August 20, 2018

What Jesus Can’t Do For Us

By Leslie Diestelkamp

This article is not intended to limit the power of God or of Christ. That is, it is not intended that the reader
construe from this title that we helieve God is less than the Allpowerful creator of all things, or that Jesus and
the Father are less than all-wise and perfect. However, we must recognize that God's power is a controlled
power, and he does not do all that he has the power to do. Likewise, let us also recognize that there are some
things - yes many things - that cannot be done by God or man. For instance, even God in all his majesty and
might cannot make wrong right. If I say that George Washington's body is still alive, God cannot make that
the truth. God cannot change a wrong act into a right one.


Sometimes we hear a Christian, in wording a closing prayer, say: "We pray that what we have done here
today has been in accord with Thy will." But there is no use. If we have done wrong, that wrong will not
become right even if we pray for hours about it. In the following paragraphs let us notice a number of things
which Jesus can't do for us.


He Can't Shine From A Life Of Sin


There are only two ways in which the love of God and of Jesus is radiated to the world of sin today. One
of those ways is through the lives of God's people. Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world" (_NIt. 5:14)
Actually, though, the Christian has no real light of his own, but he reflects the light of God's love. The light
that came to this sin-cursed world in Jesus is made manifest in those who follow him today. But the light of
God's love cannot shine from a life that is blighted by sinfullness (unless and until that guilt is washed away
in the blood of Christ).


Actually the statement, "Ye are the light of the world" is a very significant and beautiful way of saying that
the world is to be influenced by the disciples of our Lord. Yet the potential influence of many children of God
is nullified by sinful living. The greatest gospel sermons usually fall upon deaf ears unless Christian people
exemplify the truths proclaimed. Jesus cannot open the eyes of those who are blinded by ungodliness in the
pulpit and the pew.


So many sinners excuse themselves by saying, "There are too many hypocrites in the church." They are
right too. Of course one hypocrite is too many, but there may just possibly be more than one. At any rate,
though such excuse will never avail for them, and thev will be lost unless they obey Christ, regardless of the
hypocrites, yet it is certainly a shame and a disgrace that God's people ever allow such an excuse to, be given.
If parents would have greater influence over their children, let them live such lives as the chi ldren, I . n the
delightful and refreshing candor and honesty that is possessed only by children, can follow into lives of purity,
honesty, integrity and righteousness. If husbands and wives would influence their companions, let them put
awav sinful words and deeds, for even marital love of the highest degree is inadequate to eliminate the cloud
cast by sinfulness in those who should influence us most. Let us all remember, that, whether it be in the
workshop, the school, the home, the community or on the farm, Jesus cannot use us as instruments of
righteousness I f ungodliness prevails in our words and action.


He Can't Put Sin Out Of Our Lives


When we surrender to the will of Christ and obey his word the Lord will forgive our sins and our souls will
be as pure as the soul of a new-born baby. But Jesus can't keep sin out of our livesi for that is the action that
we must take in manifesting the fruits of repentance. Jesus said to the sinful woman, "Go and sin no more."
Again we read, "Draw nigh to, God and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ve sinners; purify your
hearts ye double minded" (Jas. 4:8). The responsibility for a change in our conduct and our character is o,urs,
We must change! Jesus can't clean up our sinful lives while we continue in evil-doing. Paul did teach that the
Christian will not be tempted above that which he is able to bear, and the Lord does promise to aid, guide and
sustain us, but actual obligation for guilt is ours, not God's. If we would be rid of wickedness, let us put it
away, for Jesus has never promised to do that for us, nor can he do so.


He Can't Purify Our Bodies While Our Hearts Are Evil


Jesus said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications,
murders, thefts, covetiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from
within, and defile the man" (Mark 7:21 ). Sin that is made evident in the actions of our body has actually
originated in our minds. The intellect of man is responsible for man's sin. If we would possess bodies that are
clean and pure, let us clean up the "inner man." If we would speak words that are sound and "that cannot be
condemned," let us be sure that our speech eminates from a clean heart, for "out of the abundance of the heart
the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12:34). Whoever thinks evil long or much will surely say or do evil. Paul
admonished Christians to think on the things that are honest, just, true, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous
and worthy of praise (See Phil. 4:8). Jesus can't control our thoughts, nor can he make our lives contrast that
which we do think.


Christ Can't Do Our Religion For Us


Christianity is a doing religion. Jesus "went about doing good" and we are commanded to "be ye doers of
the word, not hearers only" (Jas. 1 :22). Pure religion is to help those who need and to keep oneself unspotted
from the world (Jas. 1:27). The Lord will not pav our debts; he will not give our money to the poor; he will not
lay our hands upon the sick; he will not turn our feet into the wav of helpfulness to the feeble and downtrodden.
Pure religion does not consist of what Jesus does for us, but of what we do for him and for his.


