“Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and who He wills He hardens.” Romans 9:18
This scripture, along with God hardening the heart of Pharoah, was the subject of conversation this weekend with a friend. We were trying to understand why God would harden someone’s heart when the Bible tells us of His mercy. Where is the mercy when He hardens someone’s heart?
We know God wants to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11). We know the Lord “…has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. So do we now have to fear He may give us a hard heart? Absolutely not! The same sun that melts wax is the same sun that hardens clay. The same God that softens a humble heart is the same God that hardens a stubborn, rebellious heart. In other words, it has to do with the condition of the heart. Accepting Jesus into our heart is what will soften our heart. Refusing the Lord, His Gospel and the fact that it is His mercy that has allowed us the life we live today, will only harden our heart. God will soften or harden our heart depending on the condition of our heart. Is our heart like wax – humble? Or is our heart like clay – stubborn? It is our free will, that the Lord gave us, which determines the condition of heart.
The same applies to 2 Corinthians 2:16, “To the one we (ministers of the Gospel) are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to Life…”. The Gospel of Jesus Christ saves the saints and condemns the sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God and we all sin. However, for the ones who accept the Good News of the Gospel, Jesus Christ has saved us. The Lord has reconciled us. For the ones who reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are condemned by the god of this world, satan. Jesus died for the sins off all, for the sinners and the saints, for the saved and unsaved. The Gospel divides good from evil. “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.” Luke 12:51. Christ is not the cause of division but rather the rebellion against the the event of the Gospel brings division. Jesus Himself IS love perfected. The acceptance or rejection of the Lord’s finished work on the Cross, the Gospel, is what softens or hardens our heart.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. Until we repent of our stubbornness and rebellion, not accepting the promises of God only come through God’s plan of salvation – Jesus, we continue to walk in the dark. As we walk further and further away from the light, the promises seem further and further away. As the promises seem to fade and hope becomes despair, our hearts become hardened. The smell of a Christian begins to stink. Christians are perceived as the self righteous and judgemental.
So the final assessment is this – when you hear the Gospel of Jesus, how does your heart react? Does your heart soften and you want more? Or does your heart harden and you want to get away from the conversation as smoothly and quickly possible? Think about this. A Christian is always ready to talk about Jesus. We can’t wait to testify of the Lord! However, I remember before I was saved if someone brought up Jesus, I would begin to squirm. I had knowledge of Jesus, but He was not in my heart yet. I’m telling you I could not get away from a Christian fast enough when they were talking about Jesus. Shameful but true.
The Gospel of Jesus assesses your heart. Our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, will separate His sheep from the goats. I ask you today to take a sincere look at your heart. I pray we all keep a humble heart and not allow the self wills of our flesh to rebel. I thank God for His patience with me. I praise Him for melting my heart like wax once I understood my rebellion and stubbornness. Is the Gospel of Jesus melting your heart or hardening your heart? – Donna Warren