Be it Unto Me: The Daily Defeat of Our Flesh and Carnality

by Joanna Pierce on December 21, 2017

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26–38, KJV).

Our Will

We are tasked daily with the decision to do two things: defend or defeat our will. When we read the Christmas story in Scripture, we see many people who offered themselves on the altar in an effort to obey or be used by God. It’s no surprise that the human will is very powerful; Scripture denotes this and shows how our will is in direct contrast to God’s (Psalms 16:9, 81:11–12).

We are charged to present ourselves a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). This poses difficulty for us because even though we’ve been called to live a life on the altar, we keep getting off and doing what we want. Paul noted there’s a constant struggle he—and we all—face in our lives: we have an inner desire to do what’s right, but our flesh works contrary to the Spirit (Romans 7:18–25).

Why We Struggle to Follow God’s Will

We Won’t Accept Who We Are

Who we believe ourselves to be has a huge impact on our behavior. We’re told in Scripture we’re a chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation, and a peculiar people (I Peter 2:9). These are identities, assignments, roles, and responsibilities we must follow in our life. They should impact our behavior and how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis. Scripture has told us we’re separate from the world—we’re not like everyone else.

It’s easier to accept God’s will when we accept who we are in Him. We cannot slip into our fleshly role when it’s convenient for us or when things get hard. The hard times in God are just as rewarding as any other time we walk with Him. The Holy Ghost has transformed us and made us a new creature. We must stop impersonating who we used to be.

We’re Too Shallow to Search Out the Hard Truth

Mary asked the angel, Gabriel, how all that was told to her would come to pass (Luke 1:24). She wasn’t afraid to ask God how, why, or what was going on. We fall short in asking God questions because we think it’s too much work. Finding God’s will for our lives isn’t easy, but will require spiritual effort. Mary also proved that questioning God in how He’s going to do something isn’t lacking faith, but showing interest in how He will perform His will in your life.

God will reward people who see Him (Hebrews 11:6; James 4:8). Mary received her answer when she asked and learned the that nothing would be impossible with God (Luke 1:37). God’s will in our lives will include the impossible, and we must not put any restraint or boundary on Him. It’s much easier to follow God’s will when we dive deeper in our walk with God. We need to pray more and seek God to find out His plan for our life.

We Don’t Believe God’s Will is Best

Every time we give into our flesh, we decide something else is better than God’s will. What’s right doesn’t always seem or feel the best—it can be the hardest thing, seem like the poorest choice, or feel awful. Mary may not have thought becoming pregnant out of wedlock was the “best way,” but she knew she had to follow God’s will. She determined in her heart that God’s truth and will is always best.

We must believe that God’s will is best. It’s much easier to accept God’s will when we feel it comes in the form of a blessing, but harder when it shapes, disregards, harms our reputation, or stops us dead in our tracks. Mary knew her will was far less valuable than God’s and His results would be better (Luke 1:32–33).

Learn to Follow God’s Will

We cannot be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Learning to follow God’s will isn’t going to come naturally to us, but we must continue to try and test this out in our life. We must practice to learn how to follow God’s will.

Paul encouraged the church to do as he did: to die out to flesh daily (I Corinthians 15:31). This is the only way to decrease our flesh so God can increase in our life. Mary did this in her life by offering abandonment, availability, and allegiance to God. She threw away her own will, positioned herself to be in alignment to God’s will, and finally, made a commitment to carry out the plan of God. We must do the same if we will be successful in defeating our flesh and carnality.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on December 20, 2017 with Pastor Nave