Posted by: the warrioress | December 17, 2011

A Hard Heart

How and why does a heart become hard toward God? What does a hardened heart look like? What does one look like whose heart has been hardened toward God?

Some say that one with a hardened heart is spiritually ignorant or blinded. He cannot see the truth of the glory of God. His intuitiveness is darkened and he has become self focused, to the exclusion of the light. When illumination is cast upon him, he cannot see or even sense it.  His heart has grown cold; it has hardened. The bible also talks to us about hardened hearts. Let’s read what it has to say because it actually sheds a lot of light upon this topic of the hard heart.

Romans 2:5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

The “hard” or “impenitent” heart is one that is not remorseful, or regretful. It is unrepentant, uncontrite. The hard heart doesn’t care about sin and sees sin as something that just doesn’t apply in his life, isn’t important; for him it may not even exist.

Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

This passage shows us that sin is “deceitful.” It can fool or trick us. We can be deluded by sin to the point that it begins to harden our hearts. Sin changes who we are and most especially when we give into it and allow it to rule us.

1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

The natural man cannot understand the things of God. He believes they are foolish. He is not spiritual naturally. He is sinful naturally. Man has a sin nature. He cannot comprehend the things of God until and unless he has a change of heart, and his heart softens toward God. A soft heart opens man up to God.

Mark 8:17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?

Jesus is saying that one cannot perceive or understand when one’s heart is hardened. Something has blinded the disciples and in this case, it’s their hearts being hardened that may be the problem. Jesus points out for us in this passage that He questions why His disciples didn’t understand. Jesus wonders if they have become hardened/ spiritually blinded to what He was saying.

The following few paragraphs make the hard heart a little clearer:

Sometimes it’s difficult to spot the difference between a hard and a seeking heart. I remember once as a student at the University of Minnesota I was having an intense conversation with a fellow-student named Jack about Christ. He kept peppering me with questions about the Bible, the problem of evil, science and Christianity, etc. After about two hours of patiently answering his questions (and honestly admitting when I just didn’t have an answer),

I finally blurted, “Jack, if we could meet for the next few months once a week and patiently study these issues, and if you found answers that were intellectually satisfying, would you be open to accepting Christ as your Savior?” Without hesitation, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Not in the least. I have chosen my path in life and I don’t want God or anyone else interfering with me.”

Christ and The Pharisees

Jesus and the Pharisees

When the Pharisees asked for a “sign from heaven” it was in line with Jack’s questioning. They didn’t have an open mind; they had a closed and hardened heart. And according to the Bible, this is true for all of us: we are seekers, we are thirsty for knowledge and truth; but on a deeper level, we’re also twisted in our search for truth, we’re on a spiritual journey away from God not towards God (Romans 3:11-12).

This is the problem of the hardened heart. And notice Jesus’ response: he doesn’t play their game. We have a tendency to think that Jesus was always nice and sweet. He wasn’t. Actually, in verse 12 Jesus said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? I tell you the truth (a phrase that literally meant “I’ll die before I do this”), no sign will be given it.” In other words, Jesus was saying, “I’m not playing your petty game. When your heart is hardened by sin, and you’re not willing to face it, there’s really nothing I can do for you. Another ‘sign’ won’t change your heart.”

And then in verse 13 we read “Then he left them, got into the boat and crossed over to the other side.” The bodylanguage is clear: Jesus was saying, “Any further discussion with you guys is a waste of my time. The problem isn’t here (point to my brain); the problem is here (point to my heart). And until you deal with your heart condition, you’ll never be happy with me.”

The natural tendency of our unredeemed hearts, our hearts outside the reach of God’s grace, is to move towards hardness. And there are so many things that can harden our hearts: circumstances, people, our work, our busyness.

But when we come under the influence of Jesus, when we ask and invite the Holy Spirit to come into our lives, when we stand with Jesus at the foot of the cross, when we see that He loved us and gave himself for us and for our salvation even when we weren’t open, we weren’t seeking him, we were the hardened lump of clay (point to the hard lump); all of this begins to break our hearts wide open and then it begins to soften our hearts so God can work in us and God can use us for His purposes (point to the soft clay).

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Responses

  1. A hardened heart is something that we as believers who have seen and felt the presence of God can be quite hard for us to understand. It can be frustrating when ministering to others too but remember the words of Jesus: “…with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). Thankfully the Holy Spirit can soften hearts! 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  2. Merry Christmas, and thank you for the wonderful comment. I do trust that God will allow the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of those who desire to know Him. I love your blog, btw. Very nice.

