“Walking by Faith, Not by Sight”
“We are walking by faith, not by sight.”—2 CORINTHIANS 5:7.
1. What is meant by “walking by faith”?
EVERY time we pray in harmony with the directions set out in God’s Word, we indicate that we have at least some measure of faith. When we begin to witness to others about God’s Kingdom, this too shows faith. And when we dedicate our lives to Jehovah, we are giving evidence that it is our desire to ‘walk by faith,’ that is, to pursue a life course that is governed by faith.—2 Corinthians 5:7; Colossians 1:9, 10.
2. Why is participation in congregation activities not necessarily proof that one has faith?
2 If we are truly going to live in such a manner, we need faith that is well-founded. (Hebrews 11:1, 6) Many people are attracted to Jehovah’s Witnesses because of the high moral standards and the love that they see among the Witnesses. That is a fine start, but it does not mean that such people have faith. Others may have a marriage mate or a parent who is strong in faith, and they may share in some of the activities engaged in by that one whom they love. Having such an influence in one’s home is truly a blessing, but this too is no substitute for personal love of God and personal faith.—Luke 10:27, 28.
3. (a) For us to have well-founded faith, what conviction must we personally have regarding the Bible? (b) Why do some people become convinced of the Bible’s inspiration more readily than others do?
3 Those who truly walk by faith are fully convinced that the Bible is the Word of God. There is abundant evidence that the Holy Scriptures are, indeed, “inspired of God.”* (2 Timothy 3:16) How much of this evidence must be examined before a person is convinced? That may depend on his background. What fully satisfies one person may not persuade another. In some cases, even though a person is shown an abundance of irrefutable evidence, he may still resist the conclusion toward which it points. Why? Because of desires buried deep in his heart. (Jeremiah 17:9) Thus, although a person may profess interest in God’s purpose, his heart may crave approval by the world. He may not want to let go of a manner of life that conflicts with Bible standards. However, if anyone is truly hungry for truth, if he is honest with himself, and if he is humble, he will in time realize that the Bible is God’s Word.
4. What is required on the part of an individual in order to acquire faith?
4 Often in just a few months, people who are being helped to study the Bible appreciate that they have already seen more than enough proof that it is the Word of God. If this moves them to open their heart to be instructed by Jehovah, then their inmost thoughts, their desires, and their motivations will gradually be molded by what they learn. (Psalm 143:10) Romans 10:10 says that it is “with the heart” that a person exercises faith. Such faith expresses how the individual really feels, and it will be manifest in his course of life.
Noah Acted on Well-Founded Faith
5, 6. On what was Noah’s faith based?
5 Noah was one who had well-founded faith. (Hebrews 11:7) What basis did he have for it? Noah had God’s word, not in written form, but as spoken to him. Genesis 6:13 says: “God said to Noah: ‘The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them.’” Jehovah directed Noah to build an ark and provided details regarding its construction. Then God added: “As for me, here I am bringing the deluge of waters upon the earth to bring to ruin all flesh in which the force of life is active from under the heavens. Everything that is in the earth will expire.”—Genesis 6:14-17.
6 Had there been rain prior to this? The Bible does not say. Genesis 2:5 says: “Jehovah God had not made it rain.” But this is how Moses, who lived centuries later, expressed matters in discussing not Noah’s day but a time long before that. As shown at Genesis 7:4, Jehovah referred to rain when speaking to Noah, and evidently Noah understood what he meant. Yet, Noah’s faith was not in what he could see. The apostle Paul wrote that Noah was “given divine warning of things not yet beheld.” God told Noah that He was going to bring upon the earth “the deluge of waters,” or “the heavenly ocean,” as a footnote in the New World Translation expresses it at Genesis 6:17. Down to that time, such a thing had never occurred. But all creation visible to Noah stood as an evident demonstration that God could indeed bring such a destructive deluge. Moved by faith, Noah built the ark.
7. (a) What did Noah not need in order to do what God had commanded him? (b) How are we benefited by considering Noah’s faith, and how can our faith be a blessing to others?
7 God had not given Noah a date when the Deluge would begin. But Noah did not use that as an excuse for adopting a wait-and-see attitude, putting ark-building and preaching in second place in his life. In ample time, God told Noah when to move into the ark. Meanwhile, “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” (Genesis 6:22) Noah walked by faith, not by sight. How grateful we are that he did! Because of his faith, we are alive today. In our case too, the faith that we show can have a profound effect on what the future holds not only for us but also for our children and for other people around us.
