Beware of a Hardened Heart


So, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, “Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.” So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.”' " (Hebrews 3:7-11) The author of the book of Hebrews used the history of failure of the Israelites as a warning to us, pointing out the words of the Holy Spirit, and earnestly urging us not to emulate their attitude towards God and their rebellious actions. Although the Israelites experienced the salvation, protection, providence and togetherness of God on numerous occasions, they did not keep a grateful or contented heart. Each day they encountered miracles, yet they did not know God or the purpose of His works. They tested the Lord many times, trying to use Him to satisfy their greed and lusts. They refused to listen or submit to God, and maintained a hardened and unbelieving heart towards Him. They often abused the love and grace of God, and frequently aroused His anger. In the end, because of their unbelief, those adults aged 40 or older were not permitted to enter Canaan - God’s promised land.


Why were these Israelites who were saved and brought out of Egypt, the land where they were enslaved, unable to enter into God’s promised rest and bounty? According to the revelations in chapter 11 of the book of Numbers, and chapter 3 of Hebrews, it was because they often maintained four bad mindsets (attitudes) against God. These are “lusting hearts” (Numbers 11:4), “erring hearts” (Hebrews 3:10), “unbelieving hearts (Hebrews 3:12, 15), and “hardened hearts” (Hebrews 3:8, 13, 15). These 4 mindsets that cause men to turn farther away from God are one more ferocious than the other, and the most fearful is a heart that is hardened and unrepentant towards God.


We must be very careful and safeguard our hearts, forsake all of the above mindsets, and do not let them be hardened and despise God lest we lose His blessing. If you have the admonition of the Holy Spirit and the discipline of God the moment you fall into sin, this writer offers thanks for you, because they come from the love of God for His children in order to purify and restore you. If you feel unencumbered and at peace when you fall into sin, this writer worries for you, because your spirit is bewildered and you are numb to the warnings of the Holy Spirit. You despise the forbearance and patience of God. When the punishment of the Lord comes, you will not be able to withstand it. If you continuously sin and do not know repentance, and have no awareness of the admonition of the Holy Spirit, this writer can say categorically that you are not a child of God (1 John 3:6-9, Hebrews 12:7-8).


This writer has counseled some members who were weak and in failure, and also exhorted others whose attitudes towards life or service had encountered difficulties. I deeply appreciate the meaning of what the Bible says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” In fact, turning to his own way can happen to those who have been believers for many years. When faced with the admonition of the pastor, many members take an attitude of avoidance and concealment, and offer up excuses to dodge a meeting. Upon discussion about the crux of their problems, the attitude of the members would easily turn into self-assurance, self-delusion, self-apology, self-righteousness, self-glorification or self-pity. Those who are willing to be humble and self-reproaching when faced with the compassionate counsel of the pastor are very few. Many who have been believers for a long time or have some level of service find it sometimes even harder to accept the exhortation of the pastor, and become isolated in their ways.


Dear brothers and sisters. If the Holy Spirit admonishes you and your pastor exhorts you, you must immediately adopt an attitude of humility, self-reflection, obedience, repentance, and retraction to address the situation. Stubborn intransigence will only lead you farther away from God. “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)


By: Daniel To