What Are the Limitations of a Sinner?

Chris Swanson

Contributing Writer
Updated Feb 09, 2024
What Are the Limitations of a Sinner?

What are the things that a sinner cannot do? Have you ever thought about that? A sinner chooses to do whatever they want to do, to live how they want to live, but there are some things that a sinner cannot do.

Brought to you by Christianity.com

Have you ever wondered if there is anything that a sinner cannot do? We know that humankind has free will and that humans can choose to do or choose not to do this or that.

A Christian is a person who has let Jesus Christ into their heart. A Christian is a person who has chosen Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their life. A Christian is a person who follows the leadership of the Holy Spirit in all aspects of their life and strives to live a life that is pleasing unto God.

But what about a sinner? A sinner is a person who has chosen to turn away from God. A sinner is a person that does what they want to do regardless of the consequences of the outcome of their eternal soul. There is a myriad of sinful worldly choices that the sinner has before them to choose from. In other words, anything contrary to God’s Word is sin. Knowing to do good and not doing it is a sin (James 4:17).

But what are the things that a sinner cannot do? Have you ever thought about that? A sinner chooses to do whatever they want to do, to live how they want to live, but there are some things that a sinner cannot do.

I want us to take a few moments to review some things a sinner cannot do.

A sinner cannot reverse God’s actions.

“I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord” (Numbers 22:18). 

A new generation of Israelites stood at the border of the Promised Land, ready to enter it after the old generation had passed away. Nonetheless, adjoining countries had made Israel revere and worship other divine beings. Balak had asked the prophet Balaam to curse Israel.

Balak had sent his servants to Balaam to ask him to curse the children of Israel, and he would give him rewards. God told Balaam not to go with these men, but what did Balaam do? He tells the servants that the Lord told him not to go with them. So, Balak sends what seems to be a better offer than before. But Balaam responds again that he cannot go against God’s Word.

The story does not end here because Balaam makes a contrary decision, which does not bode well for him. But I want us to look at those few words: “I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord.” Regardless of what humanity thinks, believes, or feels, we cannot go against God’s Word. To go against God, the Father will result in chastisement and punishment. To go against the Word of the Lord is to bring the wrath of God upon us in some form or fashion.  

A sinner is unable to find God on his own.

“I cannot perceive Him…I cannot behold him…I cannot see him” (Job 23:8-9). 

We all have heard the story of Job, of how, through no fault of his own, he lost everything he had: his children, his health, and his money. His friends thought he had brought this to himself due to some unconfessed sin. Even his wife told him to curse God and die.

In this Scripture, Job laments that he could not find God however he wanted. The job was saying that it seemed as if God was keeping away from him. Notwithstanding, he communicated certainty that God knew everything about his circumstances and would deliver him (Job 23:10).

There is nothing that can satisfy our soul like God. We should keep David's prayer in mind whenever we feel alone or need something that will last. Only God can fulfill our deepest needs (Psalm 63:1-5). 

A sinner cannot provide for what is inadequate or missing.

“That which is crooked cannot be made straight… and that which is wanting cannot be numbered” (Ecclesiastes 1:15). 

The experiences of life are not always pleasant. However, the world advises us to seek joy, give our best to accomplish it, and make individual fulfillment our central objective. Solomon, expounding on his own life, found that his riches, influence, position, spouses, and achievements did not satisfy him. Due to the rapid changes in people and circumstances, happiness is elusive. 

Pleasing God leads to true and lasting happiness. As a result, happiness cannot be attained. However, only a relationship with God can bring happiness because only God knows what is best for us. Assuming we are pursuing happiness, we will not find it. We will never run out of joy if we seek God first. 

A sinner cannot please God.

“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8). 

Paul divides people into two groups: those who allow their sinful natures to control them and those who follow the Holy Spirit. To have a mindset that is controlled by one's sinful nature is to be carnally minded. We would fall into the first group if Jesus had not provided us with a solution. Because following Jesus leads to life and serenity, once we have accepted Him, we will desire to keep doing so.

We are to consciously choose to place God at the center of our lives every day. We can find God’s instructions in the Bible and must adhere to them. “What would Jesus want me to do?” should be the question we ask ourselves in every circumstance. We ought to enthusiastically act when the Holy Spirit shows us what is right (Romans 6:6- 8; Ephesians 4:22- 24; Colossians 3:3- 15).

A sinner cannot see or enter God’s Kingdom.

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God... Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3-5). 

What was Nicodemus’ understanding of the Kingdom? From the sacred writings, it would be governed by God, reestablished here on the planet, and integrated with God’s people. Nicodemus, a devout Pharisee, was told by Jesus that the Kingdom would come to the entire world (John 3:16), not just the Jews. If Nicodemus had not been born again, he would not have been involved. This was something new, never heard of, the Kingdom being personal and not ethnic or national. To enter requires one to repent and to be spiritually reborn. Later, Jesus taught that believers’ hearts already bear witness to the beginnings of God’s Kingdom. When Jesus returns to judge the world and eradicate evil forever, it will be fully realized (Revelation 21:22). 

A sinner cannot follow where Christ goes. 

“Whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21-22). 

Jesus warns the religious leaders of the coming judgment. Previously, Jesus had been instructing the people, and the Pharisees had sent guards to arrest Him (John 7:32). The guards, on the other hand, returned empty-handed, recalling Jesus’ profound words (John 7:45-46). Jesus’ remarks about leaving to a place where others could not follow Him partially puzzled those men (John 7:33-36). In the same way, Jesus tells the Pharisees that He will be going somewhere they cannot go.

This may have given the religious leaders hope that Jesus intended to leave Jerusalem, like in His previous remarks. Jesus, on the other hand, condemns the Pharisees for their lack of faith in this instance. Their opportunity to accept Christ would end eventually, and despite their efforts to find Him, they would be condemned for their sins. In the future, Jesus will reaffirm this point by stating to those who reject Him that their spiritual stubbornness will result in their death (John 8:24).

A sinner cannot cross the chasm that separates the saved from the lost in the afterlife.

“There is a great gulf fixed…they that would pass cannot” (Luke 16:26).

In Luke 16:19-31, we read the story of Lazarus and the rich man. This story gives an outline of man's useless endeavor to legitimize himself. While Lazarus was ill and lying at the gates of his property, the wealthy man lived in opulence. Lazarus would not be helped in any way by the wealthy man. When the time came, both men passed away, Lazarus in heaven and the wealthy man in hell. We read that while the rich man was in hell, he was yet narcissistic and egocentric, shouting out for help and consideration. He even requested somebody to go to his five siblings and caution them.

In a sense, he was saying that he would not have ended up in that situation if he had been adequately warned. However, Abraham corrected him by stating how they would listen to a dead person if they did not listen to Moses and the prophets. What the rich man required was to listen better with his ears, not a clearer advance notice. The wealthy man attempted to justify himself, but he was his problem.

What do we learn from this?

Although there are many things that a sinner cannot do, there are a few things a sinner can do.

  • A sinner can confess his sins and call upon the Lord (Romans 10:9-13). 
  • A sinner can repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). 
  • A sinner can believe in the Lord and be saved (John 3:16- 17; Acts 16:30- 31; Mark 16:16; John 20:31).
  • It is your choice to be a sinner who cannot be without or to accept Christ as your personal Savior and have everlasting life.

Photo Credit: Elijah Hiett/Unsplash

Chris SwansonChris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. He is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service. You can check out his work here.

This article originally appeared on Christianity.com. For more faith-building resources, visit Christianity.com. Christianity.com