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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Walking By Sight and Not By Faith - Part 2

2 Corinthians 5:7 - For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Abraham presents a holy contrast to Lot. Lot walked by sight. Abraham walked by faith in God. The way these two walked made all the difference in the world. We find this contrast in walks most vividly presented in Genesis. In Genesis God blessed both Abraham and Lot. Their flocks were growing. Abraham’s and Lot’s herdsmen began to fight and it became apparent they need to part ways. Abraham man of faith in full surrender to God’s will gave Lot the choice of the land. How did Lot make his choice? It says, “Lot lifted his eyes and saw . . .” (Gen. 13:10). Abraham made his decision by faith. He surrendered his rights as the elder and superior to his nephew Lot and let Lot decide what land he would move to. Lot had no reservations about taking advantage of his uncle’s humble spirited offer. He looked around and walked by sight.

Walking by sight got Lot into a lot of trouble. He found himself in the middle of a conflict and had to be rescued by Abraham (Gen. 14). Walking by sight got Lot closer and closer to the sin city of Sodom and ultimately to within a hair’s breadth of God’s fire and brimstone judgment on the Sodomites (Gen. 19). Abraham, man of faith, on the other hand, trusted God to bring victory in a righteous rescue mission of his nephew even though he was greatly outnumbered (Gen 14:12-16). He met the Melchizedek, the Christophany (Gen. 14:17-24; John 8:56-59). He had a close personal relationship with God. There is no evidence of that in the life of Lot. Abraham was not without flaws. Twice he lied instead of depending on God (Gen. 12; 20). He gave in to the carnal strategy of his wife Sarah which led to a perpetual conflict of peoples (Gen. 16). And yet with both Abraham and Lot when referred to in the New Testament no mention of these lapses are recorded. It is only said that they were righteous. That is a testament to the grace of God.

God commands us to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Our problem is that we too often walk by sight and not by faith. We are preoccupied with the way we look or others look physically. We are obsessed with outward appearance. We are like the actor Ricardo Montalbon who used to say, “When you look good you feel good.” Pharisees were obsessed with outward appearance and Jesus rebuked them (Mat. 23:27, 28). God instructs us to look deeper than outward superficialities, to the heart (1 Sam. 16:7; 2 Cor. 10:7).

When Jesus taught about our connection to the things of this world He said:

Matthew 6:19-24 - 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

There’s a reason why Jesus referred to “the eye” when talking about how we relate to the things of this world. It is through the eye and what we see that we are often tempted to make imbalanced connections or attachments. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” which implies its’ possible to become enslaved to the things of this world. That happens when we are lured into a bondage to things by what we see.
The word “mammon” (μαμμωνᾶς - mammōnas mam-mo-nas´, or μαμωνᾶς mamōnas mam-o-nas´) refers to earthly wealth, riches or property. Jesus personifies Mammon here. Because of that some Christians viewed Mammon as a demon. One commentator states:

That wealth can exercise an overwhelming power over people and enslave them is an insight well-known also among Greeks and Romans as is evident from the much-quoted sentence that love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10; cf. for its variants P. W. van der HORST, The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides [Leiden 1978] 142–143; K. S. FRANK, Habsucht, RAC XIII [1986] 226–247). In some later Christian sources Mamonas is depicted as a demon, ‘wealth’ being personified apparently on the basis of the fact that Luke 16:13 opposes mamonas to God and calls both God and Mammon →kyrioi (see E. PETERSON, Engel- und Personennamen, RhMus NF 75 [1926] 406–69).

It shouldn’t surprise us that a connection would be made between the use of worldly wealth in and enslaving way and demonic activity. Wealth and material goods are easily manipulated by way of seeing them so that they can become alluring to the point of obsession, even addiction. Go shopping on Black Friday or when there is a big sale or a desired valued item is offered in limited quantities and you will see in the eyes of the buyers a narcotic effect. Some commentators have pointed out that there is a god of Mammon, a demonic entity that uses the things of this world and lust for them as a means to lure people away from God.

The words “faith, believe, trust, and genuine belong to the same [word] stem as Mammon.” A choice needs to be made. As Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters . . . You cannot serve God and mammon.” No, we need to follow the instructions of Jesus who introduced these verses with the words, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” We begin our choice by deciding to walk by faith and not by sight. We guard and protect and grow in that choice by seeing with eyes of faith.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness he did so by showing Jesus “the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Mat. 4:8). Of course Jesus didn’t succumb to the temptation to gain all He saw by bowing down in worship to Satan. He responded with the word of God; “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Mat. 4:10). That’s how we should respond and defend against the lust of the eyes. When you walk by faith you will have a Biblical worldview. You will have a spiritual perspective that goes deeper than what is seen on the surface.

Seeing the world through eyes of faith means we look at the world or have a world view that uses the lens of God’s word. And in His word God tells us a few things that we need to recognize if we are to have the proper perspective in life. What are these points of perspective we need to consider?

First, eyes of faith see the truth because God has removed the blinders. The god of this world uses spiritual blindness to keep people from God (2 Cor. 4:4). God on the other hand, by His grace, love and mercy on the sinner, reaches down and lifts the blinders off so that we can see His offer of a better way of looking at things. The Bible states:

Psalm 146:8 - The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous.

This is God’s prevenient grace. This is the work of the Spirit who convicts the world of their sin (John 16:8-11). The Spirit confronts the blinding idolatry of those who walk by sight and concoct a “God” in their own image as they want or desire “God” to be. The sinner creates a mythological “God” that condones the particular sin they cherish and live in. There is a spiritual blindness, a commonness and worldliness where there should be a desire for holiness before the true Holy God of the Bible. The Devil and his demons can only blind people to the truth (John 10:21). Jesus on the other hand opens the eyes of the blind (John 9).
Scripture states:

Proverbs 22:12 - The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, But He overthrows the words of the faithless.

In other words, if we want to know what reality is really all about, we need to see things with the eyes of the LORD; from God’s perspective.

Second, eyes of faith see that God’s eyes are on us. The Bible says the following in this regard:

2 Chronicles 16:9a - For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. . . . (cf. also Psalm 33:18; 34:15; Proverbs 5:21; 15:3)

God is watching us. He watches and knows what we set our eyes on and how we see life. That’s important to Him. He is looking to bless those whose hearts are loyal to Him, who serve Him and not unrighteous mammon.

Third, eyes of faith see that what we look at impacts our lives. The Bible states:

Proverbs 17:24 - Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

Proverbs 27:20 - Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

These inspired words tell us that it is foolish to focus on the things of this world. A fool is someone who fails to factor God into their life equation (Psalm 14:1). But focusing on the world is also not good because the person who focuses on the world is “never satisfied.” The end of eyeing the world as the end all of life is emptiness.

Fourth, eyes of faith see that we must one day give an account to God who sees all. The Bible states:

Hebrews 4:13 - And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

God not only sees us, but one day will call all to give an account of who they decided to serve. Those who chose to serve what they see and walk by mere worldly sight will be separated from those who chose to walk by faith in Jesus. The former will spend eternity in hell watching tormenting visions. The later will go on see things that “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

Fifth, eyes of faith take into account how they are seen by others. With this eye opening information from the Lord and His word concerning the way we see things it’s important we also take into account how we are seen by others. If what is seen is so important, then who we present ourselves and are seen by others can influence people toward God or away from God. We should be considerate of what we watch or look at with others. We are living epistles (2 Cor. 3:3). Jesus is the embodiment of the Word. Similarly, we should be God’s word lived out in life. We should present ourselves in a way that people who see us see Jesus. This includes the way we talk, the way we live, the way we work, and even the way we look.

The bottom line is that we are God’s ambassadors; we represent Him (2 Cor. 5:20). We are called to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). We need to ask ourselves when people see me do they see the world or do they see Jesus?

Sixth, eyes of faith look to Jesus. We need to see things from God’s perspective. We need to have a holy perspective on life. In the Old Testament it states:

Psalm 123:2 - Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He has mercy on us. (cf. also Psalm 145:15)

We need to look to the Lord for direction. We need to look to God to see how He might want us to serve Him. He provides what we really need in life and in eternity. This is brought into more acute focus in the New Testament when it states:

Hebrews 12:1-2 - Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

It states, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Eyes of faith are a work of Jesus in us. He went to the cross to pay the debt of our sin so that when God removed the blinders we would have the most beautiful vision imaginable, a Savior Jesus Christ who made a way for us to be forgiven our sins, enter into an eternal personal saving relationship with God. That’s the perspective, the view, the glorious sight we need to focus and fix our eyes on.

From the early stages of the serpent’s influence to the final stages of his full blown dragonhood, Satan uses sight to steer us away from the Lord and His best for us. The apostle Paul was inspired to say that while people grope in darkness like the blind for meaning that the answer is not far from us (Acts 17:27). God has looked down on our groping in blindness and offered us a holy loving sight to behold, Jesus. Are you walking by sight and not by faith? When people see you, do they see Jesus? Receive God’s offer. Receive your sight from God. Shake off those things that entangle and twist your sight, and look to the Author and Finisher of your faith. Look to Jesus.

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