Four Things God Cannot Do (Part I)

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English Service on November 13 

Messenger: Pastor Jim Allison


James 1:13-15, Hebrews 6:13-18 


Four Things God Cannot Do (Part I)


Here we are, just a week away from Advent.  Again this Christmas, we’ll hear the story of the angel telling Mary, along with the big news of Jesus’ coming birth, “. . . There is nothing that God cannot do” (Luke 1:37, Good News Translation).  As followers of Christ, we accept this as true.  God can do anything, and believing that can open up our hearts, minds, and imaginations to fresh possibilities.  It can help us become more positive, hopeful people.


But is it always true?  For example, could God make a rock so large that he could not move it?  Could God think of a math problem so difficult that He could not solve it?  Either way, if you insist on saying it that way, there is something God cannot do, right?  Can God draw a square circle?  These questions can be a little silly, like asking a single man what his wife's name is.  But some do have more meaning.  They can lead us to think of what the Lord is actually like and know Him better.  For example, can God discover something?  Can God be surprised?  If so, how can He still be all-knowing?  Can God go someplace for the first time?  If so, how can He be present all places?  This type of question can also open up bigger ones.  For example, if God could do these things, would our limited minds be able to understand and accept it?  How would we arrange our lives in response to this knowledge?  Does God sometimes choose to limit Himself so that He cannot do some things?  


All these may be very interesting questions, but at least some of them can quickly slip into being thoughts not about God so much as the meaning of particular words.  I want to avoid that today.  And human languages at some point become unable to describe accurately the unlimited, vast, mysterious nature of God.  So I want to focus our search.  Let’s look at four things (two today and the others another time) that God cannot do because if He did, they 


would go against His character and nature.  Let’s think together about them so that we can see more clearly what God is like and know Him with greater faith and love.  


To do that, let’s consider only things that the Bible tells us God cannot do.  We could make a long list if we said things like “God is love, so God cannot hate.”  Certainly that would be true in many ways, but let’s stick to what God specifically tells us in the Bible that He cannot do.  In each of the verses I’ll introduce to you, the original Bible language says “cannot” using different words, not just a single term that goes straight into English as “cannot” and nothing else.  And some scholars use “cannot” in translating the verses I’ll explain while others use different words to say basically the same thing.  So please understand that to make the list I’ll give you, I’ve done a little picking and choosing.  As a result, I’m going to use not only the New International Readers Version (NIRV) that I usually do, but a variety of translations.  (I’m not going to stop to tell you which one each time, but if you’re interested, you can read them in the handout.)  


First, in James 1:13 (NIV) we read, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone . . . .”  The most widely-used English translations (including GNT, KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV) have it the same (“God cannot be tempted . . . .”) or almost the same (“God can’t be tempted . . . .” in the NIRV).  Neither the Shinkaiyaku nor the Shinkyoudouyaku use the wordできない but say that God is Someone who is not tempted by evil (Shinkaiyaku) and God is not the type of being who receives temptation to evil (Shinkyoudouyaku).    


God is good.  God is holy.  He loves what is good.  Even when He sees what is bad, it is not attractive to Him.  He hates it.  That is why He teaches us in Romans 12:9 (NIV),“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”


Do you hate gossip?  Hate pornography?  Hate jokes that make some people look good by putting others down?  Are you clinging to respect for people, to humility, to the will to truly listen to people?  These are things God loves and practices in the way He treats you and me.  So it just makes sense when we, as His followers, choose to treat people the same way He does.


God does not tempt people.  The beginning of the Genesis 22 story of Abraham’s preparing to kill his son Isaac on the altar says in the old King James Version (v. 1) that God “did tempt Abraham.”  But the context of the words “did tempt” and the way they are used makes it clear that the meaning is more of testing than tempting, and modern translations generally say “tested” or something similar.  God’s purpose when He lets hard challenges of life come to us is not to lead us to do bad things but, in the times He wisely chooses, let us face these trials so that we will become stronger and better.


So when we feel like doing something that is not good, we can’t really say it’s God’s fault.  Do we do that?  Well, let’s think when we might try to blame God for our own bad choices.  For example, we have natural desires for things like food, drink, sex, rest, play, and so on.  But each one of these basically good things can lead us into terrible trouble if we let it go unchecked.  If we do not submit our wills to God and let Him meet our needs by giving these to us as He chooses, bad results follow.  These can include obesity, alcoholism, other drug dependency, sexual diseases, and many more.  


