My last post focused on things we do, or that happen to us, that can create a hard heart. A hard heart occurs when we ignore the still small voice of God, encouraging us to remain open to Him. When we place our own wills above the Father’s will for us, and choose to follow our own path. I should add that hardening of the heart does not happen all at once. It usually occurs over a period of time, after repeated attempts on God’s part to get our attention, and repeated denials on our part to listen to and obey His voice. Here are a few more snippets from Kathi Macias’s book, “Beyond Me”:
“But after being born again by the Holy Spirit, we have access to the very heart and mind of God … But we have to avail ourselves of this privilege by seeking God in prayer, by reading and applying the Bible to our daily lives, by consciously rejecting worldly thoughts and viewpoints that conflict with God’s Word, and by keeping our hearts tender and sensitive toward God’s direction and guidance.” (pg. 88)
“To choose to harden our hearts and go our own way rather than God’s is to choose the way of sin rather than the way of the Spirit. … A Christian stubbornly resisting the Spirit’s leading is vulnerable to the devil’s attacks. … Such a Christian is in rebellion, and apart from repentance, her heart will continue to grow harder and harder until the voice of God grows too faint to be discerned amidst the deafening noise of countless other voices vying for our attention.” (pg. 90)
In the last post, I provided a real-life example of a soft heart. I think we all can begin to picture what a hardening or hard heart looks like. If we are honest, we might even recognize it in ourselves. For certain, God is willing to lovingly point out our hardness of heart, if we will stop long enough and really listen.
“I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements:
noise, hurry, and crowds….Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”
—Jim Elliot, Christian martyr
Notice from Kathi’s words, hardening our hearts makes us more vulnerable to the devil’s attacks, wherein we take our eyes off God and focus on our own circumstances. Remember the adage, “The devil made me do it!” (I think from the 1970s TV program, “Laugh-In”)? While it can be funny, it simply isn’t true. The devil can’t make us do anything; he can only take our minds off the Lord, when we are then apt to do all kinds of things, due to our fallen nature. In the end, we become entangled in sin, which leads to spiritual death. Can the devil cause us to sin? Destroy our souls? Send us to hell? No, no, and no.
Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;
and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
The cure for a hardening or hard heart is two-fold. First, sincere, genuine repentance. To repent means to agree with God that we are wrong…to hand over the scepter of judgment of what is “okay” and what is “sin” to the supreme Lord God Almighty, and accept God’s call as true. Repentance is not an attitude of remorse that things went wrong due to our choices, or that we got caught!
The second important element to reversing a hard heart is submission to God on a daily basis. King David, chief among sinners yet called a man after God’s heart, led by example when he wrote:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23,24)