THE IMPOSSIBLE MADE EASY- Matthew 11:29-30 God commands actions and attitudes which are impossible to do in our strength such as “be ye holy as I am holy”, “put off all bitterness”,” love your enemies”,” in everything give thanks”, and then give us His grace and strength to live out those commandments. God’s commandments are achievable because God would be unjust if He commanded something but did not give His strength to perform it. He also provides His cleansing and forgiveness when we fail. Strength and Forgiveness are God’s provision for impossible commands. Our response to God’s impossible commands usually fall in two categories: lower the standard or humbly acknowledge our inability and run to Him for His Life (Galatians 2:20).
A. Lower the Standard By lowering the standard it is easier to reach them naturally (flesh, self-effort). By lowering the standard it makes the standard fit our experiences. Lower the standard and we can base our standard on a psychologist who studies what is natural. We can be satisfied with obeying God’s Word most of the time. We are doing pretty good. Problems with this approach:
1. Moving standard of righteousness. What is natural for one person is not natural for another. Truth lies with a person’s natural experience. We become ministers of “natural truth” instead of Biblical truth. Repentance is no longer needed since we are only doing what is natural.
2. It leaves us with unconfessed sin – God’s standard has not changed. He still commands ‘put off all bitterness)
3. It gives the devil a place (Eph. 4:27) to do more damage. We start down a slippery sloop -change ‘eveything” to”‘most of the time” so that what we say matches what we do.
4. Bitterness still eats like acid in a bitter person.
5. Bitterness still defiles others – children, new Christians, weak Christians etc.
B. Keep the Standards High
1. God’s Standards are absolute, reflect His character, are not hard but impossible with any fleshly self-effort. The old natural has become unnatural. The old normal has become abnormal.We have the power of God within us to make that a reality.
2. Leave the standard high and then allow our failure to cause us to be disgusted with the flesh (not the high standard) and desperate for continual relationship with God (Gal. 2:20; Mt. 11:30).
-3. God has set the high standard and also provided His life (to keep the standard) and provision for failure (cleansing and forgiveness). Our approach is to lower the standard because we don’t believe that God’s grace is sufficient, want to be proud of our righteousness, or hate the humbling reality of our weakness and the call for confession.
For the Christian bitterness is not natural because we are no longer the “natural” man. We are “new” creatures and the new man does not get bitter. When we are bitter we are living contrary to who we are.
Once we start lowering God’s standards where do we stop? Is it OK to be bitter once, twice, for nine months, nine years??? What other commands will be lower because we cannot keep them naturally? Are we counseling ourselves Biblically? Is that any different than the way people counsel us?
If the psychologist has found that most people are naturally bitter as a result of long periods of stress – he has studied the old nature. Truth is not determined by studying the old nature. Truth is determined by God’s Word, Ephesians 4:29 is a command. Commands are always possible to carry out because God would be unjust if He commanded us to do something if He did not give us the power to do so. Of course when we sin we have the provision of His cleansing blood (not by self-justification or lowering the standards) but acknowledging, confessing and repenting.
We also have to explain the situation when people have gone through greater stress than we have ever experienced for longer periods of time and displayed rejoicing and freedom.
Start living our new nature naturally. If we say its natural for us to be bitter even under long stress, we are saying something contrary to truth – for our nature is God’s nature. Stop justifying our old nature and letting it feel comfortable with lower standards.
Long periods of stress do not naturally cause bitterness. Our victorious living is done moment by moment. Long periods of time are merely made up of small moments. If we are forgiving and grateful minute by minute – we can always repeat that the next minute. Life is not really filled with long periods of time but minutes or steps.
If, however, one minute of bitterness is followed by another minute of bitterness we are building up a stronghold of bitterness that will pin us down, become our focus, delay progress, consume us, have a grip on us as a result of minute by minute bitterness not long periods of stress ( II Cor. 10:3).
Natural and normal should be determined by God’s word not consensus or polls conducted by those who live by the unnatural and abnormal.