In recent years, we have heard people use the “I was born this way” argument as a reason LGBTQ lifestyles are just as good as any other.  From the point of view of the God of the Bible, that seems to be true only if He creates people as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer people.  Does He?  It is difficult to find support for that idea in the Bible.  “One man and one woman together forever” seems to be God’s plan for marriage in human society.  And “sex inside and not outside marriage” apparently is His plan for human sexual 


relationships.  The Bible does not seem to teach that same-sex attraction is bad, any more than opposite-sex attraction is for people who are not married.  And no matter what a person chooses, it does not stop God from loving him or her.  There is grace for gay people, just as there is for (a) people who don’t love our opposite-sex marriage partners as we promised we would when we got married or (b) divorced people or (c) people God would like to be married but say, “No, I think I’ll keep my options open” and don’t marry.  In other words, there are many ways people arrange our lives outside of God’s will.  And we do not please Him by punishing some of these and treating others as no problem.  In all the difficult questions in same-sex relationships, one thing is clear for Christians: our God does not hate LGBTQ people, and shame on us if we do.  There is no excuse for Christians to condemn and be hateful to others who do not follow the plans the Bible’s God has for them, whether they are gay, straight, or whatever.  


Also, God does seem to call many people who naturally feel sexual attraction to live part or all of life in celibacy.  For example, many couples who want to get married have a time before the marriage when they choose to live with love but without sex.  Some people who are married find years of their lives when they want to be sexually active but their partner does not, whether for reasons of health, trouble getting along, or whatever.  Others never find a mate, or their spouse dies and they are alone.  Whatever we feel our sexual orientation is, God does not teach His people that sex outside marriage is OK.  He calls many of us, of various orientations, to wait on Him to lead us into relationships that include sex when the time is right. 


But, again, we may choose to follow our desires for sexual relationships outside the kind of marriage His word says he plans for people.  If we do, whatever our sexual orientation is, we can’t expect God to accept and bless our choices.  If we sign His name at the bottom of a picture that He hasn’t painted, the results of our action will not be good.  These teachings may be more and 


more difficult for people in our particular cultures to understand today.  There may even be an increasing price to pay for keeping these parts of traditional 

Christian faith.  But they seem to be part of the teaching that God continues to give His people.


God does not tempt people to sin.  That includes the sin of unbelief.  That is the only sin that will keep you out of heaven, the Bible teaches.  God can forgive any sin, but we have to ask Him, believing and trusting Him to do it.  That’s the problem for many people.  I know of some who say, for example, “I can’t believe in God because He let my child die.”  “I can’t believe in a God who would kill my wife.”  Maybe you have heard things like that, too. 


As one of my teachers used to say, “It’s bad enough to be understood, let alone misunderstood.”  Before we reject someone or some idea, we really need to understand it accurately.  Many people today, I believe, refuse to accept God because they misunderstand who He is and what He says to us.  In II Peter 3:9 (NIV), the writer says about God, “. . . He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  Our Father in heaven does not want people to die.  He is not a murderer.  In fact, His Son Jesus died to make a way for us to live.  He continues to suffer with us in our times of trouble.  What a tragedy to reject Him when He is the One who holds out to us the greatest help we can find in our times of pain!


You may hear people blame society or the period of history when they lived.  I’ve read people who said things like “Everyone was into sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll in the 1960s, so of course I was, too.”  Yes, there were a lot of people in those days who made these their highest priorities.  But I remember many other people who chose different types of lives.  In the Bible story of Job, when everything was falling apart in their family’s life, his wife decided that God wasn’t helping them when they were in trouble, so their problems must be His fault.  Her advice to Job (Job 2:9, NIV) was “Curse God and die!”  We can 


follow that same kind of thinking all the way back to Adam and Eve’s story.  They chose to eat the forbidden fruit and God challenged them about it.  Adam 

said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  He didn’t only conveniently blame his wife—he also turned the blame back to God.  


We cannot choose the time and culture in which we are born.  Those things are in God’s hands, and we trust that He has made the very best choice for each of us.  But thanks to the great gift of freedom which God gives us as human beings, we can choose much about the types of lives we live.     


Let’s push the pause button on the message now and ask God to help us live with both that freedom and the responsibility that comes along with it. 


God, we praise you for being pure, holy, and good in every way.  Living in a world that has so much that is bad in it, we need to have something, Someone, in our lives that is truly and always good.  So we respond to the goodness we find in you by asking you to help us be like you.  Give us hearts that sense what is right, true, and good.  Give us the spirit and the will we need to love what is good and so follow in your steps.  We know that only you can do certain things like create the world and provide for salvation through the cross.  But we also hear you calling us to take part in your unique work of creating and saving by learning to live creatively and helping suffering people to know your saving love.  For this we need pure hearts and minds that truly love what is good.  So for these we pray, in Christ’s name.


