Have you ever heard someone ask the question, “is there anything God can’t do?” The scriptures tell us the answer to that question is “yes.” There are several verses in the scriptures that indicate things that would cause God to “cease to be God.” In this article I will try to explore those things and share a few thoughts on eternal laws that bind God. Not only do these things govern our lives, but they govern God’s as well.
Our take-off verse for this discussion is again, D&C 88:78.
Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
Law is always foundational. In the United States, the Constitution declares itself the “supreme law of the land” (Article 6, Clause 2). Nothing supersedes it. If anything comes into conflict with it from a lower law, an appeal to the constitution is supposed to be the measure upon which other laws are brought into proper order.
Laws define the boundary between right and wrong, and righteousness and sin. Laws are mandatory, and when one is judged by the law, justice must have it’s due, and penalties must be enforced.
Similarly, there is an “eternal constitution” that is supreme. Not even God can violate those laws or the penalty would be that he would cease to be God.
Recall the diagram we’ve been working with the last few weeks.
Laws govern all life in all of creation. They dictate the doctrines and principles that God teaches us in order to conform with so that we learn to become like him.
“…I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.” – D&C 82:9
An understanding of these eternal laws helps us better understand the framework God operates within for his own continued exaltation. He walks a razor’s edge, perfectly obedient and if he should slip and violate an eternal law, he would cease to be God.
We cannot have an all powerful being that has evil inclinations. Even though Satan possesses great power by his knowledge and priesthood, God’s power is supreme and he maintains that power by his perfect obedience to eternal law. We do not know all the laws of eternity, but we have a glimpse into some of them as found in the scriptures.
For this study topic, we’re going to set up a few collection notes and then you can spend the time you want to study them. We will be creating a tag with sub-tags for each of these laws as found in the scriptures. When we are done you will have a segment that looks like this in your tag tree.
This is a foundational concept to understand as we examine things God cannot do.
Open a reading pane in your scripture notes app and go to Doctrine & Covenants 29:36. Click the top right icon to the side to create a collection note using this verse. Title it “God’s power comes from his honor” and tag it “God cannot” and “Eternal law”. In the master note area, copy/paste this paragraph or modify it with your own thoughts. Alternatively, you could add this directly into the verse note for D&C 29:36.
When God gives us a commandment, it’s to help us become like He is. Commandments are acts of self-control that bring us into alignment with the Holy Spirit and eternal law. If we can’t control ourselves here in mortality with these commandments, we can’t learn to live the principles perfectly to be like God. For example, imagine for a moment an all powerful being that was covetous… He could take anything he wanted without regard for anyone else’s property. Imagine an all powerful being that was a murderer and had no morality… Without righteousness, God would cease to be God because the scriptures inform us, his power comes from his honor and this would dishonor him to behave contrary to the laws of righteousness.
Open a search pane in Scripture Notes and do this search with quote marks.
"cease to be God"
This search produces 4 verses that we will start with.
Remove Mormon 9:19 from the search results by clicking on the minus button next to it (we’ll catch it in the next search). Now create a collection note (CN) from the search panel to add the 3 remaining verses in Alma to its own note.
Title this first note “God cannot destroy the work of justice” and in the tag field, type this exactly:
God cannot:Destroy justice
Don’t put a space on either side of the colon. This will create a tag with a sub-tag like:
Also give it a tag of “Eternal law”. When we are done you will have several subtags under the main tag.
Now open a reading pane and add D&C 19:15-18; D&C 82:4, D&C 107:84 and D&C 109:77 to this CN by dragging them in. Copy/paste this next paragraph into the master note or study the topic and make your own note. Of course you could add many other verses but these will get you started.
The work of justice cannot be destroyed by mercy. There are eternal laws which when we violate them, the punishment is predetermined. If God overturns those punishments relying on his mercy, without repentance on the part of the sinner, he is essentially playing favorites and would lose his honor among his creations. His honor is the source of his power (D&C 29:36). God must be consistent in the application of eternal law and not be a respecter of persons so individuals must repent to be forgiven, or else suffer the penalties attached to the sins committed.
In a search pane do a search for:
(yesterday and (today or "to day")) or unchang*
Remove Exodus 5:14, 1 Samuel 20:27, Hebrews 7:24, D&C 88:133, and D&C 121:46.
Create a CN and title it “God is unchangeable” and tag it “God cannot:Change” and “Eternal law” without a space around the colon.
Add other scriptures that teach God is unchanging: Psalms 90:2; Psalms 102:27; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Revelation 1:8; D&C 82:10
Then add this note in the master note, or else your own note from studying the topic.
If God was a God of miracles anciently, he must perform miracles now. He cannot act as God in one age of time differently than another. People often think of the God of the Old Testament as different from Jesus Christ in the New Testament. They are the same merciful and just, miracle performing God. He does not change.
In a search pane do this search.
God and (truth or lie or liar)
This produces 133 results. You may want to go through the whole list and eliminate irrelevant verses, or just find one of the verses below and make a CN from it and then drag and drop the other verses into the CN. Title this note “God is a God of truth and cannot lie” and tag it “God cannot:Lie” and “Eternal law” then save it.
Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Romans 3:4, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18; 1 John 1:10, 1 John 5:10, 1 Nephi 13:24-25; 2 Nephi 1:26; 2 Nephi 2:10; 2 Nephi 28:28; Jacob 4:13; Enos 1:6; Alma 9:26; D&C 84:102; D&C 93:26; D&C 93:36; D&C 109:77; Moses 1:6
Put this in the master note or type your own.
We have to be able to rely on God’s words to us. If God could lie, we could never have confidence in the scriptures or any of his declarations and our salvation would always be in question. We would not be able to rely on his promises and thus never exercise faith.
Do a search for:
Remove D&C 64:18 and then create a CN from the results.
Title the note “God cannot violate our agency” and tag it “God cannot:Violate agency”. Use this for the master note or create your own.
Agency is an eternal law. God cannot use force to compel the salvation of any of his children. We are free to choose and must live with the consequences of our actions even when those consequences deeply sadden our Father in Heaven.
Understanding that laws bind God helps us know that we can rely completely on his promises in scripture. Knowing God is unchanging lets us rely on the doctrine of gifts of the Spirit and be able to seek them with confidence based on the principles that govern those gifts. When we put the theory into practice, the “if/then” operators of eternal law kick in and God is bound (D&C 82:10) to bless us with those gifts.
20. There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21. And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
Eternal laws govern all the blessings of salvation and exaltation. Compliance to those laws by understanding the doctrines, relying on the principles, and living the theory of the gospel, will provide us the perfect path back to our Heavenly Father and receive the gift of eternal life (D&C 14:7), which is God’s life.
(Featured image by Sebastian Duda @123rf.com)
The Doctrine of Christ and other Doctrines of the Gospel
Instructed More Perfectly in Theory, Principle, Doctrine, and Law
Our Duty as Children of Light
Scripture Study Technique 11 – Lists and Patterns
Scripture Study Technique 10: Deductive & Inductive Study
Are the Three Degrees of Glory Mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Yes