When we think God has hardened someone’s heart, we should not assume that the hardening is permanent. God can and does break in and save.
Romans 1:18–32 is striking. There the apostle Paul casts the fallout of idolatry into categories of sexual sin — of a deepening entrapment to sexual sin, and specifically homosexual practices. The immediate relevance and potency of this text for our own culture raises all sorts of controversy. Merely expounding the Bible’s own words in this chapter is an act commonly judged as scandalous hate speech. But the Bible says it. We won’t ignore it. Christians cannot ignore it. So then can these idolaters be saved from a process of divine heart-hardening? The question arrives from a listener named Nate.
“Hello, Pastor John! I was recently reading Romans 1:18–32. There Paul seems to be saying that God gave up homosexual sinners to dishonorable passions because they worshiped the creature rather than the Creator. There’s a judgment in this text, the judgment of God giving them over to a further hardening. Yet it also seems to me that former practitioners of homosexual sin can be saved out of that lifestyle (as we see in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11). So the handing over does not seem to be a permanent, irreversible thing either. So is it possible for the ever-hardening heart of Romans 1 to eventually be saved?”