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.
Greg and April at our wedding on May 28, 1994
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.
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
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