A Hardened Heart?
Do you have a hardened heart? You might say, “No! I help people and do good things all the time.” However, this is really not where I am going with the question. There are good people everywhere. They help their family, friends, and strangers. However, I might ask them, how do you feel about liver? “Eww yuck!” There heart is hardened against it. How about politics? “I don’t want to hear it!” Religion? “Go away!” Herein is the focus of my questioning. A great number of religious and non-religious people have a hardened heart when it comes to reasoning together regarding the scriptures.
For the non-religious, perhaps better phrased “non-church goer”, the issue may be based upon disbelief. Faced with the scriptures in the past, they found the Bible’s history to be unbelievable. Perhaps this is based upon only minimal exposure to the Bible, the information presented was false teaching, or they had in their hands one of the many corrupt translations that abound in the market place today. Perhaps a poor interaction with, or observation of, hypocritical religious individuals turned the non-church goer away. It is even possible that the individual hardened their heart in regard to the scriptures because when faced with the truth of their shortcomings in the eyes of God, they rejected Him and His desires for their life. Whatever the reason, their heart will either no longer permit the Word of God in or it is going to take a certain circumstance for them to once again open their heart.
For the religious and the Christian, there are also a number of situations which cause a hard heart. These groups are not immune to having a hard heart toward spiritual things. I cannot count the number of times I have heard religious people boasting about rejecting those who wanted to share the scriptures with them. Online discussions frequently demonstrate the hard heartedness of those who do not want to investigate the scriptures, but simply want to blindly push an agenda or opinion. Their hearts are truly hardened to hearing anything contrary to what they hold as truth. Admittedly, it is easy to become skeptical of those who seek out religious discussion. The attitudes and approach make others wary of sharing their valuable time. Reputations (deserved or undeserved) often cause good Christian brothers to avoid one another because battle lines are already drawn from occurrences which happened decades before. Ever sadder yet, is when doctrinal positions are assumed to be held, but not verified or discussed by brothers. They avoid one another because they are hard hearted toward “Liberals, Anti’s Legalists, Conservatives”. Hard hearts do not glorify the cause of Christ.
What does the Bible say about examining the scriptures? Acts 17:11 – “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” This group of people had their hearts open to learning the truth. Yes, they studied to see if these things were true (2 Timothy 2:15), but they did not close their ears. One might say, “Yes, but Paul was teaching the truth!” Indeed, he was. However, Apollos was not. Acts 18:26 – “And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Aquila and Priscilla could have walked away from teaching that was not correct. They could have had hardened hearts. Apollos could also have hardened his heart in regard to their correction. He did not. Souls aren’t saved, brothers aren’t strengthened, God is not honored, by hardened hearts.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”