“What does the Bible mean by ‘We walk by faith?’”
The exact phrase is found in the King James rendition of 2 Cor. 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
The NIV reads, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” The Amplified version expands it, “for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]”
In the passage above Paul is writing about the frailty of these earthly bodies and how they are unsuited for eternity. He reminds his readers of the transformation that will come, and that by comparison all present troubles are indeed “light and momentary” (4:17). The believer rests in this hope and thereby “walks by faith, not by sight.”
This idea of the Christian walking, or living day-to-day, by faith is found throughout the New Testament.
Paul knows that in addition to their frailty, these bodies are also corrupt; their natural (fallen) inclinations are always to self and sin. The believer must refuse these, turning instead to the wishes and enablement of the Holy Spirit within. This is that “working out” of one’s salvation Paul spoke of to the Philippians (Phil. 2:12).
To the Galatians Paul wrote,
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Gal. 5:16-18).
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,” Paul writes (v.24). Just as he had said of himself, “I have been crucified with Christ…” (2:20). That “old man” is indeed crucified, but not yet expired. He yells and curses from that cross, even while writhing and growing ever weaker. Paul was well acquainted with this struggle too (See Romans chapter 7).
Our job is to think twice in all the little decisions of life… to “keep in step with the Spirit” (v.25)… to choose the Spirit over the flesh… each righteous decision one more “step” toward holiness. One day, that “old man” will pester no longer. We will not need to think “twice” for only the righteous thought will remain.
This journey is all by faith–our steadfast reliance upon the Holy Spirit. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
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