Romans 9:18


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. Romans 9:18

This verse is as clear a statement as one can find concerning God’s sovereignty. However, even  in this verse debate arises as to what it exactly means. Some believe it means that God actively hardens some and actively saves others. This is known as double-predestination. In essence, God created some to be condemned and He created some to be saved. Apart from this truly unbiblical concept of double-predestination there are several other opinions about what actually occurs concerning God’s election of people. This is all discussed in detail in the analysis of 8:29.

We know from James 1:13, 14, that God is not the one who leads others into committing evil. Those verses state, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”

So how can Romans 9:18 be squared with this? The answer is that “hardens” is being tied to the preceding verse about Pharaoh. To “harden” is not the exertion of a positive influence, such as adding hardener to resin to make it a solid. Another good example would be the heart itself, but in a physical, not spiritual way. We could say God literally and actively hardened our heart, calcifying it and clogging up our arteries, or we could say that God passively hardened our hearts by allowing us to eat the wrong foods and live a lethargic and couch-potato type existence.

The second example is equivalent to what God did in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. God molded us as individuals, giving us predispositions to certain things as He saw fit. However, those predispositions don’t in anyway negate our responsibility as individuals. We may be predisposed to eating foods that taste good but which are not healthy. We may be predisposed to idleness because of our genetic makeup too. But ultimately, we are responsible to get up, live right, and eat a healthy diet.

Pharaoh was left to make his own decisions after he was molded and shaped into the time and the moment when the decision would be made. The choice was still His and by making his choices, his heart was hardened. We too have our hearts hardened as we reject God’s intent for us.

Life application: Are you predisposed to a certain type of sin? Maybe drunkenness, homosexuality, or some other sin? If so, God has already shown you that these types of behavior are wrong. He does not force you to do these things. Rather, they are volitional acts of the will. Just because one has a predisposition to a particular sin doesn’t mean they must act on it. However, in today’s world, we are taught that acting on our impulses is ok. It is not and we will be held accountable for our actions. In judgment, we will have no right to question the decisions God renders.

Heavenly Father, those things that I struggle with, the sins that I have a predisposition to commit, are difficult for me to face. However, I know that You provide more grace. Because this is true, I can overcome my weaknesses and live as You would expect of me. I know this is true and that You will change me as I seek after You. Thank You for this assurance. Amen.

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