"Character and Capability"
A good friend responded to yesterday's message with the comment that it can be unsettling to think that God cannot do some things. His point was well taken. We all rightly think of God in terms of almighty ability, even as the Lord Jesus Christ affirmed, "With God, all things are possible" (Matthew 19;26). However, Scripture also speaks of impossibility regarding our Lord's capacities, a reality about Him that may indeed throw us off balance a bit upon first consideration. However, careful contemplation in the light of Scripture actually presents to us assurance no less blessed than the infinite nature of His power.
"God cannot lie… It was impossible for God to lie… God cannot be tempted with evil" (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18; James 1:13).
The assurance lies in the absolute certitude of our Lord's faithful integrity. "He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He" (Deuteronomy 32:4). Someone exists so pristinely pure of heart, mind, and character that He cannot be other than who and what He is. Thus, Someone exists whom we can "trust… with all thine heart" (Proverbs 3:5). This would not be the case were it not "impossible for God to lie." Thus, our Lord's "cannot" fosters as much confidence as His "can."
If God could lie, how could we ever be sure that at some point in eternal history He might not actually do so? One could respond that His righteousness would prevent such an occurrence. However, this simply leads us back to God's intrinsic nature that ensures He cannot lie. An example might aid our understanding. Imagine a father who loves his small daughter with all his heart. The mother died in childbirth, and the little girl is all he has left of his wife and family. He dotes on the daughter, providing for her sustenance and safety as best as his meager income allows. He also seeks to make her happy with things she likes, although he cannot afford much. One day the little girl approaches her father and asks him for the doll they saw while passing a toy store during a visit to the local town. He had noticed her looking intently at the doll and hoped he might be able to return to the store and purchase it as a surprise gift. The price tag, however, dashed his hopes. Made of porcelain and clothed in silk, the doll far exceeded the man's budget. As much as he hated to disappoint his daughter, he knew that he had to answer honestly. "Sweetheart," he said, "I'd love to buy the doll for you. But I just can't afford it."
The little girl was broken hearted. She began to cry, but then looked up at her dad and said, shockingly, "But Daddy, I want that doll with all my heart! Why can't you just go to the store and take it when nobody's looking!" You can imagine how the story proceeds from here. Most importantly, the truth shines forth that regardless of how much we may love someone, we cannot violate our integrity in order to make them happy. Be sure that in this story, the father acted accordingly (and also had a thorough discussion with his daughter about honesty!).
You see the point. A vital characteristic of God's loving nature involves perfect devotion to His integrity, character, and disposition. God must be who He is and act accordingly. This is the very essence of holiness whereby our Lord is sanctified to Himself and His nature. As 1 Corinthians 13 teaches us regarding ourselves, character always precedes and guides capability. If we could remove mountains, Paul teaches, but did not have love, we would be nothing. The same is true in God. In fact, the light of 1 Corinthians 13 shines forth from the very being of our Lord Himself. Everything God has ever thought, spoken, or done accords with the perfection of His holy being. Everything He ever will do flows accordingly. He exists as something eternally glorious and wondrous because He is who He is and cannot be otherwise. "The Lord is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works" (Psalm 145:17).
The implications of this truth are vast, eternally vast. I think the subject of character governing capability should comprise a primary subject for every pastor, seminary professor, Sunday school teacher, author, and Christian communicator. I seek to include it either directly or tacitly in every one of these devotionals. God is who He is. Thus, He can do all things that correlate with His nature and being. He can do nothing that fails to meet the test of such holy perfection. Thus, when thinking Biblically of God, "He can" and "He cannot" both form our proper doctrinal understanding. This is peace. This is security. We are related to Someone whose character directs His capability. Our Lord will forever act in accordance with the perfection of His being. He will not do otherwise, and praise His holy name, He cannot.
"As for God, His way is perfect."
(II Samuel 22:31)
Weekly Memory Verse
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God."
(I John 4:7)