Can’t Say “Can’t” in Christ

Most Christians who need counseling have one thing in common.  Every observant pastoral counselor has noticed this all-but-universal characteristic: their conversation is studded with the word “can’t.”  This common trait may be explained in various ways.  Some might suppose that it is indicative of a basic weakness or inability that underlies their other problems.  This explanation leads to the conclusion that these are people who constitutionally, or for some other reason, really can’t do what God requires.  That is, of course, an explanation that accepts the counselee’s view that he is helpless.  It also renders the counselor helpless, you will notice.

But there’s another explanation of this phenomenon: the biblical explanation is that men “cop out” on their responsibilities and fail to accomplish their tasks because of sin.

Paul allows no Christian to escape by the use of the word “can’t.” He writes:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

If indeed God never sends trials heavier than a Christian can bear, the Christian has no right to protest, “I can’t.”  If God has sent it, he can take it!  If God has required it, he can do it!  Even though the trials we face are not unique in their basic designs, the detailed form they take, the intensity with which they come, and the point in life at which we must face them, are all tailor-made to each individual child of God, and, don’t forget, God is the tailor!  No trials or temptations hang too long on us.  They fit us precisely.  God never allows the Devil to tempt a Christian beyond his ability to withstand, provided that he does so in God’s way, by means of God’s resources and not his own.  The book of Job stands as a sturdy witness to this promise.

But you protest – “I don’t think I could stand firm for my faith before a firing squad as other Christians have.”  You may be correct.  But you do not now have to face a firing squad.  The promise is not that you will have strength to meet tomorrow’s problem today, but only that, when it comes, God will provide the needed wisdom and courage to do so.  Often the strength comes in the doing….

Given the grace of God, given your knowledge of God’s Word, given your present state of sanctification, given the resources of the Holy Spirit within, there is no trial into which God calls you that is beyond your ability to withstand.  Instead of saying “can’t,” you should say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This is an important principle to grasp…. The Bible is able to equip every Christian fully for every emergency in life.  To fail to use God’s gracious provision of the Scriptures in which lie the principles needed for a life of godliness is to misrepresent God to unbelievers.  It is no less than a slander against the One who died for sins on the cross and who, if He did that for us, will also freely give us all things necessary for life and godliness.  Indeed, those who do not know Christ are repelled daily by Christians who live and act in the spirit of the word “can’t.”

Paul neither ignores the severity of your problem nor minimizes it when he says you can endure it; he simply tells the truth about God and about you.  And if you doubt him, then remember that he was careful to preface this promise with the assurance that God’s Word is as certain as His own faithfulness: “God is faithful who will not allow you to be tried beyond what you are able to endure.”

Christian wife, your home can be different.  Young man, you can help your behavior when you are out alone with girls.  Businessman, you can meet that irate customer tomorrow.  Shut-in, you can overcome the feeling of loneliness and uselessness that seems to be driving you to despair.  Whatever the problem, through Jesus Christ, you can.  So, go ahead and prove to yourself and those all around you that God’s promise is true.

Jay Adams, Christ and Your Problems, 23-26.


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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Applied Theology, Bible, Christian Living, Christian Thinking, Christology, Commentary, Counseling, God, Gospel, Grace, Knowledge of God, Mortification of Sin, Obedience, Providence, Sanctification, Satan, Sin, Sovereign Grace, Theology

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