Where there is no vision, the people perish. [Proverbs 29:18]
When we hear someone quote 2 Corinthians 5:7: We walk by faith and not by sight do we truly understand the great significance of this simple verse? Walking by faith requires an understanding of what it means to walk, and also a greater understanding of what faith is. Romans 1:17 says: The just shall live by faith. Therefore we can reason that walking by faith is the same as living by faith.
Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Since faith infers the belief in something that cannot be seen in the natural (with our natural eyes), we can conclude that in order to have faith, we must be able to see in the supernatural, i.e. spiritual vision. Once we grab hold of the importance of spiritual vision, we can move toward making our faith more of a reality than what we see in the natural. And when we get to this point, we are truly walking by faith, and not by sight. Then, as they did Jesus, signs and wonders will follow you.
A Man of Faith
I think everyone would agree that Jesus was a man of faith. He demonstrated His faith by the miracles and teachings He did. In addition to having faith, Jesus also used spiritual vision in His ministry: Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you. The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do. For what things soever he does, these also the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that [he] himself does. And he will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. [John 5:19-20]
Jesus is the example of living and walking completely in the Spirit. Every word He spoke and every miracle He performed was done according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gave Jesus spiritual vision that not only led Him to different places and specific people, but the vision of these miracles coming to pass. The fact that the Father showed Jesus all things proves that He visualized these things coming to pass.
Let me give you an example: A painter doesn't begin to paint unless he has a vision of what he wants to paint. The image must be first conceived in his mind before he picks up a brush. Even an abstract painter has to conceive an idea of his completed work in order to decide which color or brush stroke to use. Likewise, this occurs with anyone creative such as a sculptor or a builder. Anything created must have first been imagined or visualized before being created. God is the consummate Creator and even He had to see the creation coming into existence before He was actually able to make it come to pass. In the first chapter of Genesis, God created the heavens and earth. But before He created, a thought was conceived and later His spoken word caused the initial thought to manifest. Then, God was able to actually see that it was good (Genesis 1:10).
As the painter sees or visualizes his completed work before he begins painting, we too must see things coming to pass before they actually do. However, as God applied it to creation, Jesus applied this vision to His work on earthand we should do the same. Jesus speaks of faith as it relates to spiritual vision in Mark 11:22: And Jesus answering said unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be removed and be cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he said shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he said. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.
Seeing is Believing
How do we believe we have received something we haven't actually received in the natural? We see it in the spirit. How do we see in the spirit? It comes as revelation from God through His word and manifested in dreams, thoughts or visions. Our faith is manifested in seeing (believing) something has come into existence though it exists initially in the invisible spirit realm; and faith actually releases what is true in the spirit into the natural realm. Not all dreams, thoughts or visions are revelations from God, but could be products of our own imaginations or external temptations from Satan. Knowing what is from God and what is not depends on how well you have renewed your mind to God's word, and how sensitive you are to the Spirit. Before being born again, our minds focused on things of the flesh--the physical senses. By the renewing of your mind, the Christian should strive to be spiritually minded in all things.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [Romans 8:6]
I'm not talking about vain imaginations of visualizing millions of dollars, cars, or mansions. Although it is God's will for His children to be prosperous, our faith must line up with God's word. This is an important point to stress: We must align our lives and faith in God's word and come into agreement with Him in order for these things to come to pass. Jesus was referring to spiritual sight and hearing when He spoke to His disciples of the mysteries of the kingdom [Matthew 13:11-17]. In verse 16, Jesus said: But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears for they hear.
As the Lord led me to share these truths, He led me to describe how He used spiritual vision to heal a blind man. We read in Mark 8:22 where Jesus came into the city of Bethsaida. They had brought a blind man to Him for healing. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw [anything] ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up. And he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
The fact that Jesus had to lay hands on the man twice wasn't an indication that Jesus was having an off day. It was an example of how Jesus was stirring up this man's faith by asking him if he saw anything. For a blind man to see, he must visualize himself seeing. His descriptions of men walking as trees more accurately represents a vision as opposed to the failure for Christ to completely heal him with one touch. We are healed according to our faith, and Jesus knew He had to quicken this man's faith by asking him to visualize seeing before actually seeing. This may seem complicated, but it is important to understand that spiritual vision is the same as faith.
