A Hard Heart Makes a Soft Christian
This past Sunday we continued our Better series and we concluded chapter 3.
Chapter 3 introduced us to the concept of a hard heart. This is crucial to understand for growth and awareness of attitudes that can stunt growth in Jesus Christ.
A phrase that my mother would use to prophesy the end result of my disobedience was “a hard head makes a soft behind.” What she was saying was my refusal to obey would lead to a spanking and other forms of discipline.
The author of Hebrews gave us an even more startling reality because what’s worse than a hard head is a hard heart.
A hard heart makes a soft Christian!
Soft Christian’s don’t go hard for God, they go hard against Him.
The process of hard heartedness isn’t instantaneous in most cases, just like a callous on your hand gets used to the pressure of pull-ups. Someone with a hard heart gets used to disobeying God.
To address this, Hebrews gives us three things in the final section of chapter 3:
- Examination of what a hard heart looks like and he used Israel as his example.
- Explanation of how someone with a hard heart operates.
- Exhortation of how we can live joy filled lives with hearts soft towards God. Don’t mistake a soft heart with weakness, in context, having a heart soft towards God instead of one that’s hard towards Him is someone who listen to Him.
To understand this passage, we need to understand the myriad of things the heart represents in scripture.
The Bible reflects the heart to be the center of human personality, producing the things we would ordinarily ascribe to the “mind.”
For instance, Scripture tells us that grief (John 14:1); desires (Matthew 5:28); joy(Ephesians 5:19); understanding (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:15); thoughts and reasoning (Genesis 6:5; Hebrews 4:12; Mark 2:8); and, most importantly, faith and belief (Hebrews 3:12; Romans 10:10; Mark 11:23) are all products of the heart.
Also, Jesus tells us that the heart is a storehouse for good and evil and that what comes out of our mouth – good or bad – begins in the heart (Luke 6:43-45).
This is crucial to understand because Christians who profess love for God can have hard hearts towards Him.
In Mark 8:17-19, Jesus’ disciples displayed hard hearts towards Him. Knowing the severity of a hard heart and how it destroys fellowship with God, God has graciously given us, His children, three heart monitors that serve as internal mirrors:
- Spirit – who leads us into all truth.
- Scripture – God’s word.
- Saints – God’s people.
What causes hard hearts?
The sin of pride!
What are the primary displays of hard hearts?
- Disobedience – a refusal to listen and obey.
- Disbelief – a refusal to trust.
When we don’t confess our sins, they have a cumulative and desensitizing effect on the conscience, making it difficult to even distinguish right from wrong and causes a “seared conscience” which Paul talks about in 1 Timothy 4:1-2.
Scripture makes it clear that if we relentlessly continue to engage in sin, there will come a time when God will give us over to our “debased mind” and let us have it our way.
The apostle Paul writes about God’s wrath of abandonment in his letter to the Romans where we see that godless and wicked “men who suppress the truth” are eventually given over to the sinful desires of their hardened hearts.
Pride will also cause our hearts to harden. The “pride of your heart has deceived you . . . you who say to yourself, ‘who can bring me down to the ground’ . . . I will bring you down declares the LORD” (Obadiah 3).
Also, the root of Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness was his pride and arrogance. Pride says, I’m going to do it my way and tells God how He should act. It’s never rooted in humility.
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?”
Prideful hearts convince themselves that they can use God to disobey God.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tested me, tried me, and saw my works 10 for forty years.
Hard hearts start with clogged ears.
Watch the Full Sermon
This week, ask to be sensitive to God’s voice to be able to discern what He is saying and to distinguish His voice from your own. Ask God to show you areas in your life where your heart may be hard. Lastly, if your heart is hard, ask God to break your heart and know that he’ll mend it.
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