Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, And nations who do not know you shall run to you, Because of the Lord your God, And the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:5-9
The whole idea that a person could limit God seems to be blasphemous to many Christians. However, this is Biblical truth. Unfortunately, many Christians have a misunderstanding of the sovereignty of God. In having this belief, many Christians limit what God can do in their lives. Many Christians and non-Christians alike believe that God “permits” everything to happen because He has some kind of divine plan for it all. Some Christians believe God has this divine plan and we can never understand this plan, as the above scripture says. However, this does not apply to the Christian:
“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:16
You see, though the world and unbelievers may not know the ways of God, Christians can and should. After all, we have the mind of Christ. We have a open line to Heaven through prayer and the Holy Spirit. Even Moses knew the ways of God. “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel (Psalms 103:7).” Moses, a person who wasn’t even born again, knew the ways of God. He even spoke to God face to face (Exodus 33:11). If Moses could do that in his unregenerative, non-born again state, how much more can we do so and know the mind of Christ.
But it is true that we can limit God.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 2 Timothy 2:3-4
We know that God desires that every single person on the planet would be saved and come to a knowing of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, however, we also know that not everyone is saved. We can limit God by what we believe and what we know about Him. If this is true in our salvation, isn’t it just common sense, logical, (and even more so biblical) that this applies to other areas such as healing and receiving from God?
You can’t just use one scripture to build your beliefs though. As students of the Word, we know that we must not take a single scripture and build a doctrine, a belief on it. We must take the whole counsel of God’s Word and build our faith on that, not just one scripture.
This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” – 2 Corinthians 13:1
In this way, building a belief on one scripture limits God in people’s lives.
The children of Israel knew about limiting God, as Psalms says:
“Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel.” – Psalms 78:41
As we can see from scripture, the children of Israel limited God. If we continue to read verse 42, we see: “They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy,” They limited God by not remembering His faithfulness. On the other hand, if we look at Sarah, we can see that she did not limit God by counting Him faithful. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child[a] when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised (Hebrews 11:11).
If you continue to read Psalms 78, you will see other ways that the children of Israel limited God. They did so by their disobedience (v. 10) and by questioning God’s ability (v. 19-21). Still today we limit God and His power working in our lives. We can do so by ignorance of His will. Unless we know God’s will, we will believe contrary to it, thinking we are perfectly inline with it due to ignorance, deception, or tradition.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children (Hosea 4:6).
We can limit God by siding with our sense knowledge instead of the revelation knowledge that comes from knowing and living the Word of God. Peter himself did this.
‘And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,[b] he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:26-31)”’
The Apostle Peter limited what Jesus wanted to do for him by looking at the surrounding circumstances and we do the same thing today. Sure, it’s not the wind and water. It’s the doctor’s report that says we have this disease or that disease. It’s the bank account that says we don’t have enough money to pay the bills this month. It’s the people at work that say things have to be this way and there’s no changing it. While all the time Jesus is saying He is your healer, He is your provider, He is your source. And yet we look at the outside circumstances instead of the Word of God.
We limit God in other ways as well. We do it through our small thinking, like the 10 spies did when they went into the Promised Land. Although Caleb and Joshua saw the land and saw it through the promises of God, the other spies could not get past their small thinking and look at outside circumstances instead of the promise of God. We limit God through fear. The ruler of the synagogue was told by Jesus not to fear, but only believe, when his daughter was reported as being dead (Matthew 5:36). He believed Jesus and she lived. But just think if he would not have believed in Jesus – she would have stayed dead. We limit God by not being a doer of the Word and only being a hearer. We do it by walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17). We do it by not walking in the authority that Christ gave us (Luke 10:19) and we do it through our pride (James 4:6).
You see, many people have this idea that everything that happens is God’s will. If He wants someone healed, He will heal them. If they are destined to die, then nothing can change that. If God wants someone to be prosperous, He’ll make them prosperous. We don’t have anything to do with it. That is all a lie perpetrated by the devil.
Sadly, many who believe this lie are not just non-believers in Christ, they are Christians as well. It is one thing for non-Christians, who haven’t even cracked a Bible before, to have this false belief that God and Christ are one way, but it is another for Christians that have the Word of God. We as Christians can not judge the ways of God by experience as many non-believers do. We must judge everything by the Word of God, not our experience.
Just because God is sovereign, that doesn’t mean that everything that happens on earth is His will. After all, Satan is the god of this world, not the Lord. If everything that happens in the world is God’s will, then wouldn’t you hate to see Heaven? No. God is sovereign, but not everything happens is His will. We can – as we’ve seen through scripture, not experience or our senses – limit God. However, just because we can limit God, that doesn’t mean we have to. This is why it is important to be a student of the Word of God. If we we abide in the Word of God, and the Word abides in us, we can ask anything we want, and it shall be done for us. And when that happens, we won’t limit God.