Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 9

God wants to help us, but we cannot control him

Romans 9:16

People like to think that they are in control of their own lives. By their actions, or by their own desires, they hope to achieve whatever they want.

Some people show those same attitudes even during prayer; and that is very wrong. We must never imagine that we can control God. We certainly cannot force him to do what we want.

However, God does very much want to help us. He is eager to forgive us, although we may have done many wrong and evil things (Ezekiel 18:31-32). It is his nature to show kindness (Exodus 34:6-7). It is his desire to save (rescue) even his enemies. That is why Christ died: to take upon himself the punishment for our evil deeds (Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 5:6-10).

God offers his kindness to us as a free gift (Isaiah 55:1-7; Matthew 11:28-30). Therefore, it is impossible for us to earn Godís kindness by our own efforts (4:4-6). He offers to forgive us, although as sinners (people who do wrong things) we do not deserve it (3:23; 6:23). He offers us a right relationship with him, although we were his enemies (5:6-10). He offers us a life without end, although we deserve only death because of our evil deeds (6:23). We can earn none of these good things; but we can receive them all as a free gift, because of Christís death.

In Luke 18:9-14, two men went to pray. However, only one man was ready to ask God humbly to change his life. In John 1:10-13, Christ came to the world that he made. However, only some of the people were willing to invite him into their lives. When we pray to God, we must allow him to work in our lives. God does not answer our prayers because of our strong desires, our hard effort or our good works. He does it because of his great kindness.

Next part: God can use even our wrong attitudes for his honour (Romans 9:17)


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© 2018, Keith Simons.