FAITH OVERCOMING THE WILL OF THE FLESH
In Acts 17:11 we have statement regarding the Bereans and their approach to the Holy Scripture. And not just the Holy Word, but the insistence of checking things out for themselves. Acts 17:11 – “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Received – to accept, to take hold of, to learn
Readiness of mind – a willing mind, where there is that zeal, eagerness, spirit
Searched – to investigate, examine, enquire into, scrutinize, sift, question, interrogate, judge, determine
This was their approach toward the Holy Scripture. It started with a mindset that led to action. They were considered “noble”, and if we desire to be “noble” before the Lord in our approach toward that which has been written, then we will need to develop the same mindset and action as the Bereans.
This is especially true in our study of faith. We must be mindful of two important scriptures and the significance of what they teach.
2 Tim 3:16 – “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
2 Peter 1:20-21 – “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
All scripture comes from God. Though He used human writers, WHAT THEY PENNED WAS THROUGH THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!
With this truth firmly before us, we must understand that the choice of the Old Testament characters listed in this great cloud of witnesses were chosen, not by the Hebrew writer, but were chosen by the Holy Spirit. And the specific display of faith was also a choice of the Holy Spirit. We may have chosen different characters and different displays of faith. But by searching, investigating, examining, enquiring into, scrutinizing, sifting, questioning, interrogating, judging, and determining what WAS said, then we come away with ascertaining, just a little, of the mind of God. This MUST be our approach in our study of FAITH.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
From Isaac we will learn of Faith Overcoming The Will Of The Flesh.
From Jacob we will learn of Faith Overcoming The Will Of Man.
Faith Overcoming The Will Of The Flesh
Heb. 11:20 – “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”
Gen. 25:19 – begins the story of Isaac
Gen 25:21-23 – “And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”
Rom 9:10-13 – “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”
God had made His choice and had communicated His choice to Rebekah. It stands to reason, that for Isaac to operate by faith, he became fully aware of the choice of God.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
If there is no word of God, then there can be no faith.
Will of the flesh in Isaac.
Gen. 25:28 – “And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.”
Esau sells his birthright to Jacob – Gen. 25:29-34
Gen. 27:1-5 Isaac knows his death is near. It is time to give the blessing.
Deception by Rebekah and Jacob
Dressed up with skins to imitate Esau
Smelled like Esau but sounded like Jacob
Isaac uses 4 of his 5 senses to ascertain whether this was truly Esau. (sight gone)
Touch – 27:21
Hearing – 27:22
Taste – 27:25
Smell – 27:26, 27
Using your 5 senses alone does not lead to faith.
Isaac gives his blessing to Jacob – Gen. 27:28-29
Esau comes and realizes what had happened and begs for a blessing.
Esau wants Isaac to change his mind
Heb 12:16-17 – “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”
Isaac gives Esau a blessing – Gen. 27:38-40
Heb. 11:20 – “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”
After all of the deception and being deceived, Isaac overcame the will of the flesh and “by faith” blessed Jacob with the blessing given to his father Abraham.
Faith Overcoming The Will Of Man
Heb. 11:21 – “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.”
To understand this passage we must first begin with the relationship that existed between Jacob and Joseph.
Began with the great love Jacob had for Rachel, Joseph’s mother.
Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel, but he loved Rachel more than Leah.
Rachel was barren, so she gave her handmaid Bilhah to raise children by her.
Leah also gave her handmaid Zilpah to raise children by her.
Between the four, Jacob had 12 sons and 1 daughter.
But of all his sons, Joseph was Jacob’s favorite.
Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors, signifying his great love.
Jealousy arose and Joseph was sold into Egypt.
Jacob was told that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast, his blood stained coat returned to Jacob.
To Jacob, the son he loved most, was now dead.
Years later he would realize that his son, who he thought was lost was now found; who he thought was dead was now alive.
This special relationship revived.
As Jacob was dying, he would bless the two sons of Joseph, Genesis 48, and then he would bless all his sons in Genesis 49. But it is what is said regarding the blessing of Joseph’s sons that the Holy Spirit attributes to Jacob’s demonstration of faith.
Gen. 48:1-5; 8-20
Joseph’s will was that Manasseh would be blessed over Ephraim – the will of man.
But “faith overcame the will of man” and Jacob blessed Ephraim over Manasseh.
The Will of Man
There are people in each of our lives who want to exert great influence over us. Some of the influence is good, mostly coming from God’s own people. But there is that negative, defeatist, tempting influence, that if heeded, it will lead you astray.
These can be:
Family members who does not accept or respect your decision to follow the Lord.
Your “running buddies” who will tell you that you can’t leave us or “you must think you are too good for us now.”
The pull is strong, many times just due to the sheer number of years in that relationship.
Repentance = change of mind, action, and relationship
The command is to “come ye out from among them and be ye separate.”
But it takes FAITH to overcome the will of man.
The Will Of The Flesh
Do we desire to have this faith which overcomes “the will of the flesh” which dwells within us; whose workings make it painfully obvious in our inward conflict with the “carnal mind”?
Do we desire victory over the flesh working within us; the profanity and sin and treachery working all around us?
Then the victory can only come “by faith,” by believing God in what He has said.
“This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” – 1Jn. 5:4
Rom 7:23-25 – “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Drinking – drugs – sleeping around – stealing – wanting to pass a test so bad that you cheat – cursing – partying – and other such vices. But the will of the flesh can be more subtle than this.
Not coming to Sunday School – inconsistent in attendance to worship – non or sporadic attendance to Sunday Night worship – non attendance to Wed. night. But the will of the flesh is still more subtle than this.
When we speak of liking this or that in the things of God: of preferring this or that in the worship of God; that is the working of “the will of the flesh.”
It is not to be what we like, or what we prefer. The tastes of nature are no guide in spiritual things. They will most certainly lead us astray if they are followed and obeyed.
“Not only in worship, but in every department of Christian service “the will of the flesh” is seen in active operation.
We undertake certain works, because we like them!
We join in certain efforts because they are in line with our tastes!
We adopt certain methods in our service, or choose certain spheres of service, not because of the will of God in the matter, but because we are deceived by the working of the will of the flesh, and we follow our own natural desires & tastes.
By Faith” we shall overcome the working of “the will of the flesh” in the worship of God.