What does it mean to “walk by faith not by sight”?

Last updated on May 17, 2021

What does ‘We walk by faith not by sight’ mean?

“We walk by faith not by sight” actually is a quote from the King James Version of the Bible, from 2 Corinthians 5:7. It is a good translation, but some modern translations read “we live by faith not by sight”. And that is good as well. When Paul talks about the way Christians ‘walk’, he means ‘the way we live our day to day lives…’ So the verse is not really about guidance in specific situations, as it is sometimes used.

Connected to the previous verse

This famous sentence actually begins with the word ‘for’ which means ‘because, since’. The verse is connected to verse 6. “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For (because, since) we walk (live) by faith, not by sight.”

Some may believe it is wrong to think through a difficult decision. Others may go even further. They believe that the work of doctors, lawyers, and psychologists should have no relevance for the Christian. They may believe that these things are walking by ‘sight’ and not by ‘faith’. Instead we should just ‘trust God’.

However, the connecting word shows us that this is not what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 5:7. “We do not live by sight” simply means that we know Jesus, even though He is not physically here with us. Jesus is in heaven, and we won’t see Him until we get there. Living by faith and not by sight is the normal Christian experience. Because we have never met Jesus face to face. We only know Jesus through the Bible, and through our experiences with Him.

Paul lived by faith

The encouragement is that God has much better things in store for you. If you feel upset by your own sins, or if your life is difficult, the good news is that these are not signs that God doesn’t love you. Please don’t think that. Paul had to put up with terrible problems, but he did not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16) and was always of good courage (2 Corinthians 5:6), because he knew the situation now was not what God wanted for him in the end. Now he lived by faith, but one day he would live by sight and ‘be at home with the Lord’: he would get to see, and live with, Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:8).

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