Home > Apologetics, General, Questions and Answers, Theology > Can God literally do ANYthing?

Can God literally do ANYthing?

You hear it all the time: God is omnipotent, “with God, all things are possible.” But is this 100%, literally true?

The answer is no, God cannot do everything imaginable. Does this mean that the quote above from the Bible is a contradiction or mistake? No, it just means that the Bible sometimes doesn’t bother to clarify things beyond the scope of its direct message or clear intent. The rest of its meaning can be gleaned with some thought.

In some ways, God is immeasurable and beyond our ability to fully comprehend. In other ways, He is very simple and predictable. Let’s look at three areas where we know God is “limited.” Note that none of these detract from His greatness, but are rather consistent with it.

1. God cannot act contrary to his nature.

A mere person can act in ways that are contrary to her general nature. A normally honest person could lie to someone else. A person of integrity could decide, with enough impetus, to cheat.

God is not just a living being or person, but is the embodiment of good, justice, and truth. He cannot do evil acts for self-satisfaction, and he cannot allow sins and crimes to go unpunished. If God could lie, he would become something else and no longer the personification of all truth. But he literally cannot tell a lie. He also cannot hate or hurt out of spite due to his love nature.

He can only act toward the greater good.

2. God cannot do the logically impossible.

Don’t mistake this for things that are physically impossible. God can do those things since all physics and matter are under his control. He can create something out of nothing, and he can alter time and space.

But God cannot make a married bachelor or a round square. In the same way, he cannot force a person to freely love him.

3. God cannot (or will not) infringe upon free will.

God gave humans and angels free will, and while he technically has the power to take it away, he will not do so. Once free will is in place, therefore, He cannot logically force a free creature to love him or to do good. The very act of making people love him or guaranteeing a good outcome would necessarily infringe upon free will. Free will is so crucial in God’s sight that nothing can take away from it. We humans can’t defeat it either…even death threats or torture are merely strong forms of persuasion.

This means that God has granted us autonomy and he cannot necessarily control us—only persuade or lead. However, this is far from being powerless since everything must be allowed in the first place by the ultimate permission-giver.

It’s possible, therefore, that this world we have now—as flawed as it is—is the best possible one. In other words, maybe this is the greatest amount of good coupled with the least amount of evil that God could logically allow and orchestrate without violating free will.

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  1. Anonymous
    August 29, 2011 at 2:27 am

    1. God cannot act contrary to his nature?
    god is love ,

    gods law in exodus 21 states

    15“Whoever hits his father or mother must be put to death.

    17“Whoever curses his father or mother must be put to death.

    18“This is what you must do whenever men quarrel and one hits the other with a rock or with his fist and injures him so that he has to stay in bed. 19If the injured man can get up again and walk around outside with a cane, the one who hit him must not be punished. He must pay the injured man for the loss of his time and for all his medical expenses.

    these scriptures really scare me

    6th commandment “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”

    SHOULD I KILL MY CHILD FOR HITTING ME? IS GOD LOVING HERE?
    A MAN CAN HIT ANOTHER AND NOT PAY WITH HIS LIFE ….YET A CHILD IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.
    CAN YOU EXPLAIN THIS PLEASE I LOVE GOD BUT AM NOT SURE ABOUT THESE TEACHINGS it shows me a scarey side god and before i read the bible i didnt think god was like this

    is it not controlling free will when it is said your live will be taken if you dont follow?
    what is a commandment? is it not controlling?

  2. August 29, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Dear Anonymous,

    I hope to be able to answer your questions and concerns wisely, though I am limited. It is important first and foremost to understand that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and that not everything He says is going to be agreeable or seem fair to us. If everything WE thought was right was actually true, we might as well make our own law and religion with our perfect wisdom…but of course, we are flawed human beings. Of course a perfect being’s will is going to seem off to imperfect beings like us. That’s the first thing.

    The second thing is that we are no longer bound by much of the Old Testament law. Please remember that apart from God’s salvation plan for us, in His perfect justice, even a single sin legally merits death. But it is only God’s love that allows us to be forgiven and redeemed through the work of Jesus Christ. God does not wish us to break His law. It breaks His heart when we do so, but if He were to “let it slide,” that would compromise his perfect justice. His love and justice must co-exist.

    Much of the OT law—especially the specific ones in Leviticus and such—was directed toward ancient culture. It was very harsh and practically impossible for people to follow all of them, which is why they were always offering up sacrifices to appease God. When we read the OT today, we learn two important things for our lives: 1) Sin is a big deal. We can’t judge the severity based on our gut feelings because we ourselves are full of sin (so how can we deem what is “fair”?); and 2) If Jesus Christ had not come to die for us, we would be bound under the OT law, and we would all be falling pathetically short.

    Did God change from a fearsome, wrathful God in the OT to a softer, warmer God in the New Testament? No, of course not. He was and always is perfect and unchanging. The difference is Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Now, God can legally love us and see us as blameless because of the blood covering of his perfect and sinless son. He gets to love us the way He wants to, and we get to stand before God without burning up (because sin cannot exist in His presence).

    In short, I will say your concerns are understandable. That is why so many skeptics love to point at these kinds of scriptures and mock God (but in the end, God will not be mocked…their punishment will become His further glory). And I’m glad you’ve approached it with honesty and earnestness, rather than try to sweep it under the rug. Sin is a big deal, my friend. Even in the previous century, the 1900s, something like adultery was shocking and abhorrent to people. Now, it’s commonplace and people will even laugh about it, making it the topic of their next gossip session. Do you see how far we naturally slide into sinfulness apart from God? Time and culture lessen the shock value and seriousness of sin, but this world is ruled by Satan. We cannot believe the lie or compromise. And we need to be thankful every day—especially when we look at the old law—that God was loving enough to send us His son to die for our wretchedness, so the penalty of our sin would be wiped away and we wouldn’t legally HAVE to die the second death.

    Heck, if I were God in perfect holiness, I would’ve just given up on us as a human species. I would’ve been like, “These disgusting sinners aren’t worth it.” Thank goodness God is infinitely more loving than I am!

    I hope this helped at least a little. It will never all make perfect sense to us in our human form, but one day it will. I encourage you to seek out wise counsel if you need further answers, and I am here for you as well.

  3. November 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Another great thing about the Domino Effect’ is how it can be put to work in an exponential fuiotncn for increased growth. Let me explain the principle. Each single domino in the line~up is increased in size by small increments until they become so large that they have more and more kinetic power.For instance, if it were possible to line them up in the USA all the way to Paris in a continous line, by the time the falling forward motion got to Paris, the dominos would be so large that they could very easily pulverize the Eiffel Tower because it would be so hugh and have so much forward force when it got there. Even though the growth of each successive domino in the line~up was barely perceived and only a fraction larger then the one that went down before it there would be the powerful final end result.We often can not see what Almighty God is up to in our ministry. And yet there can be a very powerful Domino Principle’ at work in us and we most likly will not even be able to perceive it. But by faith we know that it is a truth.Philippians 2:13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.1 Corinthians 13:12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.1 Corinthians 4:20For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.1 Thessalonians 1:5For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost God is in full control from His throne of grace. When we think that nothing is happening in our ministry He is actually at work. He is using the many divine appointments to achieve His powerful results down the Domino’ road of life

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