  3. Nice post!

  4. hardened hearts may be from the pain they endured during life, like loss of loved ones and scars, or cut or broken but time generally heals all wounds, perhaps that is why there is forgiveness (~_~)

  5. Thanks, Diesel 😉

  6. Thank God that the Holy Spirit can men these broken and hardened hearts. Thank you for thinking about this and commenting here, Zen (hugs)

  7. Warrioress

    Thanks for the clarifying post.

    My main impression is that you seem to regard the state of having rejected God as a sort of general malaise that affects all areas of the person’s life.

    Perhaps I am misreading you, but if I’m not, then I think I must disagree. Allow me to demonstrate by clarifying which of the points in your post I feel apply to me, and which do not:

    The following *do* apply to me:
    – Cannot see the glory of God. While I can certainly see that God is portrayed as a being full of glory, I cannot see that glory for myself, for the simple reason that I see no evidence of God himself.

    – Not remorseful or regretful. It is certainly true that I’m not remorseful or regretful for rejecting God. Indeed, I see it as one of the best decisions of my life. However, that doesn’t mean I have no capacity for remorse or regret. There are one or two things in my life that I regret to this day, despite the years that have passed. I also feel remorse when I do harm to others.

    The following do *not* apply to me:
    – Intuitiveness darkened. I consider myself to be a fairly intuitive person, and I don’t think my level of intuitiveness changed when I became an atheist. Of course, it may be the opinion of believers that because I don’t think the same way they do, that this means I’ve lost my sense of intuition. They’re obviously welcome to that opinion.

    – Self-focused. Again, I am no more or less self-focused than I was before my deconversion. I spend plenty of time caring for, and worrying about, others.

    – Cold heart. This is the sort of thing I was talking about in my own blog. I do not have a cold heart. I may have rejected God, but I have not rejected life, or love, or joy, or compassion, or empathy. In fact, I’m more happy and at peace since becoming an atheist, so in a sense my heart has warmed.

    – Doesn’t care about sin. I consider myself to be a deeply moral person. I just don’t base my morality on religious concepts.

    – Refuse to believe in god even if the evidence arises. On the contrary, if good evidence came along tomorrow, I’d convert on the spot.

    All the best

    Keith

  8. Hi Keith,

    Hmm. Yes, I guess I do believe that rejecting God results in the changing of who a person could be and takes them into areas where they essentially become something else, other than what God could have offered them. I think it does impact all areas of their lives.

    By the “not remorseful or regretful,” I was talking about an attitude toward sin. Jesus says that sin is one of the things that can harden our hearts. Rejecting God/Jesus Christ/the gospel again and again is another thing that will harden our hearts. Rejecting the truth begins to desensitize us to the truth and eventually our mind becomes “reprobate.” There is yet another word that you may or may not have heard used by Christians because it’s in the bible describing those who have turned away from God.

    A lot of non-believers take issue with the fact that they are very moral, well behaved human beings. The problem with this is that we cannot earn our way into heaven or get the brass ring through this “morality.” Certainly morality is good for morality’s sake, but it won’t get you far with God as a basis for salvation because you and I both still sin. We’re still sinners at the end of every day because we cannot follow the Law well enough to save ourselves. God is holy. Without Jesus Christ, we are not. We can never be holy enough for God on our own, no matter how good of people we are.

    When I spoke of “intuitiveness,” I was speaking to spirituality and intuitiveness of the things of God. If you have no belief in God and think that the bible is invalid, would you not be spiritually berefit of things as they relate to the God of the bible?

    I didn’t mean to imply that a person who has rejected God has a “cold heart.” I don’t think “hard heart” means “cold heart.”

    Take you, for example; I don’t get the impression at all that you’re someone with a cold heart. I think you’re a warm, passionate (in your own quiet way) type of individual. You’re probably a very nice person to know off line, a decent person, a good person.

    Understand that I use this term only as it is discussed within the bible, only as it relates to the bible and Christianity. I perceive it in direct relationship to God.. between yourself and God alone. Of course, we’re discussing a lot of things, you and I, but none of them appear to be impacting you in the least. Your mind is made up, in other words. And I refer to that as a “hard heart” toward God because the bible tells us this is what it is.

    Exactly what would God have to do to change your mind about Him, Keith? If you don’t mind my asking, that is…

    All the best to you this Christmas as well,

    Adrienne

  9. Adrienne (nice name, by the way!)

    A couple of specific responses to your reply:

    “A lot of non-believers take issue with the fact that they are very moral, well behaved human beings. The problem with this is that we cannot earn our way into heaven or get the brass ring through this “morality.””

