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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Attributes of God That Belong to Him Alone

Don Stewart :: If God Is All-Powerful, Then Does It Mean He Can Do Anything?

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If God Is All-Powerful, Then Does It Mean He Can Do Anything? Are There Any Limits to What God Can Do?

The Attributes of God That Belong to Him Alone – Question 13

The Bible clearly teaches that the God of Scripture is all-powerful. He is indeed the “mighty God.” But does this mean God can do anything? Can God destroy Himself? Can He make a being that He cannot control? Can God make two plus two equal five?

No, God cannot do what is logically or actually impossible. He cannot contradict His nature, or character. That is not within the realm of His power.

The Bible actually speaks of a number of things that God cannot do. We can summarize them as follows.

1. God Cannot Lie

There are limits to what God can do. For example, the Bible says that God cannot lie. Paul wrote the following to Titus.

...in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began... (Titus 1:2 NKJV)

God is not capable of lying. It is not possible for Him to do so.

The writer to the Hebrews said something similar. He put it very plainly!

God cannot tell lies! And so his promises and vows are two things that can never be changed. (Hebrews 6:18a CEV)

Lying is not even possible with God. He always tells the truth.

2. God Cannot Be Tempted to Sin

There is something else which the God of the Bible cannot do; He cannot sin. We also discover that He cannot be tempted to sin. James wrote,

Don’t blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn’t use evil to tempt others. (James 1:13 CEV)

There is nothing anyone can do to tempt God to sin. He does not have this capability.

3. God Cannot Deny Himself

The Bible says that the God of the Bible cannot deny Himself. Paul emphasized this truth when he wrote to Timothy. He said,

“If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful. Christ cannot deny who he is.” (2 Timothy 2:13 CEV)

God can only do things that are in harmony with His character. Self-denial is not possible. This is something that cannot happen.

4. God Cannot Go Back on His Promises

God has also stated that He cannot go back on His Word. In other words, He always keeps His promises. The psalmist declared,

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89 NIV)

When the Lord makes a promise, He keeps His promise. It is impossible for Him to break a promise which He makes.

5. God Cannot Look upon Sin with Approval

While God sees everything, He cannot look upon any sin in an approving way. We read in the following from the prophet Habakkuk concerning this matter.

Holy Lord God, mighty rock, you are eternal, and we are safe from death. You are using those Babylonians to judge and punish others. But you can’t stand sin or wrong. So don’t sit by in silence while they gobble down people who are better than they are. (Habakkuk 1:12, 13 CEV)

While God sees all sin He is not able to look favorably on any particular sin that people commit. He must do something about it.

Conclusion: It Is Important To Have A Proper Understanding Of God’s Omnipotence

Since there are certain things that God cannot do, then how can He be all-powerful? Is this not a contradiction of terms?

The answer lies in a proper understanding of God’s omnipotence. Omnipotence does not mean God cannot exercise self-limitation. God cannot contradict His nature or the nature of things as they are. It is not possible for God to either lie or to die. Neither can He make two plus two equal five nor can He make a square triangle.

The biblical God has limited Himself only to acts that are consistent with His righteous, loving character. Therefore, God’s power is self-restrained. He cannot do evil and He cannot do anything irrational. He cannot go back upon His Word. He is all-powerful when it comes to doing things that are right, but He has no power to do things wrong. This is the proper definition of God being all-powerful or omnipotent.

Summary – Question 13
If God Is All-Powerful Then Does It Mean He Can Do Anything? Are There Any Limits to What God Can Do?

When we speak of God being omnipotent or all-powerful we must understand exactly what that means. If not, we will have an incomplete picture of the God of Scripture.

To begin with, being omnipotent means that God is able to do anything that is consistent with His holy character. Nothing can stop Him from doing whatever He decides to do.

However, there are certain things which He cannot do. The Bible actually lists a number of specific things which God cannot do.

For example, He is not able to lie. This means the God of the Bible always tells the truth. Lying is not something which He is capable of doing.

Neither is God able to do anything sinful. He cannot personally sin. Again, Scripture says that committing a sin is impossible for God.

Furthermore, we are told that God is not able to deny Himself. This has the idea that He cannot deny His essential being, who He truly is.

In addition, God can never looks at sin with some sort of approval. He does not “wink” at our sin. Instead, He judges it.

We also discover that God cannot do anything that is logically impossible. In other words, He cannot make a square triangle or two plus two to equal seven.

The fact that there are certain things which God cannot do does not limit His power. Indeed, the fact that He has certain self-limitations does not take away from His power and majesty. He can do everything that is holy and wise.

This explains the self-limitations which God has placed upon Himself.

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