“This is a faithful saying … If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” 2 Timothy 2:11, 13
Paul encourages Timothy and all of us to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v 1) through faith in who Jesus is. There will be reward for remaining faithful. Paul gives the examples of a soldier, an athlete and a farmer to show that God is faithful. But even if we are not faithful God remains faithful. Why is this? It is because God and all His creatures are true to kind. God cannot act contrary to who He is and that is a foundation stone of true Christian faith.
The Bible reveals two things that God cannot do: God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) and God cannot act contrary to His Divine Nature (2 Timothy 2:13).
In an attempt to reduce penalty or even avoid penalty the defence of an accused may call witnesses to demonstrate that the actions of the accused were “out of character”. This is wholly untrue. All of God’s creatures act absolutely according to what they are. We all act exactly according to what we are. The natural person is always in rebellion against God and can do nothing but sin. The problem is not what we do but what we are. What we do is the outworking of what we are. A person may be able to suppress behaviour but they cannot change what they are. “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).
Sinful thoughts, words and deeds are the symptoms of what we are. As in the case of one before a judge we may try to escape penalty by claiming otherwise but God will not be deceived. We are sinners and there is no remedy until we admit that we are sinners by nature. We cannot change what we are. At best we may be able to change some aspects of our behaviour but that will never make us compatible with God.
God is holy; God is undefiled; God is without sin; God is love; God is righteous and just; God cannot deny who He is and if we are to come into His presence and have communion with Him then what we are must be changed. We cannot change what we are. This is why Jesus makes the emphatic statement that “you must be born again” (John 3:3). This is not a command but a statement of fact. To have communion with God we must have the same nature. This is only possible by way of a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 6:15) through which we are made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).
When Jesus died on the cross He took our sin nature to death as well as the penalty for sin acts. In His resurrection He opened the door for a new life (Ephesians 2:10). The Gospel of Christ reveals God’s remedy for the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) but also the remedy for what we are. Jesus’ resurrection necessitated His death on the cross; for us to live the resurrection life we must die to self.
God cannot change who and what He is. He is holy and without sin. If anyone is to come into His presence it is they who must be changed. Only Jesus Christ is able to do that for He alone bore our sin and rose again.