Recently, a friend posted a question challenging certain absolute claims that people sometimes make about what they consider themselves capable and incapable of. In essence, she considered it quite unlikely that one could truly be certain of what they have the potential to do, except they have been in the position to make that call at least once. I.e. ‘Good people’ can very well do all the things that ‘bad people’ do, thus any convictions that more or less convince us that our propensities to engage in the despicable are limited, may very well be categorized under wishful thinking.
Let me first put the personal conviction of what defines my capabilities and in-capabilities within the context of scripture:
Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Without Christ there are still things I could do – or try to at least. I could be moral, I could be nice, I could conform, be helpful, obedient, generous, patient and polite. But (and a great ‘but’ it is indeed) there’s only so far I could go without Jesus so when I make attempts outside of Him, I’m functioning under the limitations that the lost man functions under. Because of pride, because of deceit. because of the selfishness…
Because of sin.
As is commonly reiterated, the flesh is indeed weak. But what gets under-mentioned way too often is that the weakness of that weak ol’ flesh has been defeated and denied power over the children of God who have been saved by the blood of Jesus. So that our very strong savior quickens our mortal flesh and causes us to live above the weakness that we were once accustomed to and enables us do all the things that may once have been impossible to do.
NO LONGER A SLAVE
The dynamics change once a person switches kingdoms; darkness to light, death to life. The key and principal thing is – understanding.
So back to the question in paraphrase: “How do we know for certain that we won’t do certain things and how can we claim to be so sure if we haven’t been in the position to (do it) at least once?
I will speak for myself – I can confidently make a claim to be capable or incapable of certain things, because of Jesus. The One whose sacrifice makes it possible for me to be just like Him. The One who is alive and active in me, working out every good work in me, whose Spirit resides on the inside of me to lead me onto every good path and teach me all truth. Yeah, Him. Nothing is too hard for Him.
Romans 6:6 -: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
Galatians 2:20 -: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
It’s not about me, you see. Of course, I determine what I will to do (and ultimately do eventually) in any given situation. But if I claim to submit my will to His, then what I CAN do is all on Him. I’m no longer a slave to sin. I.e. I’m no longer hindered from living a life utterly pleasing to my God by the things that once came naturally to me. My life stops being mine once I hand in the reins to the person who paid for it with His own life. However, He can only do ‘so much’ in me, through me and for me, when I give Him restricted access. I have to want Him completely– to change my life, to fix my thinking, to flip my perspective, to season my speech – to change everything! I have to move from being stuck within the ultra limited purview of the carnal mind to the endless expanse of the renewed one (Romans 8:6). Once I yield (and stay yielded), the hindrance that will successfully keep His will from being actualized in my life is yet to be born.
So since God is all knowing and all capable, and if I’m simply a vessel being used of Him, then where exactly do my limits – as pertains to whatever is right, true and just – find room to begin? (Wait for it…)
Except in doubt.
FAITH IS REALITY
Matthew 21:21 -: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done.”
Hebrews 11:1 -: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
1 Corinthians 15:17 -: “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain; ye are yet in your sins.”
Before I say something, I have to first believe that it is true. For instance, if I tell my child to open up to me and promise not to lose my temper no matter the gravity of her offence, I should have first examined myself to confirm that I am equipped to handle the worst possible thing I can imagine…and even worse than that! If I keep my word, it strengthens my daughter’s faith in me. God’s record is faultless so if I have faith in Him, then I must have faith in His promises as well. If I do, that will prompt me to make bold declarations based on the promises He has made to me. To anyone it might seem like a load of hot air but in actuality, I’m exercising my utter surrender and trust in my God and maker! If I can’t say what He says about me because I’m convinced it is 100% accurate, then I doubt Him. If I doubt Him, then I can doubt everything He has ever said and that will be the death of our relationship.
Everything falls and rises on faith.
So maintaining trusting faith in Jesus is too important because when I doubt I’m saying I think He’s stopped being 100% true and faithful. I’m saying I think He just might pull a fast one on me when I’m not looking. I’m saying I think he’ll take advantage of my trust and dependence on Him and dupe me right before yelling “SUCKER!” in my face and laughing manically as He skips away, leaving me in despair and brokenness. But that’s not Jesus and that will NEVER be Him. He never failed before and He’s not one to break stuff– whether ‘stuff’ represents track records, promises, hearts or covenants. He is the One who holds things up and together for the good of His beloved but once we doubt, we’ll be judging the true and living God to be as mere man.
But tell me, is He a man that He should lie?
Faith calls those things that be not as though they were. So if I tell a friend: “I don’t lie.” There is a lot in that statement that isn’t necessarily voiced but it mustn’t be taken to mean I, Kwiksie, have in my power and by my wit, found a way to glide through life without ever encountering a circumstance that’ll doubtlessly raise the urge to be untruthful. It doesn’t even mean that I haven’t told any lies before nor does it imply that the deed will never again be done. “I don’t lie./ I am not one to lie./ I will not lie to you.” means simply that it is no longer my nature to lie (as opposed to the me prior salvation) and that is the truth. I’ve changed camps, put on the new man, been adopted into a new family – the family of God. If I do things that contradict this new identity, then I’m acting weird – I would be towing a line that is antonymous of my new nature and, knowing how easily deceit comes to all fallen flesh, it takes a very firm trust in the transforming power of God to echo Him and what He says about me. But naturally, the masses are not obligated to buy it:
“Do you honestly expect us to believe that a human being – fickle, twisted and imperfect like the rest of us – will successfully tell the truth in every circumstance? You haven’t even been in certain circumstances where lying is pretty much the ONLY OPTION YOU HAVE LEFT, so though you might want to think you know yourself and be pretty confident about your limits – fact remains that you just don’t know.”
Well to be clear, I don’t expect this to be understood logically – because it isn’t logical nor is it about logic, to the best of my understanding. Secondly, the mistake most often make is in assuming we are all the same. We aren’t. Being in Christ makes all the difference (and what an unfathomable, unexplainable difference indeed)! And i am personally convinced that all we allowe ourselves to consider as options in our minds will present themselves as options when certain situations arise. The battle is, primarily, of the mind. If you refuse to ever make it an option, it will hardly likely become one.
Yet in spite of all of that, it still isn’t about knowing myself and abilities because those are as useless as useless gets in the face of the pull of the flesh and the temptations and machinations of the enemy. Oh no, this isn’t confidence in will power and morality. It’s confidence in the King of kings…
Because knowing Him is really all you need to know about overcoming.