We Live by Faith, Not by Sight
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
Key Verse: 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
In chapter 4 Paul encouraged the Corinthians not to lose heart. They do not need to lose heart because they are saved and called by God’s mercy and grace. God knows our weakness and mistake, still God wants us to serve him because of his grace. We do not lose heart because we have hope for eternal life in his kingdom. He will raise us up as he raised Jesus. We do not lose our heart because our labor is not vain. All our labor and sacrifice for the Lord will be rewarded someday. In chapter 5 Paul encourages them to have confidence. Let’s see how and why we must have confidence in our life.
First, we have confidence because an eternal house is provided for us. (1-5) Look at verse 1. “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” Paul compares our physical body to an earthly tent. He describes our life on this earth as a temporary and transitory life in a tent. No one wants to stay in a tent forever. A tent is a temporary shelter which helps us avoid rain, wind, or heat. People want to live in a house, not in a tent. Those who stay in tents are the homeless or tourists. They long to live in a house, not in a tent.
If the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have an eternal house in heaven built by God. Death is destroying this earthly tent. We know that some day without exemption all people will remove their tents from this earth. No one can stay in this earthly tent forever but leave from this earth. Then, we go somewhere either up (heaven) or down (hell). People on this earth are too attached to this earthly tent. They spend much money and time to decorate their tent even though they will soon perish and be removed. They even boast about the size of their tent. John said in 1 John 2:17, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” We Christians, who have hope for eternal life in heaven, spend time and money for our eternal house, not for the earthly tent. We have confidence in this. So, we do not lose heart even though some of us still live in an apartment or a rented house. Our eternal house is in heaven, not on this earth.
As life in a tent is inconvenient, our life on this earth is not easy. As long as we live in this earthly tent, we groan and are burdened. Look at verses 2-4. “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” In these verses Paul mentions that people are longing to be clothed with heavenly dwelling. In other words, all people want to live forever. While living in this earthly tent, we groan and are burdened by the price of sin. Because of Adam’s sin this earth was cursed, and death came to men. No matter how hard we work for eternal life on this earth, we all die and will depart naked as we came at birth naked. (Job 1:21) This is an unavoidable and undeniable destiny for all human beings. But since God put the desire for eternity in human hearts, we all want to live forever. (Ecc 3:11) This desire for eternity defeats the power of death. This is why Paul said in verse 4 that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
We have confidence in our eternity because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit. God sent the Holy Spirit to us that the Holy Spirit confirms our salvation. Look at verse 5. “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” When we buy or sell or rent something, we are asked to put a deposit for guarantee. God sent the Holy Spirit as a deposit to guarantee for our future. God is the one who fashioned and designed both earthly tents and eternal house. He made them and enabled us to live there. Then he guaranteed our eternal house through the Holy Spirit. As a landlord, I ask all applicants for a security deposit to guarantee for their rent. If they violate the contract, they lose their deposit. God, the owner of eternal house in heaven, did not ask us a security deposit from our hard work, but he asked us just faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to pay because Jesus paid it all in our place. Amen! Jesus paid and the Holy Spirit guaranteed. Praise God! This is the reason why we have confidence in our future.
Second, we have confidence because we live by faith, not by sight. (6-7) Look at verses 6-7. “Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight.” In these verses being at home in the body and being away from the Lord are the same, which indicates life on this earth. When we live according to earthly desire, we are far away from the Lord. When we live based on what is seen, we may lose what is unseen. But we have confidence because we live by faith, not by sight. What does this verse mean? We interpret it in three ways: first, we live by faith in God who is invisible, not in things of the world which are visible. For example, when a shepherd boy David confronted a giant Goliath, he came to him by faith. Even though he carried a sling and a few stones, he came forward in the name of the LORD Almighty. People judged them according to outward appearance and human condition, but David fought by faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God. Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he gives reward to those who earnestly seek him.” In this spiritual warfare we must live by faith in God Almighty who will deliver us from the hand of our enemies. Second, we trust in God’s promise which will be fulfilled in the future rather than in present human conditions. When God called Abraham, God did not show him the promised land. God just commanded him to leave his country, his faither’s household and to go to the land. Abraham obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going. (Heb 11:8) Abraham lived by faith, not by sight. God promised Abraham to become a father of many nations. But God did not give him a child for 10 years. Abraham believed that God would keep his promise with many children. Abraham saw the future which God’s promise would be kept. He believed God’s promise, not present situation. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In other version it says, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is to have confidence and assurance that God will keep his promise in the future even though we cannot see at present. Third, we put our hope in what is unseen, not in what is seen. In 4:18 Paul said, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” What is seen is related to the earthly tent which will soon perish, fade away and disappear. What is unseen is related to the eternal house which will never perish, spoil, but kept in heaven for us. We cannot see our heavenly dwelling with our physical eyes, but we can see it with our spiritual eyes, the eyes of faith. Now we studied what the words “We live by faith, not by sight.” mean. We live by faith in God Almighty who is invisible.” “We trust in God’s promise which will be fulfilled in the future.” “We put our hope in what is unseen.” Amen!
Third, we have confidence because we all will stand before the judgement seat of Christ. (8-10) Look at verses 8-9, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” Paul’s confidence in an eternal house is spotted in other letters which he sent to other churches. In his letter to the Romans he said, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Ro 14:8). He also said in the Philippians 1:21-26, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain...I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body...” Paul was confident of his life because he was sure of eternal life with the Lord Jesus in heaven. Whether he lived or died, his goal was to please the Lord. Paul wanted to share his confidence with the Corinthians. Paul wanted them to live for the glory of God and in the sight of God.
Now look at verse 10. “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” This verse teaches us human destiny after death. Some say that death is the end of everything. They claim that nobody knows what will happen to us after we die. But Paul clearly answers them what will happen to all who die. We all will appear before the judgement seat of Christ. Hebrews 9:27 says, “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement.” Paul adds in Romans 2:6-8, “God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Revelation speaks about the serious judgement in this. “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolators and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Rev 21:8) This is the scary message to all human beings. We all will be judged after our earthly tent is destroyed. We all stand before the judgement seat of Christ with our life record. No one can avoid this moment, but we all will face this moment. Someone said that angels will come to escort the believers to heaven and that the agents of death will arrive to the unbelievers to take them to hell.
The believers will be resurrected to be rewarded. The unbelievers will be resurrected to be condemned. We have confidence that we will stand before the seat of Christ to be rewarded. We will hear the voice of Christ, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” Come with me to join the heavenly banquet!” Paul had confidence for this moment. Do you have confidence for this moment? Are you ready to stand before the judgement seat of Christ? When I got a heart attack, I was afraid of death. This is because I was not ready to stand before the judgement seat of Christ. I was not prepared. Now I have confidence in my future. I am sure of my eternal house in his kingdom. I pray that we all may be prepared and ready for the judgement seat of Christ whether you are young or old.
In conclusion we must live by faith, not by sight. Let us put our hope on the eternal house, not on the earthly tents. Let us have confidence in our future even though we confront present sufferings. May God richly bless you when you live by faith, not by sight. Amen!