What it means to walk by faith

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“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – The Apostle Paul, 2 Cor. 5.7

Many Christians are familiar with the term, “walking by faith.”  But, do we really understand what that means?

Let’s first lay a foundation:

God is at Work

It’s one thing to believe in God. It’s quite something else to trust Him with our lives.
-Rick Perry

God is active in our lives and is working out His purposes in and through us; therefore, we can be confident nothing surprises Him. He knows everything that has and will happen—and He is in control of all of it. This allows us to let go of the need to feel in control.  We can surrender our lives to Him because He loves us and truly knows what is best for our life.

To understand God is orchestrating His plans to bring about His will gives us comfort in knowing that we can place our life, and all the myriad  decisions and challenges, safely in His hands.  Now, to be certain, we don’t always avoid hardships, medical diagnoses, loss, and broken hearts, but we can trust God in the process of dealing with all that life throws our way.

Welcome to the Journey.

Committing our lives to Jesus is the greatest experience we will ever have.  To know that God took the initiative to draw us toward Himself, convict us of sin and invite us to become one of His children is beyond amazing.  Can our minds truly comprehend the awesomeness of the Creator of the universe wanting to know us personally and intimately?

When we surrender our will to Him, the first steps in our new way of life are filled with wonder.  We face our journey with excitement, hope and anticipation for what is to come.  Growing in knowledge and understanding is welcomed and sought after.  Watching Him do a new work in our life and even answer our prayers causes us give Him praise and stand in awe at how good God is.

God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill His promises, leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer Click To Tweet

Toward Maturity

As time goes on, the newness in our Christian walk changes as we move toward growing in maturity.  When Paul wrote to the Colossian church, he described the hopeful development of every Christian:

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (Colossians 1:9-10)

Another letter written to the Philippians said this:

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

The New Testament depicts differing stages of growth in the Christian life.  As we walk in faith, we should move from being an infant in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1), to being a child (Heb 5.13), to a teenager (Rom 8.14), to a full grown adult (1 Cor 2.6). The goal of Christian maturity is not how much we know about the Bible or how religious we are—the aim is Christlikeness.

The goal of Christian maturity is not how much we know or how religious we are—the aim is Christlikeness. Click To Tweet

Our newborn spiritual legs will eventually strengthen, and we’ll start taking steps without the need for someone to hold us up.  And thus, we begin to learn what it means to walk by faith.

What it is Not

Walking by faith is not something guided with our natural eyes; rather it is done through a spiritual lens.  Just because we are spiritually born again doesn’t mean we fully grasp what it means to live a Spirit-filled life while still connected to a sinful, earthly body.  We learn that the ways of God are often quite contrary to the reactions and desires of our humanity.

Our carnal self still makes bad choices, gets unreasonably angry or still wants to get even with someone who has wronged us.  God wants us to love and forgive, 70 x 7.  Our natural man wants boasting rights and superiority.  God wants us to be humble, and to give Him the glory.  Our flesh wants to know every detail before we trust His ways.  God wants us to trust Him before knowing all the details.

Our flesh wants to know every detail before we trust His ways. God wants us to trust Him before knowing all the details. Click To Tweet

Walking by faith boils down to simply trusting God and His plan, no matter what we face in life.  It means continuing to walk with God, even when our flesh feels weak and discouraged.  Walking by faith is choosing to not let our flesh convince us to walk away.  It is saying, “Lord, no matter what happens, I love You, and I am still going to live for you and serve your Kingdom.”  Paul encourages us even in uncertain times:

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“. (2 Cor. 5.6-7)

Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  The Bible is our guide for knowing how the Lord wants us to act, react and handle situations.  As already mentioned, many of those ways are different from the ways our natural self wants to respond to what is going on around us. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us,

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

What it is

Walking by faith is keeping our surrendered heart in that same place of surrender.  It’s letting the knowledge we’ve gleaned from the Word of God determine our actions.  It’s allowing God’s influence to supersede our natural reactions.  It’s living according to what we know God wants, even when we feel like He is silent. The difference and the beauty of allowing God to lead us brings fewer regrets, better results and greater trust.

Just like every other human alive, we are going to face obstacles, heartbreak, and our own sinfulness. We are going to face situations of every different kind.  Some will be personal, spiritual, financial, professional, and eventually our own health.  Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us,  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

People who walk by faith don’t see obstacles, they see opportunities. - Warren W. Wiersbe Click To Tweet

When we’ve had a falling out with a loved one or faced conflict with someone, we pray about it, search the scripture for guidance, seek wise counsel, and trust God for the solution.

When we’re unsure of what the Lord is doing in our spiritual life, walking by faith is continuing to pray, read, serve, worship, and fellowship until God shows us what is next–trusting that God is going to show us His will.

If we’ve lost a job or find ourselves in a place of limbo, walking by faith means to continue praying and continue searching with our eyes wide open for opportunity.

When our health is failing, and we find ourselves facing a grim diagnosis, walking by faith is saying, “God, I don’t understand, but I’m going to love and serve You regardless.  Guide me in this journey.”

The key to living life as a follower of Jesus Christ is to never lose faith in the end of the story. - Glenn C. Stewart Click To Tweet

As we continue to learn, grow and walk, we discover that He uses our situations to build our trust in Him.  1 Corinthians 2:5 perfectly describes this point: “That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

  • A heated argument with a loved one may reveal areas of our character and attitude that still require work and growth .
  • A job loss may open the way for a better job or business opportunity.
  • Failing health may put us in the path of someone who needs to see faith, grace and peace in action.

We may not understand God’s ways in each situation, but we never have a reason to stop trusting Him.  Walking by faith is simply trusting God every step along the way.

Faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness. - Barbara Johnson Click To Tweet
Walking by faith includes these 8 essentials:

  • Confidence that God is in control, no matter what we face
  • Living in obedience to God’s Word in how we conduct our lives
  • Prioritizing our life with eternal goals rather than just worldly ambitions
  • Seeking to please God every day in relationships, activity, and behavior
  • Pursuing God’s specific will and purpose for our life
  • Desire to choose righteousness as a lifestyle over sin
  • Worshipping God, both in our personal life, and as a church
  • Finding ways to serve God, His people and our neighbor

What would you add?

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*All verses are from the ESV version of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.

James Armstrong

Founder and Executive Editor, James brings a passion for helping believers and the church rediscover the call to discipleship as the primary mission of the Church. He is currently writing his PhD dissertation in Systematic Theology on Mysterion and its implications for the Church. James founded Becoming Disciples as a platform to equip believers around the world to fulfill the Great Commission.
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