The Faith of Abraham
8, 9. (a) Upon what did Abraham base his faith? (b) In what way did Jehovah ‘appear’ to Abraham?
8 Consider another example—that of Abraham. (Hebrews 11:8-10) Upon what did Abraham base his faith? The surroundings in which he grew up in Ur of the Chaldeans were idolatrous and materialistic. But other influences shaped Abraham’s outlook. No doubt he could associate with Noah’s son Shem, whose life overlapped his by 150 years. Abraham became convinced that Jehovah is “the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth.”—Genesis 14:22.
9 Something else had a profound influence on Abraham. Jehovah “appeared to . . . Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia, before he took up residence in Haran, and he said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your relatives and come on into the land I shall show you.’” (Acts 7:2, 3) In what way did Jehovah ‘appear’ to Abraham? Abraham did not see God directly. (Exodus 33:20) However, it is possible that Jehovah appeared to Abraham in a dream, with a supernatural display of glory, or by means of an angelic messenger, or representative. (Compare Genesis 18:1-3; 28:10-15; Leviticus 9:4, 6, 23, 24.) Whatever the means by which Jehovah appeared to Abraham, that faithful man had confidence that God was setting a precious privilege before him. Abraham responded in faith.
10. How did Jehovah fortify Abraham’s faith?
10 Abraham’s faith did not depend on his having details about the land to which God was directing him. It did not hinge on his knowing when that land would be given to him. He had faith because he knew Jehovah as God Almighty. (Exodus 6:3) Jehovah told Abraham that he would have offspring, but at times Abraham wondered how that could be. He was getting old. (Genesis 15:3, 4) Jehovah fortified Abraham’s faith by telling him to look up at the stars and count them if he could. “So your seed will become,” said God. Abraham was deeply moved. It was obvious that the Creator of those awe-inspiring heavenly bodies could fulfill what he had promised. Abraham “put faith in Jehovah.” (Genesis 15:5, 6) Abraham did not believe simply because he liked what he was hearing; he had well-founded faith.
11. (a) As he neared 100 years of age, how did Abraham react to God’s promise that aged Sarah would bear a son? (b) With what sort of faith did Abraham face the test involved in taking his son to Mount Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice?
11 When Abraham was close to 100 years of age and his wife, Sarah, near the age of 90, Jehovah again stated his promise that Abraham would have a son and that Sarah would be the mother. Abraham realistically gave thought to their situation. “But because of the promise of God he did not waver in a lack of faith, but became powerful by his faith, giving God glory and being fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do.” (Romans 4:19-21) Abraham knew that the promise of God could not fail. Later, because of his faith, Abraham obeyed when God told him to take his son Isaac to the land of Moriah and offer him up as a sacrifice. (Genesis 22:1-12) Abraham had full confidence that the God who had miraculously caused that son to be born could also bring him back to life in order to fulfill the further promises that He had made in connection with him.—Hebrews 11:17-19.
12. How long did Abraham continue to walk by faith, and what reward awaits him and his family members who demonstrated strong faith?
12 Abraham showed that he was governed by faith not merely in isolated circumstances but throughout his life. During his lifetime Abraham did not receive from God any portion of the Promised Land as an inheritance. (Acts 7:5) Yet, Abraham did not grow weary and return to Ur of the Chaldeans. For 100 years, right down to his death, he lived in tents in the land to which God had directed him. (Genesis 25:7) Concerning him and his wife Sarah, their son Isaac, and their grandson Jacob, Hebrews 11:16 says: “God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.” Yes, Jehovah has a place for them in the earthly realm of his Messianic Kingdom.
13. Who among Jehovah’s servants today give evidence of having faith like that of Abraham?
13 There are those among Jehovah’s servants today who are like Abraham. They have walked by faith for many years. In the strength that God gives, they have overcome mountainlike obstacles. (Matthew 17:20) They are not wavering in faith because they do not know just when God is going to give them the inheritance that he has promised. They know that the word of Jehovah cannot fail, and they count it a priceless privilege to be numbered among his Witnesses. Is that how you feel?