Jesus can't make us honest, benevolent, helpfill, zealous and kindhearted. Yet those are attributes that he
requires in us. Let us remember that Jesus does not perform a miracle upon the Banker so that our credit will
be good. Furthermore the Banker does not investigate the record of Jesus to determine our credit rating.
Likewise, Jesus does not remove the food from our pantry and give it to the poor, nor does he reach into our


Purse to relieve the beggar. The widow and the orphan are net sustained by a miracle from heaven, nor does
the Lord make the beds, wash the sheets and clean the blankets with which we may provide a bed for the
unfortunate. The fevered brow of the sick is not touched with a cool, damp cloth from heaven, and the feeble
and downtrodden, either ill hody or in mind, are not sustained and encouraged, either bv a guardian angel sent
from God or by any other miraculous means. Jesus came to do the will of the Father, and did it perfectly, but
he can't do for us what God has given as our responsibility.


Christ Can't Make A Good Worker Out Of The Unwilling


Jesus can't make a good teacher out of the unprepared, for to be a scholar, one must first be a student. The
Lord can't make a good personal worker out of one who won't speak to people about truth, and he can't make
a good bishop out of one who does not desire to thus serve. He can't make a preacher out of one who is
unwilling to speak, and he can't make a ~ong leader out of one who will not sing. Jesus can't even make a good
janitor out of one who won't sweep, and lie can't make a good deacon out of one who is not eager to be a
servant of men.


Jesus Can't Preach The Gospel To The World


The Lord committed the gospel to earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7) and ever since the full and perfect will was
revealed and given to us ill the written word, the Lord has charged men with the responsibility of teaching that
word, and if men fall it will not be preached at all. (See also 2 Tim. 2:2). And, just as surely as Jesus can't
speak to lost men about their souls, neither can he take money froin our pocket and put into the contribution
basket to supply the support for those who do preach the word. If the church treasury is to be adequate for such
work, we must supply the funds ourselves. The teeming millions who will face the Lord in judgment unprepared
will not point the accusing finger at Jesus, but unless we have been faithful n our duty, they will accuse us, and
justly.


Jesus said that "Ye are the salt of the earth," but he can't use us to save the lost if we are passive and weak.
Usefullness to Christ for man's salvation is dependent upon consecration on the part of the follower of the Lord,
and the disciple who does not give himself first, and then his substance, to Jesus, is like salt that has lost its
saltiness.


Jesus can't fill the church treasury, nor can he use what the church keeps in it. The abundance of God's
blessings will not make large contributions, but only the generosity of Christians will accomplish the Lord's
will in this matter. Likewise large contributions into the treasury will not make the church great nor its work
significant unless it is properly used. Every dollar that lies idly in the church treasury is a dollar that Jesus can't
use, either to bring relief to needy saints or to bring the gospel message to souls that are lost in sin. Funds of
great consequence mav give us a sense of security, but those funds that are not useful to Christ until they are
buying necessities for the needy or are supplying the ways and means for preaching thc. gospel.


Jesus Can't Become A Christian In Our Stead


Christ left us an example of faith and obedience, which included a life of sinlessness and of complete
subjection to the will of the Father, but the only faith and obedience that avails for us today is our own. He
said, "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will
of the Father which is in heaven." (Mt. 7:21). Significantly, when we surrender to the Lord's will the Lord
cleanses us from guilt, for we cannot cleanse ourselves, but on the other hand, the purity of Christ does not
purify us, and the faith that he had does not save us. His purity may motivate us, and his faith provided a way
for our salvation, but he still can't purify the impenitent - he can't wash the disobedient - he can't give new life
to the one who continues in the old life of sin.


Jesus said, "Ye must be born again" (Jn. 3:7). The "incorruptible seed, which is the word of God" is the
power to bring about this new birth, but our own action now, not the Lord's, brings us into the place where
w,-may have this new relationship to God.


Conclusion


Jesus can't take our place today. Figuratively he has no hands but our hands with which to reach out in
kindness and compassion. He has no lips but our lips with which to speak words of love and truth. He has no
feet but our feet with which to carry the gospel message to the four corners of the earth and to every human
soul. He has no money but our money with which to carry out the work of his church. Let us give fervent
thanks for the grave that provided that which we could never otherwise have had, and then let us with equal
zeal and with real devotion do those things which God wants us to do, and be exactly what Jesus would have
us be.


Truth Magazine II:4, pp. 14-16
January 1958

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