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Am I Hard-Hearted?

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April in 4-2006 – a time when I was very hard-hearted!

God’s Spirit speaks to us in powerful ways – but He often uses “a still, small voice” not a booming thunderous voice. If we don’t listen to God at first, when we are able to hear  Him, if we continue to ignore Him or focus on other things, in time, our hearts become calloused and unable to hear God’s voice. We “harden our hearts” against Him. How heartbreaking this process is!

Some ways we may harden our hearts against God:

  • We do not have faith. This is the sin of unbelief. This sin keeps us from even coming to God and is one of the greatest sins there is. We do not believe God is who He says He is. We do not believe He is good. We do not believe He is great. We do not believe He is sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent, holy, loving and active. We do not believe His Word is true. As we continue to believe those lies and not turn to God in faith, our hearts become hardened.
  • There are times when God hardens someone’s heart for His purposes. For example, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh so that he would not allow Israel to leave Egypt when Moses asked him to. God did this so that He could demonstrate His power and wonders to His people as He sent the 10 plagues against the Egyptians, so that His people might fear Him and believe. And yet, there is a mysterious element going on here that even though it was God’s purpose to harden Pharaoh’s heart, he is still responsible and accountable and he still had free will to make this choice.
  • God may ask us to obey a specific command. If we refuse to do what He asks us to do in a proactive way, we begin to create a calloused and hardened heart against God’s Spirit.
  • If God speaks to us about repenting of a sin and we ignore God’s Spirit, we harden our hearts against Him. Then we become more and more callous over time to God’s Spirit’s voice until we may not be able to hear Him at all.
  • Our pride can make our hearts hard against God.
  • If we cling to any sin and cherish it in our hearts, choosing sin over God, we harden our hearts and lose our ability to hear God’s voice and see His truth.

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Greg and April at our wedding on May 28, 1994

MY STORY

I was very hard hearted against God for many years, but didn’t have any idea that I was. I thought I was the best Christian wife ever. I read my Bible daily and prayed, but I did not hear God speak to me very much. I was SO prideful that I didn’t see my own sin and I could read passages about forgiveness, submission to God, submission to my husband, not living in fear, trusting God, respecting my husband and not even see what the passages said. I thought I believed God. I thought I trusted in Christ, but I really trusted MYSELF. I really lived as if I was sovereign and huge and powerful and God was a wimp. I lived as if everything depended on me and if I didn’t make it all turn out “right” everything would be a disaster. I looked down on other people, including my husband, as if I was so much better than they were. I believed people “needed” my help and wisdom to make the best decisions in life.

My pride, self-righteousness and unbelief hardened my heart against God. I could sing praises to Him every day, read my Bible and pray up to 4 hours per day – but I did not truly know God. I did not live for Him. I did not hear Him and I did not allow His Spirit to transform my life. I did not repent. I continued on cherishing my pride, bitterness, resentment, self-righteousness, worry, anxiety, unbelief and accusations against others around me. I was divisive, controlling, full of gossip and disrespectful to others in my extended family. Meanwhile, I was friendly, outgoing, a go-getter, driven, successful, intelligent and smiling at work and at church. But my life did not honor God. I was not living with Christ as Lord even though I thought I was. How tragic!  To have God’s Word and to handle the truth and read it every day and not even be able to see it.

When we are comfortable living in unrepentant sin – our hearts become very hard.

A heart that is soft and pliable in God’s hands LONGS to obey Him in all things and can’t wait to do anything God asks it to do. A yielded heart cannot bear the thought of grieving God’s heart with any sin. When our hearts are soft to God, we will grieve deeply over any sin God reveals to us and we will be quick to turn from it and turn to God for forgiveness and for the power to live in obedience by His Spirit working in us. A yielded heart loves to soak in God’s presence and just absorb all of His love, truth, wisdom and commands. A submitted heart delights in obeying God and in knowing God more fully and living as close to Him as possible.

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VERSES ABOUT HARDENED HEARTS AGAINST GOD

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end… while it is said, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.” Hebrews 3:12-15

“They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.  Zechariah 7:12

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.  But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Ezekiel 11:19-21

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. II Chronicles 36:11-13

Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. Prov 28:14

Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king (Nebuchadnezzar) wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled.  But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.  He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes. Daniel 5:19-21

The cure for a hardened heart:

Humility, brokenness, faith, repentance, trust in God, a deep hunger and desire for God and a total submission of all that we have and all that we are to Christ, bowing to the Lordship of Christ in complete faith and trust.

  • The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17
  • “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD. II Chronicles 34:27

 

30 thoughts on “Am I Hard-Hearted?

