Those hardened or cut off are NOT born in this condition, but have “grown hardened” over years of rebellion , their hearts or conscience becomes dull or hardened because of continual & unrepentant sin in their lives (Acts 28:24-27, Matt. 19:8, 1 Tim.4:2, Rom.2:5, Heb 3:13).
Rom 1:20-26 “even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts . . . And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient”
Romans 2:4-6 : Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Ephesians 4:18-20 ‘Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness (Strong #G4457= callousness, blindness, hardness) of their heart: Who being past feeling (G524= cease to feel insensible) have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ;
We see two kinds of heart hardening taught in the Scripture:
1/ Self-hardening – People may harden their own hearts, because of unrepentant sin, rebellion, bitterness, pride, etc. (Ex. 9:34-35; 2 Chron. 36:13; Zech. 7:12; Dan. 5:20; Eph. 4:18; Heb. 3:12-15)
2/ God’s hardening, some call it Judicial hardening – God simply gives them over to their sin & lets them continue down their already chosen hardened path. This is God’s intervention or judgment to an already hardened or rebellious person ALWAYS to accomplish a greater redemptive purpose. This condition won’t allow them to get the full revelation of His purpose until that purpose is served. A hardened heart doesn’t let us understand spiritual truth it causes spiritual blindness, the harder the heart the more blind to God’s Truth. (Mark 6:52; 8:17). This is why God warns us NOT to harden our hearts.
But still men are very much capable of hearing, seeing and repenting when confronted by the powerful gospel truth (Acts 28:27-28). Only the Word of God has the power to cut or pierce a hardened heart (Heb. 4:12).
God’s goodness & power was displayed in mercy to unfaithful, hardened Israelites in the day of Moses & in partial & temporal hardening the unfaithful, hardened Israelites, hundreds of years later, in the time of Jesus. But only because of their rebellion & unbelief. Both times to accomplish a greater redemptive purpose.
Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. Rom. 9:15
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness (Strong #G4457= callousness, hardness) in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
The Israelites were cut off because of unbelief (Rom.11:20) and the hope of the apostle Paul is that they may be grafted back in and saved (Rom.11:11-32). But God was longsuffering still while they hardened their own hearts. (Psalms 95:8-11, Acts 19:9, etc).
Have you notice that we don’t have any more examples of God’s hardening hearts in the New Covenant that was made through faith in Jesus ? (Israelites were in the Old Covenant). Nowhere in the Scriptures does the hardening of the hearts, (Heb 3:13, Prov 28:14, 4:23) have to do with a person’s or nation’s election for salvation or hell (Rom. 11:26-31, Isaiah 63:17). On the contrary we can find many bible passages that contradict that interpretation.
How we become vessels of wrath?
Rom.9:20-22 ”Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” – (e.g Pharaoh, Egypt, Israel).
In verse 22 the verb fitted in Greek (G2675) is in the middle voice ( Vine’s expository dictionary of the New Testament ), indicating that the vessels of wrath fitted themselves for destruction. Again none of this have to do with whether or not a person or nation was chosen by God before the foundations of the world to go to heaven or hell after death.
Who is God longsuffering with ? and Why?
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of ALL men, specially of those that believe.” 1st Timothy 4:10
God patiently (longsuffering) put up with Israel even in their stubborn rebellion so as to be “cut off,” “given over” or “prepared” for the destruction they have earned (like the Edomites and Egyptians before them). And I believe the church which is in apostasy, falling away from the truth of God is next and the time is here for God’s judgment to the Church. 1 Peter 4:17
But please, let us check other verses in God’s Word about the subject of vessels to see the truth: Jer.18, & 2 Timothy 2:15-22. Remember, Romans 9 is talking about elected nation of Israel, not elected for salvation (Deut. 7:7-9), but in context (applying exegesis), for God’s service, to bring the law, the promises, the Scriptures, the Messiah. Jews new the Scriptures, so they understood Paul very well, they were familiar with the potter’s house revelation in Jeremiah:
- Jer. 18:3,7-11 – Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. . . Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame (H3335=to mould into a form as a potter, a resolution) evil (H7451= worst, bad, calamity, distress, affliction) against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
- 2 Tim:2: 19-21– And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth (clay); and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
– According to the Scriptures the responsibility for a vessel to be of honor or of wrath is not laid on God, but on the person. It is God’s justice what to do after we had made a choice, still because of His mercy He always call us to repentance before judgment.
Rom 9:30-33 “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.”
God chose salvation through faith!
For more information on Romans 9 ‘Jacob I loved, Esau I hated’ etc. & also about ‘the heart’ you can go to: