What does it mean to “walk by faith”?
Imagine you are hiking on a road – it is straight ahead and fenced in on each side. You don’t have any decisions to make. You’re fenced in on both sides.
But imagine you are hiking and you come to a fork in the road. Now you have to make a decision. Which way should you go? If you know where you are going, then you don’t have to worry about making the wrong decision. You just pick the right way.
Now imagine you were on this road and came to a fork in the road, and you weren’t sure which way to go.
You look over to the left and you see the sun shining, and birds singing, etc. But when you look to the right you see dark clouds swirling, and you see the tip of a tornado starting to come out of the clouds.
Which one would you take?
That is actually a picture of our lives. Throughout our lives we will face many decisions. Which way should I go?
And we have two voices that talk to us. The voice of God, or the voice of Satan.
God speaks to us through his Word and Satan speaks to us through the world and sometimes our own thoughts.
God says through his Word, “Believe this and do this and I will bless you incredibly.” Satan says through the world – through TV shows, through unbelievers, through songs on the radio: “No! Believe THIS. Do THIS, and you will be happy. Do this and you will have fun. Do this and people will like you.”
And the big question in our lives is who are we going to listen to?
And who are we going to believe? How are we going to walk? Will we walk by faith, trusting God’s word? Or will we trust in our own thoughts? Will we walk by faith in God’s promises or faith in Satan’s promises?
Paul told the Corinthians that he “walked by faith.”
…for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
He also told them…
…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Paul said he walked by faith not sight. He meant that he kept his spiritual eyes not on “the things that are seen” but on “the things that are unseen.” Spiritual realities. Spiritual truths.
So How Do We Walk By Faith?
How do we live this life keeping our eyes on spiritual realities? Keeping our eyes on God?
If we regularly take in God’s word, and meditate on it we will be blessed. But if we regularly take in the words of Satan and believe his lies, and obey them, we will suffer terrible consequences. God wants to bless you. God wants the best for you. Jesus wants you to know him and know his love and his joy.
Psalm 1 gives us a picture of what it means to walk by faith:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:1-6
The Voice Of Satan
Satan is not going to appear to us wearing red tights and carrying a pitchfork. Sometimes in cartoons, we see a character trying to make a decision – on one shoulder we see a tiny character like an angel with a halo telling the character the right thing to do.
On his other shoulder we see the same character dressed like the devil, with horns and a pitchfork, like Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove:
We do have two voices that speak to us: God and Satan. But they don’t sit on our shoulders and speak to us through cartoon characters.
God speaks to us through his Word, through the Holy Spirit who reminds us of God’s word, and through our brothers and sisters who remind us of God’s word. Satan speaks to us through our own thoughts at times, but he also speaks to us through people:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, stands in the way of sinners, sits in the seat of scoffers;
See what it says here?
Blessed is the man who WALKS NOT in THE COUNSEL OF THE WICKED,
When someone gives you “counsel” they tell you what you should do. They say, “Hey let me tell you what is going to make you happy.” The world is always giving us counsel. It says, “Hey look at this immoral site on your computer. You’ll really like it.” “Hey, go ahead and flirt with that co-worker. No one will know.”
Before Jesus saved me, I was in my teens and I was in a rock band. And this friend I was in a band with said, “Hey, you want to smoke some of this with me?” and he showed me a marijuana cigarette. “It’s really fun man. You’re gonna love it man. It is hilarious.” I said, “I don’t think so. I mean, it’s really not good for you.” But he kept talking to me: “It’s not going to hurt you. It’s really fun.” And eventually I gave in, which led to me using a lot of drugs.
The counsel of the wicked started in the garden of Eden when Satan said, “Has God really said?“
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17
God said this to Adam before God made Eve. So Adam would have shared God’s command with Eve. Later…
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
Satan is already twisting God’s word. “Did God really say that? That you can’t eat from ANY TREE in the garden?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. Genesis 3:2-4
Satan calls God a liar: “You will not surely die.” Satan is trying to get Eve to doubt God’s word. And he will try to do that to you and me. “Hey, nothing is going to happen to you if you do this…Look, thousands of other people are doing this and nothing is happening to them. In fact they are really happy…Satan goes on in his lies to Eve:
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5
Satan will try to get us to doubt God’s character. He tells Eve, “God knows that when you eat you will be like God.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6
See what Eve did? She listened to the counsel of the wicked. And then she walked in it. Instead of fleeing temptation, she looked at the fruit. And she doubted God’s word.
GOD WANTS TO BLESS US! And he says the way to be blessed is to NOT walk in the counsel of the wicked…
Blessed is the man o walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, sits in the seat of scoffers;
Note the PROGRESSION: First we listen to the “counsel of the wicked” and we start to walk that way. We start to do what they say. Then we begin to “stand in the way of sinners.” We’re more into sin. Then after a while we wind up “sitting in the seat of scoffers.” To scoff means to scorn something, to mock it, to deride it…”oh yeah right, the Bible is God’s word.” But God wants to bless us. So he gives us 3 steps to blessing:
3 STEPS TO BLESSING (HOW TO WALK BY FAITH): DELIGHT, MEDITATE, OBEY
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2
STEP 1 TO WALK BY FAITH: DELIGHT
To delight in something means we take pleasure in it. We do it because we believe it will bring us joy. Usually the things that are really delightful to us take a little time. They may not seem delightful at first.
Like when I first started playing guitar. It was hard. My fingers didn’t want to go where they needed to go. It was slow. I had to move one finger at a time. It was not “delightful.” But I really believed that if I kept at it, eventually I’d get good at it and enjoy it. Look what Jeremiah the prophet said:
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16
Your words were found, and I ate them…Jeremiah took God’s word in. He ate them. He started chewing on them. And then something happened: your words BECAME to me a joy and the delight of my heart,
It didn’t happen right away. Jeremiah took God’s words in and eventually God’s words BECAME A JOY AND THE DELIGHT OF HIS HEART
THIS HAPPENED TO ME WITH GOD’S WORD
Before Jesus saved me, someone told me get a bible and start to read it for a few minutes every day. Start with Matthew, Mark, Luke or John – one of the gospels. Just read it and do what it says to do. And it will change your life. So I did. I bought a paperback Bible and started to read it for a few minutes every day. It wasn’t easy at first. I didn’t understand everything at first. Some things even seemed really hard, like turning away from some sins I was doing. Some of God’s commands seemed hard, like forgiving people who sinned against me. But the more I did it, over time God’s word “became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.”
God’s word has changed my life! It has brought me more joy than anything else in the world.
If I had to be on a desert island and could only have one thing, I would choose the Bible. Like we talked about this morning. God’s word has become the greatest treasure in my life next to God himself. If you said you would give me $50 billion if I would never read God’s word again, I’d say, “Forget it. Keep your 50 billion. God’s word is infinitely more valuable.”
Ok, back to Psalm 1. We are blessed when we DON’T walk in the counsel of the wicked, and we are blessed when we DO this: when we meditate on God’s word.
STEP 2 TO WALK BY FAITH: MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2
What does it mean to meditate on God’s word? It means to think about it. To chew on it. To ponder how it applies to your life.
“Drive past a cattle farm any time, and you’re likely to see cows doing one of three things. They will either be eating, sleeping, or chewing. A lot of the time they look like they are chewing a giant wad of gum, for all hours of the day, even when they are nowhere near food!” — My Fearless Kitchen
Cows chew their food, swallow it, it goes down into their stomach, bacteria acts on the food, then the food comes back up into their mouths, they chew on it more, swallow it, their stomach acts on it more, and they keep repeating the process over and over. When it comes back up, it’s kind of like a big wad of gum. That’s called the cud. When they chew it over and over again, they get the most nutrients out of it.
When we meditate on God’s word, we don’t just read it once and then we’re done. We read it. We think about it. We apply it to our lives. We might say, “How do I need to do this?” We try our best to obey it.
STEP 3 TO WALK BY FAITH: OBEY
We MEDITATE on God’s word in order to OBEY God’s word. When we delight in God’s word and meditate on God’s word, then we should begin to obey God’s word. Remember how the Psalm started:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
We are blessed when we WALK in the counsel of God’s word. We meditate on God’s word in order to walk in it, or obey it. And God promises that when we meditate on God’s word and obey it he will BLESS us.
THE BLESSINGS THAT COME FROM WALKING BY FAITH:
WE ARE LIKE A PLANTED TREE
He is like a tree planted…Psalm1:3
To be planted means to be solid. Unshakable. We will withstand the storms of life. We can resist temptation. We will not be quickly shaken. When the storms come we won’t doubt God. We won’t think he has abandoned us.
WE ARE LIKE A TREE PLANTED BY STREAMS OF WATER
He is like a tree planted by streams of water Psalm 1:3
Streams of water represent spiritual life. Christ is our life. He will regularly refresh us. Every day he will give us new hope, new joy. We may go to bed exhausted but when we wake up Jesus will give us faith to keep going. This doesn’t mean we will experience continual joy and never be down. But it means that Jesus will continually give us spiritual life.
WE WILL BEAR FRUIT
that yields its fruit in its season Psalm 1:3
As we meditate upon and obey God’s word, the Holy Spirit will produce eternal fruit in us. We may not bear fruit immediately, but we will bear fruit in time. I once painted signs for a nursery and the signs for many of the fruit trees said: “Bears fruit in 2-3 years.” As we meditate upon and obey God’s word he makes us like himself.
WE WON’T WITHER
and its leaf does not wither. Psalm 1:3
Life is hard at times. We go through periods of scorching heat. Every believer will go through trials and tribulations. But if we have regularly taken in God’s word, we will persevere and endure.
WE WILL PROSPER
In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3
As we walk by faith, trusting God’s word, we will prosper spiritually. We may not be rich in this world, but we will be rich in Christ.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11.1
Walk by faith. Believe God’s word and obey it. Do not listen to the counsel of the wicked. Don’t listen to Satan’s lies. Delight in God’s word. Meditate on it. Do it. And you will bear fruit for Jesus, and persevere to the end.