In honor of Charles Spurgeon’s birthday last Friday, this week we’re bringing you Spurgeon’s comments on walking by faith and not by sight. Walking by faith is both a posture and an activity, symbolizing our actions in following Jesus.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”—2 Cor. 5:7.
I think the apostle is here explaining how it was he could say, that whilst he was at home in the body, he was absent from the Lord; and through what means he felt that this was not the state in which he wished ever to be. Having been possessed, and actuated, and moved by the principle of faith, he was not content to tabernacle in a body which could only be dwelt in satisfactorily through the influence of the faculty of sight.
The apostle, however, mentions here a great general principle—“We walk by faith, not by sight;” and, in talking upon this text this evening, we shall—without pretending to go into it fully—speak, first of all, upon the posture mentioned; then upon the two principles contrasted; and then upon a certain caution which is here implied.
Dead men sitting
I. First, a word or two about the posture mentioned.
Paul, speaking of believers, says: “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Walking is, of course, a posture which implies the possession of life. You can make a dead man sit in a certain position, or even stand in a chosen attitude; but to walk necessitates the possession of inward life. It becomes with us, therefore, a question in the first place, whether we have the life of God within us.
In the sense in which the term “walk” is here used, the ungodly man does not walk at all. He hastens after his own lusts, and he treads in the way of the flesh; but in a spiritual sense he is, and always must be, a stranger to “walking” until God has quickened him. When we shall see corpses walking along our high-roads, and pass them at eventide in our streets, then shall we expect to see Christian feelings, Christian emotions, and Christian character exhibited by unconverted men, but not till then. There must first be an inward life, before there can be the outward sign of it.
But, walking is a position which also signifies activity. You would suppose, from the way in which some Christians deport themselves, that their whole life was spent in meditation. It is a blessed thing to sit
“With Mary at the Master’s feet;”
but we walk as well as sit. We do not merely learn, but we practise what we know. We are not simply scholars, but, having been taught as scholars, we go on to show our scholarship by working in the vineyard, and wherever else the Master may be pleased to place us.
The quietists and mystics are a class of people who have a peculiar attraction for my mind; and I suppose the mention of such a name as that of Madame Guyon, who, among females, stands at the very head of the school, will awaken in many of you many sweet remembrances of times enjoyed in reading her blessed hymns, and her sweet and admirable life. But, after all, it is not the highest style of Christian living to be a mystic or a quietist.
Get up, get out, and go!
“We walk.” Some Christians seem as if they always sat; but “we walk.” You would gather, indeed, from what others say, that the whole life of a Christian is to be spent in prayer. We do “continue in prayer,” but we are also engaged in showing forth to others the blessings which we have received, and in exhibiting in our daily actions the fruits which we have gathered on the mountain-top of communion with God.
“We walk,” and this implies activity. Oh! I would that some Christians would pay a little attention to their legs, instead of paying it all to their heads. When children’s heads grow too fast it is a sign of disease, and they get the rickets, or water on the brain. So, there are some very sound brethren, who seem to me to have got some kind of disease, and when they try to walk, they straightway make a tumble of it, because they have paid so much attention to perplexing doctrinal views, instead of looking, as they ought to have done, to the practical part of Christianity.
By all means let us have doctrine, but by all means let us have precept too. By all means let us have inward experience, but by all means let us also have outward “holiness, without which no man can see the Lord.” “We walk.” This is more than some can say. They can affirm—“We talk; we think; we experience; we feel;” but true Christians can say, with the apostle Paul, “We walk.” Oh that we may ever be able to say it too!
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