Spiritual vision doesn't only manifest as an image in your mind. Rather, it burns in your heart and causes you to step out or sometimes press toward the object of your faith. Take the woman with the issue of blood. Her faith was defined in the fact that she believed that if she but touched His garment, she would be whole. She hadn't even witnessed Jesus perform any miracle--she had only heard of him. However, because of hearing (faith comes by hearing) about Jesus, she saw herself healed before it actually happened, and this vision was what drove her to touch Jesus. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she had said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. [Mark 5:25-29]
On many other occasions, Jesus asked what the person wanted Him to do. Once we see ourselves walking in any of God's promises (healing, freedom, prosperity, joy, power, etc.), this faith will open up the windows of heaven for the Lord's power to come. I've heard someone say, "I just can't see myself casting out devils or laying hands on the sick." Since this person can't see (in his mind) himself doing the works of God, then he never will. Ask yourself this question: Can I see myself lining up with the promises in the word of God?
When Jesus and the disciples faced feeding 5000 men with five loaves and two fishes, the Lord wasn't seeing in the natural when He commanded them to feed the multitude. And when he had taken five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes he divided among them all. [Mark 6:41] He didn't even limit this miracle provision to them only eating and being filled. Rather, they took up twelve baskets full of leftovers (v. 42-43). This miracle didn't occur as a result of Christ's faith alone--the disciples' faith in carrying out this miracle played a great role in its coming to pass. And this is a lesson for all of us when doing the works of God. The Lord takes what is available (the five loaves in this case) and sees the miracle in the spirit, then passes His word for distribution or operation. He gave the loaves to His disciples to show them that they, by faith, would also operate in the same miracle-working power as He. If we make ourselves available, He'll use us to perform miracles as well.
Vision is Revelation
So that we don't get confused about exactly what vision is, let me explain it further. Spiritual vision is another term for divine revelation. It can manifest in an actual visual image in the mind (visions, dreams) or as I discussed previously, it can come directly into your heart from the word of God. The book of Revelation is a vision that was given to the apostle John. However, consider the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said to one another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? [Luke 24:30-32]
Revelation from God will always be accompanied by a quickening of your spirit. A word of warning however: Any vision or revelation must always line up with Scripture. We see in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 concerning spiritual things: But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.
Walking by Faith
Now that we know what spiritual vision is and how it applies to faith, how can we apply it to doing the works of God and to our own lives? First of all, as Jesus came not to be ministered to, but to minister [Matthew 20:28], we should place our primary focus on doing the works of God. I live by the assumption that if I take care of God's business, He'll take care of mine. However, we all have needs in our lives and our prayers serve to petition these needs to God instead of trying to do them ourselves. I'll give you two examples of how faith and spiritual vision brought forth blessings in my life.
In July 2003, I put my house up for sale. After making an agreement with a realtor to list the house, I began to pray for God to provide a buyer. In the neighborhood were probably more than a dozen houses for saleand had been before I decided to sell. During the next month or so, I lifted up my prayers for God to send a buyer, hoping He would come through. Although several people had come to view the house, no one made an offer and I began to wonder how long it was going to take. My financial situation was not good and I really needed for the house to sell. One morning, I was in prayer and again, I asked God to send a buyer for the house. Before I could get another word out, the Lord spoke in a soft but firm way: "Why do you keep asking me for this? You need to believe you have already received this so I it can be done." I thought a minute and He reminded me of Mark 11:24 that says, Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you recieve them, and you shall have them. This revelation burned in my heart--so much that I declared my house sold and thanked Him for it. A few minutes later, I confessed, "That house is sold! They need to put SOLD on the sign in the front yard!" From there faith had kicked in. It had taken a revelation from God on the secret to answered prayer to stimulate my faith. At six o'clock the very same evening, the realtor called with an offer to buy--and for the full sale price of the house!
On another occasion, I was lying in bed early in the morning. I remember dosing off and on. During a dosing moment, I had a vision. I saw an elderly black woman walking with a cane. I couldn't tell where she was, but I saw ropes connected to poles similar to what you'd see at the post office or bank. That was the extent of the vision, but the Lord spoke softly to me. "When you see her, I want you to lay hands on her and she will be healed." I was excited and honestly a little nervous. The Lord before had tried to lead me to help someone, but I failed in fear of looking foolish and doubt. This time, I promised not to let Him down.
