There’s a song called “What Faith Can Do”, and it is playing like crazy on Christian radio right now. When I heard it this morning, this lyric really grabbed my attention:
Impossible is not a word; it’s just a reason for someone not to try.
I think it hit home because I am NOTORIOUS for claiming that things I don’t want to do or things at which I believe I will fail are “impossible”, especially when those things involve obeying God. When God tells me to do something hard, uncomfortable or scary, I tell myself it’s impossible. And I am so matter-of-fact about it, my heart doesn’t even usually notice that I am just making excuses to be disobedient.
My current struggle with “impossible” comes as I think about the holy standard to which God calls us. Peter said in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'”
When I think about the word “holy”, I think of other words like “sinless”, “pure”, “perfect”, and “impossible”. I just cannot bring myself to believe that it is possible for any human to conduct himself in a holy manner for more than about five minutes. And that would be fine if that’s what Peter meant. If his original letter had said, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in small doses sporadically throughout your day,” we’d all be in great shape. But that’s not what Peter intended. We are to be holy all the time, just as God is holy all the time. God’s essence is holiness. Holiness is not just another wonderful attribute about God that He chooses to display some of the time and shelf at other times. God is holy. Holy is what He is. He can’t be unholy or do unholy things because that would go against His very nature.
But, contrary to popular belief, you and I are not God. We are not holy. Our very natures are unholy. We can’t go one day without sinning, and we’ve never managed to eradicate that problem. Even us Christians, whose sin problems have been taken care of from an eternal perspective, still sin everyday. We are fallen, and it is impossible for us to be holy.
Or is it?
Scripture not only says that it is possible for us to be holy, it commands us to BE HOLY! Whenever my perception of reality (holiness is impossible) clashes with Scripture’s depiction of reality (holiness is possible), I know I am the one that is wrong. After all, Scripture is holy, and I am not 😉
So, we are staring at this seemingly impossible standard – holiness – and we know we don’t have what it takes to be holy, through and through, day in and day out. But if we want to honor God, we have to find a way to obey. What are we to do?
This is where I normally say, “Oh well. I can’t do it. God knows I can’t do it. Therefore, I am absolved of all responsibility to even try.”
God knows I can’t do it by myself. And He’s not asking me to. He’s not an unreasonable guy. He tells me in His Word how I can be successful in this “impossible” situation.
He says He will do it for me.
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:21). God will make us stand firm – He will make us holy – if we are willing. Per 2 Corinthians 1:9, all we have to do is rely on God. He is the one with the power to help us accomplish the “impossible” things to which we are called. Now, He’s not going to force us to trust Him. We have to choose. But if we are open to it, He is standing by, ready to make us stand firm, ready to make us holy.