Sin as a Tool to Bestow Mercy or the Result of Man's Free Will in Turning Away from God

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Sin as a Tool to Bestow Mercy or the Result of Man's Free Will in Turning Away from God

Is sin and its consequential "hardening of heart" used as a tool through which God bestows mercy, or is it solely the result of man's free will in turning away from God? To fully understand the import of this question, we must first examine its language, and define "hardening of heart" and free will. For the purpose of this discussion, spiritual hardening of heart is the soul's inability to receive the grace of God. Thus a human is led into more and more sin, as it lacks the grace necessary to resist sin or, at times, recognize the wrongdoing as such. To the same end, free will can be defined as the ability to choose between good and evil
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While God may not have caused the initial sins, he is responsible for subsequent ones because they are the direct result of the removal of his grace. At another point in the letter (Rom 5.12-21) Paul speaks of the law, the Ten Commandments, and how as a result of such law sin itself increased because it could now be counted against a standard. However, in Paul's view, this was part of God's plan, so that through this accounting he could overflow his grace and mercy all the more. He cites that from the time of Adam, the first sin, through the time of Moses, death and hardness of heart reigned even over those who did not sin, because of the lack of law. But the addition of the law, and consequently a greater amount of sin, into the world, was the vehicle for the outpouring of God's grace, especially through the sacrifice of Jesus. "The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace might also reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 5.20). The most pertinent example Paul provides is his concern with the unfaithfulness of the Jews. (Rom. 9.1-ff) Their lack of belief greatly sorrows him, because he views them as the chosen people of God,

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