  1. Hi, I am Hindu by birth and actually have never really believed in one specific form of God. I am not atheist but its hard for me to give a particular form or face to God.
    How do I make this blog relevant to my life.Please advise.
    Regards

    1. Priyanka,

      I would love to encourage you to start reading the Bible – the book of John would be a great place to start. It is the only source of absolute truth – and it is where the one true God of the universe reveals Himself to us and shows us how to approach Him.

      I’m so excited that you have an opportunity to meet Him and to get to know Him and to receive Him into your life. Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6. If we want to have God, the only way He allows us to have access to Him is through Jesus and His death for us.

      I invite you to learn all you can about God in the Bible. You may want to check out David Platt’s sermon on Youtube “Who Is God?”

      I’m right here and am glad to talk about anything you would like!

      Jesus gives us, sinful people that we are, the ability to have holiness that is from Him that we cannot create ourselves, so that we can have a relationship with God and know Him now and be with Him in heaven forever after we die. His blood shed for us is God’s only provision for us to be able to come to Him. And it is much more than adequate to make us right with God.

      Much love to you!
      April

  2. God place me, an A #1 control freak, in a long-term situation that I have absolutely no control over, and I am so grateful and thankful, because I see the changes He is making in my life that may never have been made in any other circumstance. I believe that God lovingly sifts circumstances through His hands to help purify us and get rid of the dross. Painful…you better believe it, but necessary, because I have been so hardhearted. Thank you, Father, for loving me THAT much to not let me stay the same!

    1. Melissa,

      I LOVE THIS! I am so glad that you see how He is using this painful time and situation to teach you and cause you to grow in your faith and to purify your soul.

      God is so very good!

      Much love to you! I can’t wait to see all that He is doing in your life and all that He will do! 🙂

    2. Melissa,

      AMEN sister! Marriage is a sanctifying tool!

      My pastor keeps saying that marriage is about smoothing out the rough edges! He’s had to use the HARDEST sand paper to my roughness. But when He gets it nice and smooth, OH BOY, it’s as smooth as a freshly bathed and powdered baby’s bottom! 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for your blog. My heart has been changed so much by my Lord, Jesus! Praying for you. I am on the 12 dare today. Sincerely, Kari

    1. Kari,

      I never get tired of hearing about God changing people. PRAISE GOD! I am thrilled about what He is doing in your life. I hope you will share as you are able to and as you are led. Most of all I pray for God’s greatest glory in your life and that you might truly abide in Him and live for Him as LORD.

      Much love!

  4. Amy,

    Wow! Thank you SO much for sharing your story. I pray for God’s healing for you both and for your marriage to bring Him much honor and praise!

  5. Gina,

    Yes! Perfectionism is something I used to struggle with a LOT! I have a YouTube video about perfectionism. It is a form of idolatry and is such a prison and a trap! You can look up my channel “April Cassidy” and find the one about perfectionism.

    Much love to you!

    Paying for God’s freedom for you from this dungeon!!!!!

  6. Hi Gina!

    I think along with being part of “Control Freak Anonymous”, I too used to belong to “Perfectionists Anonymous.” Being controlling and perfectionistic go hand-in-hand and is “natural” for Type A women like you and I. Do not lose hope, sister! The Enemy wants us to believe that if we are not “perfect” the way the world defines perfectionism, that we are “worthless” human beings doomed for “failure.”

    Those who are always striving for perfection, from a psychologist’s viewpoint have “low self-esteem.” There is a void that needs to be filled thus the overly busy persona with the extremely neat house, etc… But nothing ever does fill up that God-shaped vacuum. And nothing we do will ever be enough. No matter how near perfection we can get at any one point, the next moment or the next day won’t be such. Flawed and human as we are, it is more to our nature that we erroneous than to be inerrant.

    The only way one can change this perfectionistic tendency (which used to make me depressed and sometimes even suicidal when things did not go my way, or I was in my eyes, “a failure” over any small or big thing — a few pounds higher on the scale, not so high grades in college, not being praised at work, etc…) is to LET GO and LET GOD.

    Stop the deception right there.

    It is NOT low self-esteem as what the psychiatric world will diagnose it as… It is TOO MUCH PRIDE. That is what it is. Let’s call a SIN for what it is.

    When we “want” to be perfect, why is this so? To gain accolades? To look good in other people’s eyes? To be envied? To be desired? Fill in the blanks… It all centers on ME, MYSELF and I. Where does God fit in the picture?

