Romans 9:19-29 How Can God Condemn If I Was Born This Way?

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
    and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.”29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
    we would have been like Sodom
    and become like Gomorrah.”

How Can God Condemn If I Was Born This Way?

Paul turns at this point to the person who complains that God has no right to condemn.  God is the creator of all things and has mandated how the world will be.  How can he then condemn the world?  Some things are made to bring great glory to God and other things are not.  However, Paul’s argument turns to the relationship between a creator and his creation. Using logic, he argues that all people know that a creator has rights over his creation.  If the creator destroys or lifts up his or her own creation it is up to them.  It is their right.

The argument becomes much more grave when it turns to men and women.  We are the creation of God and so he has the right to do with us as he wishes.  If God were to create people with the idea that they would be destroyed, he would be justified.  If God created people to give them eternal life, it is his right.  This does not sit well with us.  The rights of a god to dispose of sentient beings in whatever way he chooses seems repugnant to many.  However, we are not God.  We did not create the system.  We do not know completely how the system works.  God’s system shows his grandeur and greatness.  It was not designed to exalt us but him.

the emphasis in the passage is that God has the right to bring good.  He can take a bad situation and turn it around.  Justice would demand destruction of all people because of God’s goodness and our own evil hearts.  God doesn’t do that.  He chose Abraham to be a light to the world.  He chose Israel to shine among the nations.  Then he chose Jesus to be the light of the world.  Through Jesus’ work of reconciliation, God chose all of us who are his.

Prayer

Thank you for exercising your sovereign will to reach into a dark world and flood it with light.  Thank you that you chose a nation to be your instrument.  May all those of us who know that you have taken a hold of us move in a way to glorify you.

Questions

  1. What rhetorical questions does Paul think people who are opposed to God will ask?
  2. How does Paul defeat these questions?
  3. Why does Paul argue that God has the right as creator to select whomever he chooses?
  4. Why do some people think that God has no right to condemn them today?
  5. How would you answer someone who thinks that no-one is chosen by God?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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