“Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:19-24)
Man, in his carnality, is quick to find excuses. The statement why doth he yet find fault is indicating an attempt to flee personal responsibility due to a warped perception of God's sovereignty. It may be understood this way, “If man's efforts profit nothing and God is the one who decides the course of events, why am I held accountable for my actions. Can I personally do anything about my behavior?” This argument, of course, is a straw man. It attempts to make God the author of sin and free man from his personal responsibility. This argument is rebuked based upon the grounds of God's authority as the supreme Creator. Man, with his finite understanding and severe lack of knowledge, is simply not in a position to argue against the wisdom and mercy of God. God is the supreme potter, and people are the clay. The clay can cooperate in the hands of the potter, or it can resist the formation process and be cast out. Either way, the potter has the final say over the clay (Jeremiah 18:1-6). The phrase fitted to destruction is a Greek participial phrase which can be either passive or middle in its voice. This means that the action can be understood as taking place upon the subject, or it may be understood that the subject has some participation in the action even though it is still being acted upon. Both ideas are present in this participle and both are theologically correct according to the context of the passage. The vessels of wrath are in the hands of the potter; yet, they have made the choice to resist His formation process; therefore, the potter forms them for destruction because they will not submit. Even in this they are still useful because the great Potter is preparing them to magnify His power through their stubborn fall. This in turn will encourage the less stubborn vessels to flee to the mercy of the gracious Potter who has offered salvation.