. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
   a. Just because something is out of sight doesn’t mean there isn’t good reason to believe in it.
   b. There are all kinds of things we believe on the testimony of others, or because of the evidence.
  2. Butt why do some folks believe the testimony and others don’t? Is it because some are gullible and others are not? That’s what I used to think.
   a. But why is it that so many people disbelieve before they ever consider the evidence?
   b. The Bible tells us that because of sin, people are blind toward God. They cannot see. we read about this last fall in 2Corinthians 4:4 “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
   c. Some would say that’s ridiculous. But how do you know if you’re blind to something or not? How can a person born blind believe in seeing? What if 90% of people were born blind? Would they scoff at the others because they claimed to see things? If they did, they wouldn’t be right. The fact is that there is sight, even if only some people have it.
   d. Not only this, but the Bible says that folks who are blind toward God don’t want to see Him. As Ray Stevens said, “There is none so blind as he who will not see.”
   e. So, if deep down you get all this talk about God, don’t be arrogant and say it isn’t true, but seek to understand, seek to learn, read the story of Jesus in the Bible, humbly pray that if God is real, He will give you eyes to see.
III. Application
 A. So, we live in the age of faith and hope, eagerly awaiting the age of sight: "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." (Rom. 8:24-25)
 B. We are content to walk by faith, putting our faith in the Lord, though we can’t presently see Him.
  1. 1Peter 1:8–9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
  2. Hasten on from grace to glory, Armed by faith and winged by prayer; Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand will guide thee there. Soon shall close thy earthly mission, Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days; Hope shall change to glad fruition, Faith to sight, and prayer to praise. (Henry Lyte,1824)
 C. But it’s not easy to live by what we know, not by what we see.
  1. Sometimes things look good which are actually bad.
  2. Sometimes things look bad which are actually good.
  3. Sometimes things taste good but are bad for you.
  4. Sometimes things which feel bad are good for you.
  5. Poison doesn’t always look bad or smell bad.
  6. Pain hurts. But that doesn’t mean pain is always bad for you.
  7. It’s so easy to be fooled by how things look.
 D. Some believers clamor for a vision of God or a vision of Jesus in the here and now. But God has chosen for us not to see Him with physical eyes now. He wants us to walk NOT BY SIGHT. Rather, He wants to put our trust in what He tells us in His word.
  1. When we were in Kenya in 2010, Robert Carr asked if we wanted to visit the slums of Nairobi.
   a. Like most people like me, there was a voice inside of me saying, “Don’t go there.” It’s dangerous. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. It’s haunting. It’s smelly. It’s just unpleasant.
   b. But does that mean Jesus wouldn’t go there? Does that mean Jesus doesn’t want me to go there?
   c. What I know of God’s word calls me to resist the inner impulses which want to say, “I think it would be better for me to rest at the hotel.”
   d. Not just the right thing to do, but He will be there with me, there I’ll find Jesus: Julius and Mary
 E. Walking by faith means paying attention to God’s word.
  1. We need to know what God says.
  2. We need to listen to what God says, to remind ourselves of what God says.
  3. We need to hammer it down into our souls.
  4. It’s so easy to lean on my own understanding, not trust in the Lord’s word (Prov.3:5-6).
  5. As people, we are easily influenced by what’s around us. So, we’ve got to be careful.
   a. We’re supposed to be interacting with the world. But that means – to counter-balance that – we also need to be interacting with God and His word and His people.
 F. Hebrews 10:35 “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.”
  1. They had grown tired of suffering. When things look bleak, God seems far away, uninvolved.
  2. But when His people are trusting Him in the face of bleakness, He is smiling on them.
  3. “Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.” – V. Raymond Edman