    Yes, the Lord said for us to be “perfect like the Heavenly Father is perfect” but not in having a spotless car and house or always having the dirty clothes in the clothes bin and not on the floor… It is a different kind of “perfection…”

    1 John 2:4-5

    4 “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”

    It is only in dying to this sinful, prideful self that screams to us daily to feed it with the desire to control things, people and events… and it is in resisting the devil’s whispers that we are worthless, useless humans when we do anything imperfect (as though we did not know that we won’t ever be perfect)… that we gain FREEDOM and are able to BREAK FREE FROM BONDAGE!

    We cannot do it on our own strength, Gina. Only Christ can do that for us.

    It is normal to feel discouraged, but please do not stay discouraged. Be encouraged. 🙂 When you have repented for all your sins and after you have let go and let God in all aspects of your life…. not only will you be freed from your insane desire for worldly perfection, but you will little by little, be transformed by the Spirit towards experiencing the perfect love of Christ. And the peace!!! Sigh. I could revel in it and bask in Christ’s Peace all day long. It is a peace that the world could NEVER give.

    Praying for you sister. Cheer up! We are all here for you and for each other. 🙂

    Love,

    Nikka

    1. Nikka,
      Thank you so much for this!

      Yes, for me, perfectionism, people pleasing and control were all about fear, pride and idolatry. It was primarily because I had a very small, wimpy picture and understanding of God and a very large, powerful, warped picture of myself. I lived as if I was sovereign instead of God. That was a LOT of pressure! Way more than I could handle – trying to be solely responsible for making things all turn out “right” and trying to be perfect when I was acting in my sinful nature… that is a recipe for severe anxiety and depression!

      Learning about God’s sovereignty was a huge key for me – and understanding how small, wimpy, powerless and sinful I am was painful – but very necessary so that I could properly humble myself before God in reverent fear.

      Here is a post about Spiritual Causes of Anxiety and Depression that may be helpful to some wives, as well.

      Much love!

  7. Thank you prayingwife79. It helps to hear your story and experience, I appreciate you sharing it. I want to make decisions in this that will glorify God. It’s hard though because I’m experiencing so many different emotions from one moment to the next that I don’t know if I can think clearly. Today I’m really feeling mad and angry. I feel like he just gets to live in his sin without any consequence and I have to wake up each and every day to my spirit being crushed anew. I know that ultimately there will be consequences but I can’t help but wish some on him right now. But even though he’s sinning, I don’t want to sin in all of this. I’m really seeking the Lord on what I need to be doing. I struggle with my motives as well. Part of me fears him leaving and maybe I’m doing things to try to prevent that? The other part of me just wants to please God. I don’t want to be a ‘good wife’ just so he won’t leave. I want to honor my commitment to him in marriage but I just don’t know how that looks. Seeking Gods wisdom today.

    Thank you for sharing that you don’t take responsibility for his infidelity. That’s huge, as I process and think of all the ways that I have failed it’s hard not to take responsibility for his infidelity.

    Thank you for praying for my husband and I.

    1. Melanie,

      My sweet sister! You are only responsible and accountable for yourself. Your husband is accountable for himself. You don’t own his sin. You only own yours. Thankfully, God has provided ABUNDANT GRACE and MERCY through Christ which we are all in desperate need of!

      I understand that you will go through stages – similar to stages of grief – as you process all of these emotions. I think that is pretty normal.

      I’m really glad that you want to honor God and not sin in this. I know that He will give you the wisdom, power, strength, direction and courage you need to take each step as you seek Him with all your heart, even in your pain.

      Much love to you!

    2. Melanie,

      Hearing what you’re going through is bringing back my own memories of when I found out about my husband’s affairs 6 years ago. We are reconciled and together now, but struggling.

      I know God also prepared my heart at the right time when it was revealed because in that moment, I can’t describe to you the compassion that came out of me towards my husband. I was hurt, yes, but at the same time I thought “wow, he must be hurting so bad to do something like that.” Only God could have prepared me to have such a response to finding out about such a betrayal. I wish I could say that my attitude stayed that way through everything, but it didn’t. Its a roller coaster. Looking back now, I wish I had leaned into God so much more. I wish I hadn’t let me emotions control so many of our interactions. I think I ended up pushing him further away, not meaning to. I wish I had something helpful to tell you, but I just want to encourage you to truly use this time to grow closer to the Lord and watch him work in your life. I know its so hard to go through the motions of living your life when your going through something like this.

      I am praying for you today.

      Jeanne

  8. I have been worried about my heart being hard and times like last night when my husband and I have conflict, I feel like this wall has been put up between me and God again. I don’t want to be hardened and one verse I’ve been praying over my life since October is
    Hosea 10:12 – Plow up the hard grounds of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.

    Oh how I want to seek him and have his righteousness. I want to be soft!

