Mission Impossible

Posted on Sun 04/10/2022 by

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Maybe it’s time to let God do some “Mission Impossible” work in your life?

Admit it: Watching Tom Cruise hanging off the side of an aircraft taking off from an airstrip was exciting to watch. Impossible, of course, but that’s the whole gist of the genre. Just like climbing Burj Khalifa, a tall glass hotel in Dubai, and no one sees him outside their window! My guess is he’s been inspired by that great 21st-century philosopher Larry the Cable Guy, who famously said, “Git’er done!” Admittedly, I’m a “can do” guy, or at least I was in my younger years. None of us like admitting there’s something we can’t do if we set our minds to it. As Christians, however, there are a few impossible scenarios we need to consider.

First, it’s impossible to be saved by our own efforts. In Matthew 19, a rich man came to Jesus and asked Him how to gain “eternal life.” Jesus listed some commandments that the young man acknowledged he had kept from his youth. He then said, “What do I still lack?” (19:20, ESV). He realized that something was missing. When Jesus told him to give all he had to the poor and follow Him, he went away “sorrowful.” When Jesus told His disciples how difficult it was for a rich man to be saved, they were shocked. “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (19:25-26). Jesus was the first “one way” Christian (John 14:6).

Second, it is impossible to live the Christian life in our own power. Paul acknowledged this fact in his Epistle to the Romans. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (7:18). But then he gives us an insight into how to live uprightly. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (8:1-2). The provision for that impossible mission, living a life of holiness, is ours through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Done deal!

Third, and most importantly, we cannot forgive in our own power. You may be familiar with the first two points, but this may be a surprise to you. Think about it. We are told to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13). How, exactly, did that happen? Did you get your act together, go to church, and then ask the Lord for forgiveness? Hardly! It was in our wretched state, when we were enemies of God, that forgiveness came to us through the sacrifice of King Jesus. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).

Unconditional forgiveness is not within our human nature. I want payback! I want to see the perpetrator suffer. I want to see repentance. Do you see the “I” problem here? Do you know why we’re told to forgive unconditionally? Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil.” The Greek word translated as “opportunity” is topos (Vine’s Expository Dictionary), from which we get our word “topography.” Unresolved anger gives the devil a foothold in your life, and forgiveness is the only mechanism for taking that ground back. Scripture calls it a root of bitterness. “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:14-15).

Notice that it’s a failure to “obtain the grace of God” that allows bitterness to take root. James tells us, “You do not have because you do not ask” (4:2). We must confess that resentment to God and then ask for the grace-empowering work of the Spirit to enable us to forgive. You should know that you will never fully enter a victorious life in Christ if you allow that unforgiveness to fester. Many Christians have fallen by the wayside because of a failure to understand the simplicity of forgiveness. Simple and yet difficult, dare I say impossible, at the same time. Maybe it’s time to let God do some “Mission Impossible” work in your life? What say ye, Man of Valor?

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