“But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.”—Exodus 9:34, ESV.
This thought has been on my mind a lot recently. I formed it into a question that I think frames a common assumption today. Hopefully the point is clear.
Question: Is it possible for me to sow my wild oats first then become serious about my relationship with Christ?
Yes, it is possible but it’s not likely. Don’t misunderstand me: The Lord is perfectly able and fully capable of saving any prodigal child. The depth of your pig pen is of no concern to The Lord for His arm is mighty and strong to save any who call upon His name in repentance and faith. Let’s be perfectly clear about that. Scripture attests to this wonderful truth (Luke 15), I am a living testimony of God’s grace towards prodigals, and thousands of others share similar testimonies of God saving them from a deep stinking pig pen. So why would I say that it is “unlikely?” Well it’s not because God can’t save you, but because you most likely will not want The Lord to save you. Yes, it is true that The Lord can and is faithful to save anyone who turns to Him in faith and repentance. It is also true however that unrepentant hearts grow harder. By harderI mean stony, as in tough, impenetrable, resistant. Perhaps it is easier to describe hardness as unresponsiveness. Yes, hardened hearts are certainly non-responsive hearts. As I consider this truth, I am shocked at how many people treat disobedience to The Lord nonchalantly. Disobedience to The Lord is never a light thing it always has consequences and perpetual disobedience carries extremely weighty consequences. And I think if we look at the Exodus narrative for just a moment we see a vivid example of this in the heart of Pharaoh.
I can’t unpack the entire theological punch of divine sovereignty and its relationship to human will in Pharaohs narrative. I’ll be transparent: It’s a mystery to me that I marvel at with great humility. What I would like to point out is something that can be unpacked: Pharaoh was absolutely unrepentant. Often when I read the narrative I am astounded at the pattern—Moses relays the Word of God, an act of judgement falls on Egypt, and Pharaoh (though at times he seems to be giving in) hardens his heart in disobedience to The Lord’s command. I assume that we could question Pharaoh’s sanity… but what do I learn from this (Specifically about the human heart)? Well it appears that disobedience must seem more reasonable the second time around. Why else would Pharaoh persist in disobedience? Stealing the cookie from the cookie jar isn’t as difficult the second time. Sinful disobedience that formerly brought about guilt, shame, and conviction tends to become easier when we persist in it with frequency: not because The Word of God has stopped speaking but because the heart has become hard like a stone. Unrepentance makes the heart harder.
Here’s where I attempt to land this plane. Can God still save you after you have sown your wild oats? Yes, of course. No pig pen is too deep for God’s saving arm. However, Scripture warns that living in unrepentance will harden your heart—and hard hearts become unresponsive to the gracious invitation of The Gospel. It’s not that God can’t save you from that pig pen, but it may be that one day you discover that you do not want God to save you from the pig pen. Instead of coming to your senses you decide to persist in your ignorance. Perhaps that speaks to you, perhaps a stony heart has been cracked. Listen to the warning of Scripture and repent. Give up your wild oats and turn to The Lord—He is always faithful to save those who come to Him in humble faith and repentance.