Cast your worries…rejoice always…pray without ceasing…love/serve others…be self-controlled…practice kindness to all…be patient…die to self…surrender to Him…those are just a few of the biblical instructions that seem to give us problems. I have heard people claim they can’t __________ (whatever, may not even be on the list). I’ve stated the same thing for a few things on the list (okay more than a few).
There’s a problem with our stating we “can’t.” It’s not a problem we want to admit…by no means is it a comfortable place to be…the word can’t when used in conjunction with a scriptural instruction, leaves us with two possibilities.
1 – The person saying I can’t is lying…trying to excuse away personal responsibility:
What we are really saying (in this case) is we don’t want to…for whatever reason. It takes to much effort, we like following the world on this one…or some other excuse. But no matter what we bring up to defend our position…what we are really saying is…I could, but I don’t want to. It, if we believe what we say we believe, is our responsibility to “access” what we’ve been given.
“I can’t stop worrying”…He has promised to care for us, take our burdens (1 Peter 5:6-7), provide for our needs, to give us peace of mind (Matthew 6:25-34), we do have ALL things that pertain to life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:3-5).
“I can’t rejoice”…add to what we just mentioned that joy is one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit that is explicitly listed (Galatians 5:22-23), and we’re told to rejoice always, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Philippians 4:4)
We could go on…for each can’t…there is something in scripture telling us we can. So, it comes down to our choice. Are we going to live out what we say we believe, or are we going to continue to wallow in the slop of the world?
2 – The person saying I can’t is not saved/not a believer…
When we accept Christ as our Savior, we become indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). We gain the fruit of the Spirit – every part of it. We gain EVERYTHING we need to live a divine life. We are enabled to do greater things than Christ (John14:12). We no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Roll that all together and if we truly “can’t” do something God has asked and equipped believers to do…then we haven’t been equipped…aka not saved.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9 ESV)
I do want to make sure I’m not misunderstood here. I am not saying anyone who struggles with self-control, lack of joy, worry, or anything else mentioned above…is not a believer in Jesus. I fully admit to struggles with self-control along with several others…but I know God has equipped me to be an overcomer. In my weakness, I choose to not access self-control (especially around food) – something I work on, but I’m not consistent in that arena. I know it’s my failing…not a “can’t” situation. I, to my shame, choose the world over Christ – way too often. I need to put my words into practice…abiding in Him and accessing the fullness of what He has given me.
What I am referencing is those who keep saying they “can’t”…as stated above can’t means either you are ducking your personal responsibility and calling God a liar, or you never were a believer – there are no other choices when it comes to a “can’t” position.
You, as a believer, can’t use can’t as an excuse.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)