(Article for publication week of 10-13-2010 AD)
“Therefore hath he mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will, He hardeneth” (Romans 9:18).
One of the most solemn facts that we face in all of scripture is that God is not going to save everyone. God has mercy on whom He is pleased to have mercy, and the rest he rejects and hardens their hearts. The previous verse gives as a stark illustration, Pharaoh of whom God said in Exodus 7:3, “ I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.”
The first and most obvious way that God hardens sinners’ hearts is by leaving them alone. This is a dreadful truth that God leaves some sinners alone. God gives to His elect people new hearts. He takes away their heart of stone and gives them an heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). With a new heart, an elect sinner is able to repent of his sins and believe in Christ. When God takes away the heart of stone and gives an heart of flesh, that sinner is able to believe the precious gospel of Christ and understand spiritual realities. But the unregenerate, hard hearted, lost sinner cares not for the things of Christ and is unable to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). God is not obligated to give anyone a new heart. He is perfectly just in leaving sinners just as they are with a hard, unregenerate heart. It is all of His mercy that he gives any a new heart. So God hardens the reprobate’s heart by leaving him alone. And this is what you who are unconverted want; you want God to leave you alone. And so He does.
Another way God hardens sinners’ hearts is by removing providential restraints. How often we see this when children from Christian homes grow up and get on their own. Under the influence of Godly parents they were kept from much gross sins and perhaps even influenced to make a profession of faith. But then get away from home and the restraints are removed and they prove they were reprobate after all. It is a frightful thing for God to remove His restraints and let you go in the sin that you love and crave.
Also God hardens sinners’ hearts by blinding their eyes to the truth. That is right- you read right, God blinds some so they cannot see the truth. Jesus said in Matthew 11:25, “I thank Thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Romans 11:7 says, “the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Again there is no injustice with God in blinding reprobates, for they do not desire the Lord and His salvation anyway. God does you no wrong if He hides from you what you don’t want anyway.
Finally, God hardens hearts by causing the gospel to be a savour of death unto them (II Corinthians 2:16). The same gospel that softens the elect of God, hardens those that God leaves as they are. This is easily illustrated. The same sun that melts butter hardens clay. So it is with the Son of Righteousness Who arises with healing in His wings. When he arises on His children it softens them. But those that God has ordained to condemnation are hardened by the precious truth of Christ.
Poor sinner, your only hope is if God takes away your hard heart and gives you a new heart of flesh. It would be an awful thing if God left you alone and hardened your heart to your eternal damnation.