Reconciling God’s will to transform hearts, World evil and free will

Hello RZIM family,
Help me reconcile something please. As I read the Old Testament I see proof of what Jesus speaks in Matthew 9 about evil existing so that the glory of God can be revealed. God would harden the pharaoh’s heart. God is the only one that can transform hearts. We still need to go out and share the good news with non believers. When we approach our loved ones and they don’t listen, is it because God has hardened their hearts? When God saved me from the new age (Praise the Lord!) I know He called me, even though I have free will. That´s on one hand. On the other hand, I heard on a podcast that if God was to wipe all evil from the world he would have to wipe us all with it because we have wicked hearts. But we go back to, why would it be necessary to wipe us all if he can change our hearts? If He did, does that mean we become robots that chose only good without free will? He changed my heart and I surrendered my life to Him. I don’t feel like a robot that chooses him because he called me to follow him. How can you help me clarify this for myself and so that I can explain this properly to others? Thanks in advance

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@Jenny_Cerna Great question :slight_smile: How you answer this issue really does depend on your view of whether or not humans are free to choose God. The way I look at it is this: when we choose to let Jesus into our heart, He transforms our heart. Once we have a new heart, we seek and love God because of what God has done in us. We are not robots, but we also will not turn back to evil because of the work God has done inside of us.

The reason people say that if God destroyed all evil He would have to destroy all of us is to remind us to be humble. When asked what was wrong with the world, G. K. Chesterton said, “I am wrong with the world”. We each fall short, so when people wish God would do away with all evil, they forget that there is also evil in their own life. They are justifying themselves while condemning others. Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children…” Our standard of evil is not the same as God’s standard - we humans tend to overlook our own sin while condemning sin in others.

You may find the following discussions helpful. Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

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Hi Sean,
Great food for thought! Thank you for taking time to reply. And for recommending the book, I have added it to amazon wish list :slight_smile: it is true that being saved does not mean evil has been wiped of my heart. It just means we accept we are sinners and we need a savior, and now when we sin it hurts instead of being pleasurable. God was patient with me while I had so many idols before Him. I shall be patient with the people in my life and continue to pray that they will someday allow the Lord in their hearts. After all, we don’t have to understand everything right? We just have to trust and hope and that trust and hope is fueled by the presence of God we feel in our hearts. Our faith is not blind. God bless you, and thanks again.

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@Jenny_Cerna Indeed - let us continue to pray for those who are lost! One nuance I might add is that as Christians we are set apart for God in Christ Jesus, so the Bible would not use the language of ‘sinner’ for those who are walking with God, even though we do still struggle with sin. Sure thing :slight_smile:

If you’re a Christian you are not a sinner. You’re a saint. Not a holier than thou saint or an I’m better than you saint, but an I’m purchased by the blood of Jesus and not yet there but chasing after the righteousness He has declared over me saint. A saint who recognizes their own imperfection but longs for more of Jesus, more of holiness, more of obedience, more of the image of Christ in me - a saint who crucifies his flesh and opens his heart to the sanctifying grace of Jesus, yet does not judge others. A saint who obeys out of love because God has loved them and forgives others as they have been forgiven.

“Just a sinner saved by grace” is only half the gospel. It’s true that in Christ, God has wiped the slate clean and has forgiven us our sins. But let’s make sure we don’t leave out the flip side – that not only does He forgive our sins, but He also regenerates us through the power of His Spirit. God is restoring our relationship to Him. He is living within us.

Interesting. Thank you!! Clear on not calling myself a sinner. Clear on the fact that I still may sin and need to keep repenting, confessing, asking for forgiveness and following Jesus. Where in scripture does it say I’m a saint but not a perfect one? Maybe I am more comfortable calling myself a believer, I don’t feel like an imperfect saint that feels like a higher title somehow…hmm

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@Jenny_Cerna As is noted in the below article, we are called “saints” over and over and over throughout the New Testament. The word simply means “set apart for God”. Even in the Old Testament, God told the Israelites “You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.” (Deut 14:2) The assumption throughout Scripture is that God’s people obey Him and walk in the light as He is in the light.

1 Peter 2:9-10 - But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios , which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious." It is almost always used in the plural, “saints.” “…Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13). “Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda” (Acts 9:32). "And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons …“ (Acts 26:10). There is only one instance of the singular use, and that is “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:21). In Scripture there are 67 uses of the plural “saints” compared to only one use of the singular word “saint.” Even in that one instance, a plurality of saints is in view: “…every saint…” (Philippians 4:21).

The idea of the word “saints” is a group of people set apart for the Lord and His kingdom. There are three references referring to godly character of saints: “that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints …” (Romans 16:2). “For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Ephesians 5:3).

Jenny, it’s great that you are thinking these things through so much! When I read your post I sat back and just said, “Whew! I’d be confused too!” Thankfully we have each other to turn to to help us out if these tangles of information. I won’t add anything to what @SeanO said as far as answering your question. He did a great job! God bless you as you learn more about who He is and His purpose in our lives. It’s a wonderful discover as it slowly unfolds. :slight_smile:

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@Jenny_Cerna Just to clarify, I understand why you may be hesitant to call yourself a saint, given that in our culture it can imply someone who thinks they are “holier than thou”. It is unfortunate that we have lost the Biblical meaning of this word in modern culture. So while we are in fact saints, I agree it may not be a great idea to go around telling other people that we are “saints” because it might not communicate what we intend :slight_smile:

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@SeanO Thank you again for taking time to respond. You are a blessing !

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