When I got up, I had to run an errand, but this errand wouldn't take me to the post office (I had decided in my mind that it was the post office), but I told the Lord while driving that I would go if He wanted me to. My errand took me first to the offices of a bank. I didn't enter the bank itself; instead I went to the elevators just inside the door, did my business and came back down. Part of this errand was collecting a check for a sideline business and I wanted to cash it. So, I went inside the bank and to the teller where I saw the ropes connected to metal poles. My pulse began to quicken and I began looking around. Not a second later, an elderly black woman walking with a cane entered the bank. I was incredibly excited and also very nervous. What made matters worse was that a few seconds later, a second elderly black woman entered the bank and she too was walking with a cane, but this woman was being helped by a younger woman.
After getting the check cashed, I walked out of the bank, deciding to wait until the woman came out. While waiting, I prayed for the Lord to tell me which one He wanted me to approach. As I prayed, the first woman came through the doors and I believe the Lord said, "No." So, I waited. A minute later, the second woman came out, being assisted by the younger one. I believed she was the one because she was having a more difficult time walking. I took a deep breath and approached her. Sadly, the woman refused to let me pray for her. I don't know if I had it wrong or if she simply refused to receive her healing, but regardless of the outcome, this vision had come to pass. I felt so blessed to have been used for His purposes and also because I had responded to the call. This is the way we need to live our lives, knowing that God has a much greater purpose than we do.
Walking in the Spirit
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [Romans 8:14]
Often we get so overwhelmed with our own lives that we miss it when God calls us to minister to someone. Jesus said in John 6:44: No man can come to me except the Father which has sent me draw him. Knowing this, one can assume that God is working to place people in your life in order for you to be a witness for Him. But you have to be sensitive to His leading so that you don't miss the opportunity. Living in the Spirit is something you have to practice and exercise. Just as you exercise your faith, you have to exercise being sensitive to His leading. Anyone who has ever responded to the Holy Spirit's urgings knows that he's not very pushy. Unfortunately (and fortunately) the Spirit of God is a gentleman and it takes a special sensitivity to His leading to correctly respond. Thank God for His grace as He teaches us to do the works of God.
It's significant also for you to understand that holiness is of utmost importance. The first reason why holiness is important is because, as a Christian, it is now your nature to live a holy life (Romans 6:1-14). Secondly, sin opens the door to condemnation from your own conscience and the devil, which will hinder your confidence in God's willingness to use you. Although God has never had anyone qualified in themselves to be used by Him, and consequently, sin doesn't affect God; but rather, a life of sin comes against your confidence in God's power being released on your behalf or on the behalf of another person. A word of warning, holiness is a "fruit" of relationship with God through Jesus, and is produced only through a revelation of God's grace as it is written, For sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law but under grace. [Romans 6:14]
Before you go to work, school, or any time you leave the house, seek the Lord to use you to glorify Him--to be a blessing for Him. During the day, consider what the Lord would have you do. At lunch, do you notice someone in the line and get the feeling that they're hurting? Anyone with eyes can see there are a lot of people hurting and they need Christ. Since we are His ambassadors, it's up to us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's urgings, and also willing to respond to the call--even when it is inconvenient. The notion that this person is hurting isn't something that you have manifested; it's the Holy Spirit asking you to be Jesus to them. When Jesus ministered to the Samarian woman at the well, He gave us the example we should follow. The woman had just left Jesus and His disciples, whom had been away buying food, returned and were urging Him to eat. Jesus refused knowing He had people to minister to (the woman would soon return with many people). Jesus said unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. [John 4:34] If you continue reading the passage, the Lord teaches us to take advantage of all opportunities to minister the gospel and you will have great rewards. Try it this way: as you're walking into the grocery store say, "Okay, Lord, I'm here to get some milk, but what is Your reason for me to be here?"
A man walking in the Spirit doesn't need to hunt for lost souls like a lion hunts for prey. He simply needs to be sensitive to the Spirit's leading. Remember, the Spirit of God will draw men to the Christ in you (John 6:44). Go about your normal business, but be aware that the Spirit is working. It may be a cashier or a customer. It may be the homeless man outside begging for money. It may be the mother of three trying to juggle a newborn and grocery bags at the same time. Or, there could be no one. Anyone who has done any evangelism knows that when a person isn't ready to hear the gospel, they will not hear it. The Holy Spirit knows who's ready or hurting and needs a revelation of God's love. And while I'm here, let me point out that sometimes, the Spirit just wants you to demonstrate the love of God to someone instead of giving them the gospel. In the same passage in John 4, Jesus said that we sometimes reap the fruits of someone else's labors. Every day we give glory to the Lord Jesus and live our lives in a way that bears witness of His resurrection, we plant seeds--even when we don't know it. Being Jesus to someone isn't always preaching about being saved, although you want to eventually get them there. This may not be your calling that day, but it may be the next. This is why it's so important to stay sensitive to the Spirit--even after you've been led to someone. He will give you what you should say, and oftentimes, because the person's spirit will sense the Spirit in you, they will automatically open up. Has a stranger ever just started talking to you, revealing personal things about themselves? This is no accident for the person walking in the Spirit. It's a divine appointment.
This is not rocket science. It's simply doing what Christ commanded us to do: Deny yourself and pick up your cross and follow Him. If we continue to be burdened by our own circumstances, we will not be sensitive to the Spirit. This is why it is so important to live a victorious life, unencumbered with burdens, sickness, or fears. We can't be Christ to someone if we only have one person on our minds--US!
No "What Ifs"
So now you're sensitive to the Spirit's calling and are ready to go out and do the works of God. We have to remember that doing the works of God requires faith or a vision. In order for you to be Christ to someone, you have to let Christ be Christ and step out in faith. Any doubt or fear on your part will hinder the Lord's work. The phrase "What if?" shouldn't be a part of the Christian's vocabulary. If the Holy Spirit leads you to pray and lay hands on someone, the question "What if it doesn't work?" should be cast down immediately. "What if" is doubt, and doubt is unbelief, and unbelief surely isn't faith. The truth of who you are in Christ being seared into your heart is vital in doing the works of God. It will take practice, but we must condition ourselves to cast down any doubts (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) as to the power that is within you. With much practice and learning (this includes fasting, prayer, and renewing your mind), you will soon develop your faith walk in Christ. Instead of battling with doubt, use the revelation or vision God gave you to strengthen you. Reflect on the vision--see the person come out of the wheelchair with tears rolling down his face if this is what He's given you.
Freely You Have Received
Another point I want to make about doing the works of God is that you cannot give away something you have never received. If you have never received revelation concerning the power of God that resides in you; and that not only is God able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20) but that He has already ordained His disciples to do the works of Christ and continue the ministry of Jesus while He was here on this earth. While most Christians never question God's ability to release His power, they stand in doubt of God's willingness to move on their behalf. The truth is that God has already given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and that Jesus has empowered His disciples to continue His work on earth as it is written, Truly, truly I say unto you, That whosoever believes in me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. [John 14:12]
Therefore, I recommend getting a revelation of the power within you--the power that has been given to you freely by the grace of God. Then, after making this revelation your own, freely give as Jesus said, And as you go, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. Freely you have received, freely give. [Matthew 10:7-8] I have another teaching entitled "Freely You Have Received, Freely Give."
Walking in Grace
The Lord did not want me to address the possibilities of failure because He doesn't fail and we shouldn't consider it. Considering failure is doubt. However, the Christian life isn't about being victorious every day and in each instance. We'll make mistakes where we miss the calling or say too much, or too little, or the wrong thing. However, if this happens, we know He has given us the grace to keep going. If we mess up, Jesus always has someone else waiting to fill the gap. He loves us regardless and will continue to use us as long as we're usable and willing. We can't get down on ourselves and fall into condemnation from the devil. The devil wants to rob you of your faith because it is the only thing that keeps you saved and from being Christ to others by demonstrating His power and love. Don't be afraid to demonstrate your faith. Peter never would have walked on water if he had been too afraid to step off the boat. We'll talk about fear later, but fear is the opposite of faith and it will paralyze you. Of all of Christ's commands, He said "Fear not" or "Be not afraid" the most. When the devil tries to lay fear and doubt on you, remember this verse: What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? [Romans 8:31]
Most of all, if we don't do anything else, we at least demonstrate the love He has for His children. The Christian life is about Jesus and living for Him, loving Him so much that you want to be Him to the entire world. This is my spiritual vision as I pray it will be yours--to walk as Jesus walked. Have the vision to do as He commands us: And as you go, preach saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. Freely you have received, freely give. [Matthew 10:7-8]