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Did God harden Pharaoh’s heart and made him unwilling to release Moses and the Israelites even when he had intended to? And Did He do it so that His name might be proclaimed to the world and that His powers might be made manifest through Pharaoh? (Ex 7:3-4) Did God also dulled the hearts of the Israelites, blinded their eyes, and covered their ears; so that in spite of all the miracles Jesus had performed before them, and having heard such great truths and mysteries, they remain incapable of coming to faith in Jesus? All because God had blinded their hearts so that they would reject the gospel and allow the gospel to be brought to the gentiles? (Ro 11:7-11)

But before we go any further into the discussion of ‘God’s hardening of hearts,’ let us spend some time to familiarise ourselves with the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer. This will help us to better understand what is ‘God’s hardening of hearts’ all about.

The Holy Spirit has already been at work, even during the time of the Old Testament, participating in the creation of the world (Ge 1:2), giving various talents in the building of the tabernacle (Ex 31:2-5), indwelling God’s servants, empowering them with the strength to accomplish His will (Ps 51:11), and in transpiring the Old Testament (2Ti 3:16).

At the time of the New Testament, after Jesus had accomplished salvation plan, the Holy Spirit was sent by God as a comforter to indwell believers. The Spirit started giving various gifts to believers necessary in the building of the church (1Co 12:4-11), leading us to the understanding of all spiritual truths (Jn 16:13), and in doing the will of the Heavenly Father (Phil 2:13).

In the book of Acts, chapter 4, accounts an incident where Peter and John were threatened by the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law against preaching in the name of Jesus. Therefore the disciples came together to pray, pleading that the Lord would grant them the strength to speak forth the gospel of Christ boldly without fear. After their prayer, the ground shook and the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and they started preaching the word of God mightily. Peter and John were mere unschooled fishermen, where did they receive the courage from such that they could stand up to testify before the highly respectable rulers and leaders? It was the empowering of the Spirit that enabled them to do so, where without, they would fail if they were to depend upon their own strength to testify before these people. Not only with Peter and John, without the Spirit to grant the disciples the courage to proclaim the word of God, the spread of the gospel would surely have ceased.

Although the powers of the Spirit are boundless, capable of enabling the disciples to accomplish the will of God, they still had the complete freedom to choose whether to obey His leading. Just as the disciples had to pray for the Spirit’s help before the Spirit could fill them. The Spirit would never act against the will of the believers by forcefully filling them, compelling them to abide by His decision. The reason why we see so many worldly Christians is because they have quenched the Spirit that had been working in their hearts (1Th 5:19), and chose to live according to their fleshly desires.