When we hear a minister talk of a hardened heart, our mind quickly envisions an unbeliever resisting the Word; Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:7 also comes to mind; “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts”. Listening to a sermon at my local church few weeks ago, got me thinking how believers harden their hearts just as much as non-believers do.
A hardened heart is one which resists the Word of God, knowingly or unknowingly. This heart condition is triggered by the deceitfulness of sin, unforgiveness, pride, unbelief, fear, past disappointments, bitterness, traditions, or failure. Sooner or later, a person’s ability to spiritually perceive, hear, discern, and understand becomes dull. It can be equated to spiritual retardation…auch! Yeah, for the natural man does not understand the things of God, they are spiritually discerned by a heart willing to yield.
Hardness of heart is a spiritual condition every believer should guard against. Out of the heart flows the issues of life. Although we have received the promise of rest, it is possible to miss it when we hear the Word and fail to mix it with faith (Heb 4:1-11). This is well demonstrated by the 12 spies sent by Moses to spy the land, which the Lord had already given them. 10 of the 12 spies brought back a bad report of defeat, which was contrary to God’s word for them. Their report also instilled doubt, fear, unbelief and stirred up restlessness among the Israelites. Shocking how simple words of mouth by the 10 spies who resisted God’s promises became contagious in the entire nation resulting to the consequence of death.
On the contrary, Caleb and Joshua were exempted from that death sentence for they mixed God’s Word with faith. These spies had a different spirit called faith, and by it they obeyed and followed God wholeheartedly. Prompted by their faith in God, they did not speak what everybody spoke, even under the threat of being stoned (Num 14:10). Neither did they perceive themselves as grasshoppers when everybody did. They rose above the toxic atmosphere in a nation that would rather complain than conquer. They had the wisdom to see and believe that the Lord, who had shown Himself almighty against the Egyptians, must be equally almighty against the Canaanites.
The antidote for a hardened heart is entering into God’s rest. This is not just something we do on the 7th day. It is something we do on a daily basis by laying down our fears, anxieties, heartache, and ceasing to strive on our human strength because God is in control. We enter by degrees into rest by being hearers and doers of His Word. Worrying, murmuring, rebellion complaining, repeating what talk show experts say, or trying to figure things out using our natural intellect alone cannot add one cubit to our stature. It only hardens the heart against God’s Word.
It takes intentional effort to soften our heart; diligently standing on His word in whatever circumstance. To trust Him, count on Him, and Hope on Him more than anything else in this world. Take hold of the shield of faith, and watch God’s powerful promises extinguish all the fiery arrows of the wicked.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.