    Agreed, but you’re thinking within your own worldview here. The fact is, atheists don’t believe heaven even exists, so it wouldn’t make any sense to talk to them about getting into heaven. Atheists behave morally for different reasons, usually because they value human well-being and they recognize that they have no higher claim to well-being than anyone else.

    “Certainly morality is good for morality’s sake, but it won’t get you far with God as a basis for salvation because you and I both still sin.”

    Once again, this view only makes sense from within the Christian worldview. Atheists aren’t attempting to get “far with God”, because they don’t believe God exists, so this point is moot.

    “When I spoke of “intuitiveness,” I was speaking to spirituality and intuitiveness of the things of God. If you have no belief in God and think that the bible is invalid, would you not be spiritually berefit of things as they relate to the God of the bible?”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “spiritually bereft of things”. Could you be more specific?

    “I think you’re a warm, passionate (in your own quiet way) type of individual. You’re probably a very nice person to know off line, a decent person, a good person.”

    Thanks 🙂

    “Of course, we’re discussing a lot of things, you and I, but none of them appear to be impacting you in the least. Your mind is made up, in other words.”

    Couldn’t it be that I simply don’t find the arguments for Christianity compelling? There surely has to be a difference between stubbornly setting your mind against an idea, and coming rationally to the conclusion that the idea is wrong, with the willingness to change one’s mind if new evidence arises? I feel you are unfairly placing me in the former category, which is why I felt compelled to write my own piece on hardened hearts in the first place.

    Perhaps you can think of an idea you have rejected, let’s say the existence of Santa Claus. Would you say that your heart is hardened against Santa? It’s certainly true, I think, to conclude that nothing I say will have any impact on your lack of belief in him. But this isn’t because you’ve “hardened your heart”, it’s because you’ve assessed the evidence and realized that the idea of Santa Claus is simply mythical.

    And I’m sure you’sd agree that if profoundly convincing evidence of Santa came to light (let’s say a massive workshop was discovered at the North Pole, and also a special sleigh with the ability to locally distort time and space).

    “Exactly what would God have to do to change your mind about Him, Keith? If you don’t mind my asking, that is…”

    Great question. There are actually many things God could do that would change my mind. These include miracles, such as making his name appear in the clouds, or raising a graveyard full of dead people: things that could be observed and corroborated by other people so that they’re not likely to be hallucinations.

    Even more subtle things might convince me. For instance, there was a study some time ago on intercessory prayer. The results were inconclusive: sick people who were prayed for fared no better or worse than people who weren’t prayed for. If such a study showed a significant positive result, demonstrating that prayer actually works, then I’d have to reconsider my beliefs.

  10. (In the Santa analogy, I meant to say that if the described evidence came to light, you’d be willing to reconsider your lack of belief in him.)

  11. Hi warrioress and kpharri,
    I really enjoyed this article warrioress, and think its such an important topic that many people could benefit from (of course, as with anything, reading and forgetting is not enough). Reading and understanding, or reading and applying is what counts. Or at least if don’t apply instantly it may stay on the back burner and be a complement to any further message from God or guidance.
    I also very much enjoyed reading the discussion between you two. I can fully understand kpharri’s point of view. All very sound.
    It has been my personal belief for about 14 years already that, God would never ‘discard’ a soul such as kpharri, just for using his God-given intellect and making sense of his reality.
    Even so, I personally consider such people (who believe only in their 5-senses and intellect) to be handicaps of some sort.
    Even I, cannot claim any 6th sense that I know of nor do I see auras etc. Actually the only thing that I have ever detected ‘supernatural’ was while I was driving once, I ‘felt’ (I don’t know how to describe) a ball of golden light on top of my head as I was driving. To make matters even more peculiar, the ball of light for some reason was not completely centered on top but was a little towards the left side of my head. These ‘detections’ I have no way of describing to you ‘how’ it happened. But at the moment right before, I was simply with a quiet peaceful mind, thinking about God and various human situations. But very peaceful and relaxed. Another time (to make it short) I detected a light creeping up my body, as I was taking a shower). Prior to this, Inhad asked God to show me what he wanted to tell me. And it turned out to be my job. I was debating whether to listen to the message ‘quit X’ or not (x=name of my former company which i wont disclose). My rational mind came up with the well-expected concerns about such a sudden move. As I listed all the items, I felt myself sinking. As I put forth the other option ‘or just quit X’ then I instantly would feel lighter and a light filling my body! How can this be, after all my ‘brain’ was predisposed to the rational option. I had been ‘avoiding God’ in a way, for many weeks, because I was afraid He might have a message for me which would require a radical change in my life.
    I believe (I have not achieved yet) that the more you really *practice* in real life, the teachings (whether it be Bible or other true scripture) your metaphysical senses will be awakened. The challenge is that, most of us have always excuses for not performing, for being weak. For hating, for lying, for cheating (taxes, at work, numbers, claims, spouse, etc). Thus you never to make it out of the level you are currently stuck in. There are always excuses like ‘the system’ or ‘that’s not the way the world operates’ etc. But Jesus teachings were NEVER about following the ways of the world.
    Either way God loves us ALL. If you check my WordPress at the very bottom (first posting) you can see…
    Kpherri, have you considered the thousands of testimonies of Near Death Experiences? These are special,opportunities to collect information about the other realm and see what they have in common and what the central message is.
    A doctor, a man of intellect, has even written a book about a study of thousands of these NDEs and concludes that 8 lines of reasoning prove they must be real. The book is Evidence of the Afterlife.
    Their research website is http://www.nderf.org
    Mny other individual doctors not affiliated with any organization have also voiced their opinion that these are real, or that there was a real presence felt in the room.
    In the more aerial birds-eye view of things, even if Kpherri or other atheists do not believe in God, their learning continues, the education of the soul continues, not all atheists are of the same moral quality I am sure too.
    God works through various frameworks is what I have learned. God does not belong to any church or religion. All that we have received is through revelation ultimately all scriptures.
    When I fervently asked God for answers to my question about salvation, I received various revelations and he answered my concerns. Ever since then I kept quiet about my belief while others think this or that is truly the only way.
    One thing is for sure, if you don’t dive deep into whatever framework God is presenting you, do your work of helping, and always keep open communication to God, you won’t go anywhere no matter if you memorized all the scriptures of this planet.
    I myself am still, just starting to ‘take up my cross.’
    🙂

  12. Moonliteeve:

    I’m afraid I don’t put much stock in near death experiences, especially when they’ve been shown by various studies to be psychological phenomena that arise from oxygen starvation in the brain (see links at the bottom of this comment).

    But this is part of a more general, and extremely important point: the human mind is an extraordinarily complex thing capable of generating all sorts of false experiences. Indeed, our entire perception of reality is ultimately a simulation cobbled together from what our five senses pick up and what our subconscious mind generates on its own, based on past experience. Most people haven’t read what neuroscientists are discovering about brain function, so they’re under the impression that human perception is always a reliable reflection of reality. It isn’t – far from it.

    For this reason, when I hear people assigning supernatural causes to strange experiences such as yours (the golden ball of light over your head), or to NDEs, I’m always a little surprised that they’ve either missed or rejected the most obvious explanation, namely that the subconscious mind is simply impressing it’s own internal, yet incorrect, perception of the world on the conscious mind.

    I would even go so far as to say that most superstitious belief systems in the world today, including non-religious ones like astrology, are all largely a result of our enormous underappreciation of the power of the mind to generate it’s own version of reality.

    To find out what is really true in the world, we have to take steps to eliminate tricks of the mind, including subjectivity and bias. And this, as it happens, is what science is fundamentally about: it’s about removing bias from our perception of reality. It’s about making sure our preconceptions don’t get in the way of what’s really out there.

    So, if there is a god, I want to make sure it is real, and not a product of my own psychological desires and biases. This means that I’m not prepared to believe, without question, in whatever god I come across. I’m also especially wary of believing in the god worshiped by the culture I grew up in – this god is going to seem more “normal” and “correct” to me, simply because I’ve been surrounded by people who believe in him. I can’t let this fool me into thinking that this god actually exists, or is more likely to exist than any other god.

    And somehow, if a god exists, I doubt if he would be upset by people exploring his existence with the highest level of rigor and skepticism (NOT to be confused with cynicism). After all, if a god exists, he knows how easily we humans can be fooled, and he wouldn’t want us to go chasing after every false god that our minds invented.

    Thus far, I have not found such a god, but I’m always open to new evidence.

    http://www.livescience.com/16019-death-experiences-explained.html

    http://www.ukskeptics.com/the-dying-brain.php

    http://lnco.epfl.ch/files/content/sites/lnco/files/shared/publications/lnco/2009_Dieguez_NC(chap)_leaving%20body%20and%20life%20behind-out%20of%20body%20and%20near%20death%20experience.pdf


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