Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 9

God's mercy and people's hard hearts

Romans 9:18

ĎTo have mercyí means to show kindness towards someone, and therefore to help that person. In the Bible, it refers especially to Godís kindness when he forgives someone. That person had offended against Godís law, and he deserved only Godís judgement against him. However, God, in his great love, sent Christ to suffer the punishment for that personís evil deeds (5:6-10). In addition, God has placed his Spirit in that personís life (8:9); and he is adopting that person as his child (8:14-19). That person will always live with God, in heaven and the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-7).

God does all this for a person because, in his great kindness, he desires to do it. He wants to save (rescue) even wicked people (Ezekiel 18:27-32). However, God cannot save a person who refuses to repent. To Ďrepentí means to turn from evil deeds and to invite God into your life.

The Bible calls the attitude of someone who is completely unwilling to obey God: Ďa hard heartí. Usually, a person makes their own heart hard, by their evil thoughts. However, sometimes God allows such attitudes to take control of a personís life, as an act of judgement. It is as if that person has become a slave to their own wrong attitudes. Unless God shows great mercy to that person, the person will be completely unable to turn to God.

Godís plan in this world is to save his people, to defeat every evil power, and to establish his rule. It is very sad that, in their efforts to oppose God or his people, some people become completely wicked. However, their evil schemes cannot defeat God. He can even bring about good things from such circumstances (8:28). That was what happened to Pharaoh (9:17). God permitted Pharaohís heart to become hard so that God could show his power.

Next part: Paul's reply to someone who complains about God's judgements (Romans 9:19-20)


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© 2018, Keith Simons.