Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Paul’s argument to this point brings up another counterpoint in the minds of His readers: So how can God blame us for anything since He’s the one in charge of everything? If the big decisions are already made, what say do we have in it? It’s the kind of question that shows how wrong the objectors were about their expectations.
Paul doesn’t answer like we might expect, he never attempts to resolve the fundamental tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Instead Paul’s “answer” in v. 20 is not really an answer but a rebuke to those who would make God answerable to humans. Paul reprimands the disrespect of any one who dares to find fault with his Creator. It is Humanity that is subordinate to God it’s not the other way around. Think about the finiteness of humanity. It doesn’t take us long to realize that we are loaded down with sin, ignorance, and weakness, and in reality, we’re in no position to talk back to God or question the wisdom or justice of His ways. I believe this is the point Paul is making here.
Paul then draws from the Prophet Isaiah as he pictures the absurdity of the clay questioning the right of the potter to make of the lump whatever he wants (Isa 29:16; 45:9). Now this is a metaphor, remember that metaphors are illustrations, they have their limits, but they are helpful in helping us to grasp certain concepts. In the Old Testament there are several times when the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, as well as Job, used the metaphor of the potter’s total control over the shaping, reshaping, and purpose of his clay creations to emphasize God’s sovereignty over His creation. Essentially Paul is asking his readers: does not the potter have authority over the clay? Is it not his to mold into anything he chooses? Certainly he is free to make from the same lump of clay either an ornamental vessel or one for menial use. His questions cuts right to the heart of the issue: is God sovereign? He is either all powerful and in complete control or He’s not. The only reasonable conclusion is that God does exercise His absolute power in an unqualified sense.
Think about where you come down on the reality of God’s sovereignty. Put yourself in the place of Paul’s readers. I think when one considers God’s sovereignty; you can’t help but think, “Is this fair?” We want everything packed nicely together, but with God’s sovereignty and our own responsibility, along with our limited capacity to understand, we’re incapable of rectifying the two truths we find in God’s word. But rather than be undone by the mysteries of God, we should stand in wonder of the majesty of God.
Know this: The Biblical truths involved in God’s sovereign purpose and control of His universe should lead us to a greater appreciation of God Himself. The more we meditate on these things, the more we can picture His loving concern, wisdom, holiness, and greatness.
So make it your goal today to spend time thinking about the greatness of God.
*From what you have just read and considered, what is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live out this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the Good News today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest; Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding, for leading (God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2, Keller, Timothy.