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The Difference Between Faith and Sight

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What the story of Elisha and his servant teach us about the difference between faith and sight

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A few weeks ago when we first started this series I began by sharing with you some scripture passages that remind us that we, as Christians, are called to live this life that God has given us by faith
This morning I want to revisit the very first passage I gave you at that time
Open up your Bible this morning to Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth and let’s look at verse 7 again
2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV
For we live by faith, not by sight.
Now for the past few weeks we’ve been looking at the first half of that verse and just what it means to live by faith, I series that I admit if I wasn’t going on sabbatical would probably take us through the summer
This morning however I think that it is important that we acknowledge that there is a second part of that verse, “We live by faith, NOT BY SIGHT
Ladies have you ever sent your man, or your kids, to the store to get something for you and as they are walking out of the house you feel compelled to clarify what it is you want
Perhaps you are trying to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner and you run out of heavy creme and you need more but you are to busy so you ask him to run this errand for you
And as he walks out the door you have this nagging feeling that he’s going to bring home the wrong stuff and so you yell from the kitchen, the heavy creme, not table cream or condensed milk
Paul is doing just that here
He tells the people that we live by faith but in his heart he is concerned that they are going to confuse that with something else and so he says, ‘Make sure it is faith that you are living by and not sight. Don’t confuse the two.’
So if Paul felt it necessary to clarify this for the Corinthians, it is probably a very good idea to make sure that we also know the difference between the two so that we do not get them mixed up and live the wrong way
So this morning we are going to look at the difference between living by faith and living by sight and to do that we are going to go once again into the Old Testament and take a look at a story you are likely already familiar with where we find both of these options happening
Take your Bible and go backwards to the book of 2 Kings chapter 6 and let’s read about Elisha, whom you probably guessed is our example of living by faith, and his servant who is our example of living by sight
Verses 8-14 set up the scene for us and I think that reading them would be quicker than trying to explain it to you
2 Kings 6:8–14 NIV
Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.” The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and just had the feeling that it was going to be a bad day
The cat peed in your slipper, the dog knocked over the plant in the living room and dirt is everywhere, you are all out of coffee and the toaster burnt the toast, and to top it all off you are already late for a meeting at work, the car is on empty and it’s not until you get out the door and down the road that you realize the kids got chocolate on the top you are wearing
Imagine the worst start you ever had to any day of your life, okay now I want you to realize that it didn’t even come close to the way that the day was starting for Elisha and his servant
Now fast forward to the next morning and Elisha’s servant gets up early, gets the coffee on and has breakfast on the go and he goes out to the front porch to get the paper but it’s not there which is strange and so he looks up and down the street to see if he can see where the paper boy is but all he can see are enemy soldiers on horseback,
He knows why they’re there and he realizes very quickly the predicament that he and his employer are in
2 Kings 6:15–17 NIV
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6:15-
Here is where we find the differences between living by faith and living by sight
The first difference is that faith sees what our senses miss
In the natural realm “seeing is believing” but I hope that by now you realize that God is not confined to the way that things are done in the natural realm, His ways are so much higher than ours and His thoughts so far superior to the way that we think and so in God’s kingdom, which we are all a part of, believing is seeing
Don’t get me wrong here, I am NOT saying that by our faith things are brought into being as if we can manipulate God into doing what we want to do like the ‘name it and claim’ theology would suggest
What I am saying is that our faith opens our eyes to the reality of God’s ways which are already in place
God’s army was already there BEFORE either Elisha or his servant believed
God’s healing is already there before you believe, God’s ability to fix your marriage or restore you family or to reach you children and grandchildren is already there
And when we live by faith instead of our senses we adjust our way accordingly
Proverbs 3:5–8 NIV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
Proverbs 3:5-
In Mark chapter 9 a father approaches Jesus about his demon possessed boy for whom Christ’s disciples were unable to do anything
Mark 9:20–24 NIV
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:20-
May we all be blessed with such an attitude, ‘Father I am living by faith but please help me in those areas where I am still trusting in my senses instead of trusting in you. Please help me in those areas where I am trusting in my own logic instead of in your Word.’
I want you to understand this morning that our senses do NOT know the whole story but by faith in the living and active Word of God we DO know how the story turns out!
(The Message)
17–18 We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
Now onto the second difference that we see, Faith brings us peace whereas our senses lead to fear and panic
When Elisha’s servant sees that the army of Aram has completely surrounded the city, he goes into panic mode
His senses all tell him that this is a no-win situation, that all prospects are grim and that there is no getting out of this
And so what does Elisha say to Him?
“Do not be afraid.”
Our senses only “see” the circumstances but our faith “sees” the outcome
It has been said that this phrase, “Do not be afraid” is recorded in the Bible in one form or another 365 times, once for every day of the year
Now I can’t confirm whether that is true or not, I haven’t counted them all, but what I CAN tell you is this, the term, “Do not be afraid” occurs an awful lot in the Bible
Back in the prayer room we have hanging on the wall which says,
Philippians 4:6 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
But let’s read it again and continue on to the next verse,
Philippians 4:6–7 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Don’t be anxious, that is to look at the situation with our 5 senses, but instead, in faith, bring everything to God, and He will provide you with a peace that transcends explanation, a peace that makes no sense, a peace that you shouldn’t be able to have in that situation
As Jesus was preparing Himself for the cross, He was also trying to prepare the disciples to live by faith after His ascension and so in He told them,
John 14:25–26 NIV
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:25
John 14:25–27 NIV
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
This kind of peace you cannot get from your senses, this kind of peace God gives you in spite of your senses
So let’s move on to our third difference, living by faith leads us into holy righteous living while living by sight leads us into sin
Let’s go back to verse 18 in our text
2 Kings 6:18–23 NIV
As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria. After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?” “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
2 Kings 6:18-
Aram was Israel’s enemy and had making life miserable for God’s people for quite some time now and it wouldn’t have been beyond reason to kill all of these soldiers and make a statement to the king of Aram and risk an all out war
But Elisha, who lived by faith, wouldn’t do such a thing, he had a different solution, a Godly solution that ended up solving their problem
So how does this apply to us, I doubt any of us will be throwing a giant banquet for all our enemies any time soon
Well let’s come at it from a different perspective
There is no doubt in my mind that God gave us our 5 senses so that we could experience and enjoy every good thing that He has created for our pleasure
But ever since the fall, man has done everything he can to pervert those pleasures and live only for his own pleasure
Listen to what the great chapter of faith says about Moses,
Hebrews 11:24-27
Hebrews 11:24–27 NIV
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
In we read how when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, he replied, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (verse 9)
It says that day after day she tried to wear him down and day after day his answer was the same
Imagine the pleasures that Moses gave up as a result of refusing to live by his senses and consider the punishment that Joseph endured as a result of his refusal to live by his senses
Living by faith means denying ourselves of our sinful flesh, of those things that we know offend God so that those sinful pleasures do not end up robbing us of the true fullness of life that God desires for us
Living by sight means living to please our senses, living by faith means living to please God
Does that mean it’s a sin to please the flesh? No not always, like enjoying a beautiful sunset or the perfect poutine
But which one has the priority in your life?
Romans 8:5–6 NIV
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:
tells us, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ and so transversely we can say that, ‘Those who live by faith will live righteously’
tells us, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ and so consequentially we can say that, ‘Those who live by faith will live righteously’
And there we have it, I’m sure that we could find many more differences between living by faith and living by sight but these are the 3 that I wanted to draw out of our text;
Faith sees what our senses miss
Faith brings peace while sight brings fear
Faith leads to righteousness and life while sight leads to sin and death
Let’s pray
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