Do you think God would give you a commandment and not the ability to fulfill it?

Do you think God would give you a commandment and not the ability to fulfill it?

Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

A New Command, A New Ability

Jesus gave the disciples a new command before He left, and it was to love one another just as He had loved them (John 13:34). He told them that this is how other people will know that they are His disciples, if they loved one another (John 13:35). They were commanded to love one another in the same way that Jesus loved them (John 15:2), but Jesus would have never commanded them to do something that He would not give them the ability to do. That would be like swearing in a police officer and commanding him or her to do their duty and then not giving them a gun or a car so that they could perform what they were commanded to do, which was to keep the peace. Surely we don’t think God would command us to do something and then not give us the ability to do it.

Loving Our Enemies

This sounds humanly impossible, but by God’s Spirit, we can love our enemies. Not only that, we can pray for our persecutors (Matt. 5:44). Jesus would have never commanded us to do this unless He understood that He could enable us do it. The difference is that we can’t do it in our own human strength. We need God’s Spirit, and in Christ we can do all things because Christ Himself will strengthen us (Phil. 4:13). Nowhere does He say we can do all things in our own strength. On the contrary, we can’t do anything without Him (John 15:5). Jesus commands us to do things but not without Him. He commands what He empowers.

Devotion to One Another

Once more we see something that is humanly impossible, which is to be devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10). This fulfills the Law (Rom. 13:8). If someone’s been born again, they can love others (1 John 4:7). If they’ve never been born again, they couldn’t possibly do this. We don’t have it in us outside of the power of God’s Spirit. The Spirit of God allows us, or really He empowers us, to esteem others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3) and to submit to one another out of a holy reverence for Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:21). That’ won’t work with the human spirit alone because it’s not enough to enable us to do it. But the thing we must remember is that God will not ever give us a command that He won’t give us the ability to fulfill.

A Closing Prayer

Father, You and Your Spirit can help me to fulfill what You command; otherwise, it is impossible for me to love my brother and sister in the way that Jesus loved me. I need help in this because I know my own strength is insufficient, but You can empower me to obey what You command. I ask for this power in Jesus’ mighty name.


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