The Faith That Moved Moses
14. How was the foundation laid for Moses’ faith?
14 Another example of faith is Moses. What was the foundation for his faith? It was laid in infancy. Although Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in a papyrus chest in the Nile River and took him as her son, Moses’ own Hebrew mother, Jochebed, nursed the boy and had him in her care during his early years. Jochebed evidently taught him well, inculcating love for Jehovah and appreciation for His promises to Abraham. Later, as a member of Pharaoh’s household, Moses “was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” (Acts 7:20-22; Exodus 2:1-10; 6:20; Hebrews 11:23) In spite of Moses’ favored position, however, his heart was with God’s enslaved people.
15. What did identifying himself with Jehovah’s people mean for Moses?
15 In his 40th year, Moses struck down an Egyptian in order to deliver an Israelite who was being treated unjustly. This incident showed how Moses viewed God’s people. Indeed, “by faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh.” Instead of clinging to “the temporary enjoyment of sin” as a member of the Egyptian court, he had been moved by faith to identify himself with the ill-treated people of God.—Hebrews 11:24, 25; Acts 7:23-25.
16. (a) What commission did Jehovah give to Moses, and how did God help him? (b) In carrying out his commission, how did Moses show faith?
16 Moses was eager to take action to bring relief to his people, but God’s time for their deliverance had not yet come. Moses had to flee from Egypt. Not until about 40 years later did Jehovah by means of an angel commission Moses to return to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of that land. (Exodus 3:2-10) How did Moses react? He did not express doubt as to Jehovah’s ability to deliver Israel, but he did feel inadequate for the role that God set before him. Lovingly, Jehovah provided the encouragement that Moses needed. (Exodus 3:11–4:17) Moses’ faith grew strong. He went back to Egypt and repeatedly warned Pharaoh face-to-face of plagues that would come upon Egypt for that ruler’s failure to let Israel go to worship Jehovah. Moses had no personal power to cause those plagues. He walked by faith, not by sight. His faith was in Jehovah and his word. Pharaoh threatened Moses. But Moses persevered. “By faith he left Egypt, but not fearing the anger of the king, for he continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) Moses was not perfect. He made mistakes. (Numbers 20:7-12) After being commissioned by God, however, his overall course of life was governed by faith.
17. Walking by faith resulted in what for Noah, Abraham, and Moses, even though they did not live to see God’s new world?
17 May your faith prove to be like that of Noah, Abraham, and Moses. It is true that they did not see God’s new world in their day. (Hebrews 11:39) It was not yet God’s appointed time; there were other aspects of his purpose that still needed to be accomplished. Yet, their faith in God’s word did not waver, and their names are in God’s book of life.
18. For those called to heavenly life, why has it been necessary to walk by faith?
18 “God foresaw something better for us,” wrote the apostle Paul. That is, God foresaw something better for those who, like Paul, have been called to heavenly life with Christ. (Hebrews 11:40) These are the ones that Paul particularly had in mind when he wrote the words recorded at 2 Corinthians 5:7: “We are walking by faith, not by sight.” When that was written, none of them had yet attained to their heavenly reward. They could not see it with their physical eyes, but their faith in it was well-founded. Christ had been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those to be blessed with heavenly life. And over 500 witnesses had seen him before his ascension to heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) They had ample reason to govern their entire life course by that faith. We too have sound reasons for walking by faith.
19. As shown at Hebrews 1:1, 2, by means of whom has God spoken to us?
19 Today, Jehovah is not speaking to his people by means of an angel, as he did to Moses at the burning bush. God has spoken by means of his Son. (Hebrews 1:1, 2) What God said by means of him, He had recorded in the Bible, which has been translated into the languages of people around the world.
20. How is our situation much more favorable than that of Noah, Abraham, and Moses?
20 We have much more than Noah, Abraham, and Moses had. We have the complete Word of God—much of it already fulfilled. In view of all that the Bible says about men and women who proved themselves faithful witnesses of Jehovah in the face of trials of every sort, Hebrews 12:1 urges: “Let us also put off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Our faith is not something to take for granted. “The sin that easily entangles us” is lack of faith. A hard fight is required if we are to keep on “walking by faith.”
18. For those called to heavenly life, why has it been necessary to walk by faith?