SEVEN THINGS GOD CANNOT DO
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”
Psalm 115: 3
OMNIPOTENCE, WHICH is one of God’s attributes of being, is sometimes defined as the ability to do anything. We believe this definition is too broad, for the Scriptures teach that there are some things that God cannot do. For example, He cannot do anything contrary to His character. Nor can He unmake a past event, though He could prevent an event from happening, and even if He permitted it to happen, He could neutralize its effects. According to our text God can do anything that He desires to do, and His desires are always good. Let us now consider seven things that God cannot do:
God Cannot have an Equal
(1.) God cannot have an equal, as we read in Psalm 89: 6: “For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?” This passage indicates that no being is, or could be, equal to God. One attribute of God’s being is His supremacy, defined as God’s being incomparably superior to all others, and that all are, or ought to be, subject to Him. God is the only being in the universe that was not created. God could not create another God equal to Himself, for how could He create an Eternal Being?
Other Scriptures to the point include Isaiah 44: 6: “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me then there is no God.” 1 Corinthians 15: 28: “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” The last verse shows that even our Lord Jesus shall forever be subject unto the Father, that the Father will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 48: 11).
God’s Word Cannot Return unto Him Without it Accomplishing what He Wills
(2.) God cannot have His Word return to Him, without it accomplishing what He wills, as we read in Isaiah 55: 11: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” See also: (Isaiah 46: 10, 11).
God is addressing the world in Isaiah 55: 8, 9, stating that His plans for mankind’s salvation are not the same as the world’s, and that His ways for executing His plans are not the same as the world’s (v. 8). God’s plans and ways are not understood by the world – they are grander and more beneficent (v. 9). They are higher than what Jews and Christians have expected. Verse 10 explains symbolically how God’s plans and ways progress in a natural way. The “rain” and “snow” picture the Truth coming “from heaven” (from God). It “watereth the earth” (the Truth will quench the world’s spiritual thirst). It “maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater” (the world will grow in the Truth during the Millennial Age). Verse 11 is mostly literal and gives assurance to the Lord’s people. God’s “word” goes forth (God’s Truth as due goes forth in every dispensation and age) out of His “mouth” (the Lord Jesus). It does not return unto Him “void” (it will not fail), but will accomplish what He pleases (it will fulfill God’s pleasure) and it shall prosper whereto it was sent (it will triumph).
God Cannot be Given a Problem He Cannot Solve
(3.) God cannot be given a problem that He cannot solve. Jesus explained to His disciples that it would be harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (a small doorway in the city gate) (Matthew 19: 23-25). But He then said: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (v. 26). See also: (Jeremiah 32: 27). God is capable of solving any problem because He is infinite in wisdom and power. There are only two limitations: (1) they have to be possible (as stated above, God cannot create another God), and (2) it must be something He desires to do. This gives us comfort, knowing that there is no problem that is too hard for Him to solve for those who love Him, both now and in His coming Kingdom.
God Cannot Lie
(4.) God cannot lie. The Apostle explains this in Hebrews 6: 16-18, in particular verse 18: “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” See also: (2 Timothy 2: 13). Hebrews 6: 16-18 applies primarily to the Church, but applies secondarily to all of God’s consecrated people. The “two immutable things” are God’s Word and His Oath, the Abrahamic Covenant and the Oath-Bound Covenant. Both of them are unchangeable, because God has an absolutely righteous character, which makes it impossible for Him to lie. This gives us “strong consolation” (encouragement and confidence), “who have fled for refuge” (Christ is our Refuge). The “hope” set before the Church was to see, be with and be like her Lord, to overcome their enemies and to bless all the families of the earth. Our hope is for an earthly inheritance, to overcome our enemies and to help bless all the families of the earth.
God Cannot Tempt Anyone
(5.) God cannot tempt anyone. This is proven by James 1: 13: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” The first two occurrences of the word “tempted” and the word “tempteth” in this verse come from the Greek word pierazo, which primarily means to prove, test or try, and secondarily to persuade, allure, entice or to appealingly suggest to do evil. The third occurrence of the word “tempted” comes from the Greek word apeirastos, and it means not temptable and not to be tempted. Hence this passage teaches that God never tempts anyone to do evil, though He does permit trials to test and prove His people, so as to sift out the unfaithful. It also teaches that God cannot be tempted to do evil, for He has no inclination to evil (Deuteronomy 32: 4). Let us never be guilty of seeking to tempt Him! God does, however, tempt to do good (Philippians 2: 13). Our temptations to evil come from the world, the flesh and the Devil (James 1: 14).
God Cannot be Pleased Without Faith
(6.) God cannot be pleased without faith, as we read in Hebrews 11: 6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” The Apostle defines faith in Hebrews 11: 1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hence faith consists of mental appreciation and heart’s reliance upon God and Christ. One cannot come to God without faith, for it is essential for one to believe in His existence (“he that cometh to God must believe that he is”). Faith will lead on to repentance, justification and consecration (“he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”). But God never expects a blind faith, which is why He points to His Word, where we learn about His character, Plan and promises. After developing our faith upon His Word, we can then build the superstructure of character and works.
God Cannot Fail His People
(7.) God cannot fail His people, as shown in Deuteronomy 31: 6: “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Moses was here exhorting Israel toward the close of his life, for they were about to enter the promised land. May we apply this lesson to ourselves, for we are about to enter our promised land, God’s Kingdom. Please see: (Psalm 46) (Romans 8: 38, 39). Let us close with a beautiful passage: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49: 15, 16). May the above seven things that God cannot do enhance our appreciation of His person, character, Word and works!
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