God Can’t?

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Contemplating the powerful ability of God is a comforting practice in the life of the Christian.  It’s hard to comprehend, let alone articulate, the mind-blowing peace of God which guards us as we redirect our attention from our circumstances to the One who is sovereign over them (Philippians 4:6-7).

Pause for a moment and consider what our God is able to do.

He redeems and restores.  He forgives and cleanses.  He heals and revives.  He protects and provides.  He sees and cares.

Fresh confidence pulses through my veins as I type the words.  Imagine how the trajectories of our lives might change if those truths worked their way down into the deepest places of our hearts.

And yet, for all the value there is in rehearsing what God can do, I’ve found similar comfort in reminding myself of what He can’t do.  If reading that sentence made you uncomfortable, you’re in good company.  Although it feels strange to use “God” and “impossible” in the same sentence – other than to affirm the impossibility of something being impossible for Him – the Bible states explicitly that there are a few things God just can’t do.

For example, Timothy says, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).  Hebrews tells us that “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).  Both authors emphasize the trustworthy character of God that cannot, will not, be compromised.  James contributes to the topic when he states, “God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).  These three examples, like the rest of the Bible, teach us to conclude that God always acts consistently with His character.

Luke points out a divine impossibility of a different flavor when he writes, “God raised [Jesus] up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24).  Little did the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers know, their attempt to do away with Jesus would prove unsuccessful.  Jesus died, but three days later He rose from the dead.  Why?  To prove the efficacy of His sacrifice on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:17).  To attack and ultimately defeat death by rising from the dead, a guarantee of the future resurrection of all who belong to Him (1 Corinthians 15:20-26).  And also, most simply, Jesus rose from the dead because it was impossible for Him to stay dead.  The resurrection was the necessary counterpart of the crucifixion.

It’s difficult to overstate the sanity-securing assurance that comes on the heels of remembering and trusting all God can do.  As crazy as it may sound, that same level of assurance is ours when the consistency of His character convinces us of what He can’t do.

In this case, improper grammar conveys the point powerfully.  God can’t not be faithful.  God can’t not be trustworthy.  God can’t not be true to His character.  God can’t not be true to His Word.  And God can’t not be victorious, even over the most foreboding of enemies.

Armed with God’s Word to instruct us and His Spirit inside us, we meet the circumstances of today with confident relief due to His eternally reliable nature.  Today, He will be true to His character and faithful to His promises.  It’s not possible for Him to do otherwise.

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