    1. Jeanne,

      That is the exact right place to be – in humility before God, desiring Him and His Spirit and to be moldable and pliable in His hands. 🙂 Praying for you today!

  9. Than you all so much for sharing with me. I know that the reason I am so weighed down and discouraged is really because I am just trying to do this all in my power and for the wrong reasons. If I am honest with myself, I have been trying to “be better” because I know I should be and, after all, I want to be perfect. But doing it in my own strength and for the wrong reasons is just going to put an inordinate amount of pressure on myself and I will eventually fail….and the cycle begins again.

    I feel very blessed to have your support and input on here. It is just nice to know that I am not the only one who has struggled with this because sometimes I feel absolutely crazy with my reactions about things like a receipt left in the car.

    I was telling my husband that I feel like I had an epiphany last night after reading all of your comments and watching the video because I never really looked at perfectionism as an idol…but that is exactly what it is! It is an idol..a false god that I have resurrected and that I worship over Jesus and try to find my security and identity in. I think the reason it has been so hard for me to see this is because it has been so positively reinforced in my life. People don’t affirm you and praise you when you are addicted to drugs or pornography, but when you are a perfectionist, people tell you how good you are, how thorough, how smart, etc. and this horribly negative thing is reinforced over and over again. And yet, it is flattering for a minute, and robs you of joy. My pastor says that envy is the hole in the bucket of gratitude and I think that for me Perfectionism is the hole in the bucket of gratitude. Always focusing on the negative and what is not “perfect” completely robs me of joy and sucks gratitude out of everything.

    I am thankful to be exhorted by all of you to lean on Jesus and not on myself. How incredible and freeing that really is, if I could only live in that freedom!!

    1. Gina,

      You CAN live in that freedom! God will show you how. What you are describing is the “high” of perfectionism. All that praise and affirmation gives you a “hit” of dopamine and works just like the high of a drug to reinforce your addiction to your idol.

      It is flattering – but it absolutely robs us of joy and the power of God in our lives!

      I am so excited about all that you are learning!!!!!!

      PRAISE GOD!

  10. April, It’s encouraging to see how you’re walking in obedience even when it’s hard. I know that it would have been hard for you to tell this woman that you couldn’t email with her personally. Not that you need me to say it, but I believe that you’re doing the right thing. Your blog is full of answers for women at various stages of this journey. It’s God’s wisdom that is displayed here and you are careful to point each of us in the right direction with that. Please don’t feel like you ‘should’ be doing more. You are an open and obedient vessel for God to use and He is well pleased with you!

    1. Melanie,
      My heart breaks that I am unable to email every wife. 🙁 it makes me sad! But I am available here and pray that women will find the truth, love, hope and power of God here.

      Thanks for the encouragement, I wish I could have time to personally minister to everyone. But, I know that what each of us need most is God, not me.

  11. Cat, somehow I missed your response to me. You mentioned it today in another post and I thought I better come back and have a look! I have been through every emotion there is, but when I stop and am still with God, I know that I’m doing the right thing. Over the past week I have been able to see deeper into my husbands pain. I knew that I had caused some of that pain but this week I have been given insight into the magnitude of pain that I have brought my husband over the years. I only started this respect journey 3 months ago and I can definitely understand why my husband would think it was too little, too late. I told my husband about 2 weeks ago that I was going to love him through this just as he loved me in my sin all these years, sin of selfishness and sin of disrespect. He deserves the same grace that he gave me and that God give each of us. He put up with so much from me and I’m starting to understand why he’s shut down over the last years, why we no longer have an emotional connection. Right now, I believe blessing him by offering myself to him frequently, is the right thing. In truth, his sin is not bigger than my sin. I didn’t deserve the unconditional love he gave to me through the majority of our 17 years of marriage, but he gave it. I am truly blessed to have him.

    1. Yes, Melanie, WOW. My husband thinks I’m just determined to stay with him because of my “crazy religious ideals” and doesn’t see it as love. The way you describe it — “to love him through this just as he loved me in my sin all these years, sin of selfishness and sin of disrespect. He deserves the same grace that he gave me” — explains it exactly in a way I can relate to and haven’t been able to grasp. Thank you so much for sharing that and your belief about blessing your husband through intimacy. Your perspective is extremely helpful.

      1. Wow Cat! It’s so cool how God uses us to help each other! Especially during a time where we can’t speak safely of our pain, experience and emotions with those in our life. God is really blessing us here as we journey together!

        1. Amen! I am so blessed to have the support, prayers, encouragement, and examples of so many God-fearing wives in the Peacefulwife community. It is true that God does provide for all our needs.

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