Now here is the second thing God cannot do.  Hebrews 6:18 (GNT) tells us, “There are these two things, then, that cannot change and about which God cannot lie. So we who have found safety with him are greatly encouraged to hold firmly to the hope placed before us.”  Similarly, in Titus 1:2 we read about “hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before 


time began” (NKJV).  In other words, God is truthful.  He is honest.  


Many people have been shocked recently at learning how various leaders of nations have kept secrets from their countries’ people, only to have them later brought out in the open.  Claims of secret consultants, sexual attacks on women, and broken promises about cooperating in investigations have all damaged people in high places when they were made public.  Many voters have felt frustration at them for making promises in election campaigns but not keeping them after coming into power.  


When human leaders fail us, as they always do sooner or later to some degree, we need to recall that we have an unbreakable link with the God who is King over all.  One excited person in the news after Donald Trump won the election for President of the U.S. said, “I’m just so happy that he won, and he’s going to save our country and in the process probably save the world!”  Really?  The Bible’s God tells us that our salvation ultimately will come from no human leader but Him alone.  He is always reliable, always there for us, and always deserving of our trust.  As Christians, we live standing on the Covenant, that is, the promise of God.  He has said, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7).  He says that type of thing again and again, then in Psalm 89:34 (NIRV), “I will not break my covenant. I will not go back on my word.”  Thank God for that solid rock on which we can stand.  Let’s go to Him in prayer.


Lord, we hear you again today giving us the great promise that you will never leave us and never forsake us.  Help us in response to live each day in reliance on you, trusting you to speak to us truthfully as you guide us.  In Christ’s name, amen.


In closing, we’ve seen again today that God cannot be tempted and cannot lie.  It is because God cannot do these things that we can do all things 


through Christ, Who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).  God is good and holy.  

So we can commit ourselves to becoming like Him in this way, step by step, day 

by day.  God is truthful and honest.  So we can commit ourselves to trusting Him.  Will you do that with me now?


Father, we praise you for being the kind of God you are.  We confess that you are pure, good, holy, truthful, worthy of our trust, the reliable guide to our lives.  Let this knowledge guide and empower us to know and love you more deeply and to serve you with greater power and effectiveness today, tomorrow, and every day.  In Christ’s name, amen.     




Nally, J. R. (n.d.). Third Millennium Ministries. Retrieved November 13, 2016 from

Boyle, J. (November 9, 2016). “Donald Trump Supporters Share Reactions to His Victory.” All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Retrieved on November 10, 2016 from 11/09/501476933/donald-trump-supporters-share-reaction-to-his-victory



ヤコブの手紙1:13~15, へブル人への手紙6:13~18







しかし、それはいつも真実と言えるでしょうか? 例えば、 神様は自分で動かせないほど巨大な岩を作ることができる? 神様は自分で解けないほど難しい数学の問題を作ることができる? その言い方にすれば、いずれにしても、神様のできないことがあるということになります。神様は四角い円を描くことができる? このような質問は、未婚の男性に、奥さんの名前は何かと尋ねるような少し馬鹿げた質問かもしれません。しかし、神様が実際どのような方なのかを考えさせ、神様をもっとよく知ることができるよう導く意味のある質問があります。例えば、神様は何かを発見することができるか? 神様は驚くことができるか? もしできるとすれば、神様は全てを知っておられる神だとどうして言えるでしょうか。神様はどこかへ初めて行くことができるか? もしできるとすれば、神様は全ての場所に存在できると言えるでしょうか。このようなタイプの質問はさらに大きく広がっていきます。例えば、もしそれらが可能だとすれば、私たちの限られた考えで、それを理解し、受け入れることができるかということです。そしてそのように理解できれば、その知識に対してどう反応して自分の生き方を整えていくでしょうか。神様は時々、ご自身を制限し、ある事柄を不可能とするでしょうか。




 これを行うために、聖書で“神様がすることができない”と言っていることのみを考えてみましょう。例えば、「神は愛であるから、憎むことができない」というような、長いリストを作ることができます。実際多くはその通りだと思いますが、ここでは、神様が聖書の中で明確に、“神ができない”と言っていることを忠実に見ていきます。これから紹介する一つひとつの節は、聖書の原語では、種々の言葉を用いて“できない”と述べています。英語の “cannot”という一つの言い回しではありません。ですから、これから私が説明する御言葉の訳で、基本的に同じ意味ですが“cannot”を使う学者もいれば、そうでない学者もいます。私が聖書から拾って選んだリストを紹介したいと思いますが、そのことはご理解いただければと思います。結果的に、普段私が使用しているNew International Readers Version (NIRV) だけではなく、様々な訳を使用します。(都度お伝えしませんので、興味のある方は、配布資料をご覧ください ) 




(NIV) “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone . . . .”


最も広く使われている英語訳(GNT, KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV) も同様に 

“God cannot be tempted . . . .” や “God can’t be tempted . . . .” (NIRV)を使用。














近年では、LGBTQライフスタイルが他の人たち同様に良いものであるという理由づけとして、「私はこのように生まれた」議論をするのを耳にします。聖書の神様の観点から言うと、もし神様が、人間をレズビアン、ゲイ、バイセクシャル、トランスジェンダー、変わり者として創造された場合のみ、それは正しいようです。神様はそうしたでしょうか。聖書の中からは、その考えを支持することは難しいです。“一人の男性と一人の女性が生涯一緒になる”ことが人間社会において結婚に対する神様のご計画のようです。聖書では同性が惹かれあうことが悪いと教えていません。結婚していない男女が惹かれあうことについても同様です。たとえ人が何を選択したとしても、神様がその人を愛することに変わりはありません。ゲイの人々にも恵みがあります。それはa)結婚した時に愛することを約束した異性を愛せない人々 b)離婚した人々 c)神様が結婚を望んでいるにも関わらず、別の選択肢があるかもしれないと主張し結婚しない人々にも恵みがあるのと同様です。言い方を変えると、人間は、神様の意図しないたくさんの方法で生活しているのです。ですから、ある種のことは罰し、他のことは問題ないというやり方で神様は喜ばれません。同性関係における全ての難しい問題において、クリスチャンにとって一つだけ、明らかなことがあります。神様はLGBTQの人たちを憎んでおらず、もし私たちがそうであるなら、悲しまれます。ゲイであってもなくても、神様の計画に従っていないからという理由で、その人たちを責めたり、憎んだりすることはクリスチャンにとって言い訳にはなりません。
















 神様、あなたが清く、聖なる方で、全てにおいて良い方であることを褒めたたえます。 悪がはびこる世の中に生きていく中で、私たちの生活の中で本当に、常に正しい、何か誰かが必要です。あなたの中に良きものを見、応答します。私たちもあなたのようになれるよう助けてください。何が正しく、真実で良いものであるかを識別できる心を与えてください。御霊によって、良いものを愛しあなたのステップに従っていくことができる意志を与えてください。あなただけが、世界を創造し、十字架による救いを与えることができることを知っています。またあなたは、私たちを召してくださり、創造的に生きることを学び、あなたの愛を知るために困難にある人を助けることで、あなたの創造と救いの業に参加させてくださいます。そのために良いものを愛する清い心を求めます。これらのことを、キリストの御名によってお祈りいたします。


 それでは2つめの神様ができないことです。へブル人への手紙6:18 「それは、変えることのできない二つの事がらによって、――神は、これらの事がらのゆえに、偽ることができません。――前に置かれている望みを捕えるためにのがれて来た私たちが、力強い励ましを受けるためです。」同様にテトス1:2「偽ることのない神が、永遠の昔から約束してくださった永遠のいのちの望みに基づくことです」 言い換えるならば、 神様は誠実で正直であるということです。




 人間のリーダーが、いつも早かれ遅かれある程度において、私たちを失望させる時、私たちはすべての王である神様と切れないつながりを持っていることを思い出す必要があります。ドナルド・トランプがアメリカの大統領選挙で勝利した後、ある人が興奮してニュースの中で言っていました。「彼が勝利してとても嬉しいです。彼が我々の国を救い、その過程においてきっと世界を救うでしょう!」本当にそうでしょうか? 聖書の神は、私たちの救いは究極的に、人間のリーダーではなく神のみからくると教えています。神様は信頼できる方であり、いつも私たちの為にいてくださり、信用に値する方です。クリスチャンとして、私たちは契約、すなわち神の約束に基づいて生きています。神様は「わたしはあなたがたを取ってわたしの民とし、わたしはあなたがたの神となる。」(出エジプト記6:7)と言っています。同じようなことを何度も言っています。そして詩編89:34で「わたしは、わたしの契約を破らない。くちびるから出たことを、わたしは変えない。」と言っています。私たちが立つことができる堅固な岩である神に感謝します。祈りましょう。




 最後に、私たちは今日再び、神様が誘惑されることのない方で、偽ることのできない方であることを見てきました。神様がこのようなことができない方なので、私たちがこう言うことができます。「私は、私を強くしてくださる方によって、どんなことでもできるのです」(ピリピ人への手紙4:13)。 神様は善であり聖なる方ですから、私たちは着実に、日々、神様のようになるために自分自身を委ねることができます。神様は真実で誠実な方ですから、信頼することに全力を注ぐことができます。今、一緒にそうしていけるように祈りましょう。