Summary: We tend to think of non-believers as those with hardened hearts, but it can be christians too!
NIV A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed— without remedy.
What do you think of when you read this scripture? What do you think of when the Bible says "hardened hearts?" When we think of hardhearted people, most of us tend to think of avowed atheists such as Madalyn Murray O’Hair - the woman who was instrumental in removing prayer from public schools. Atheists like O’Hair ridicule the very idea of God. Whenever they refer to Christians, their words have a harsh, biting edge. Other atheists flaunt their hatred for God - such as the rock performer Marilyn Manson, who rips up Bibles during his stage show. Whenever we hear about such people, we think, "Those are the most hardhearted people in the world!" Or, we may think of militant gay activists who mock Christianity and blaspheme God’s name. Whenever we hear of such people, we think, "Their hearts have become hardened because of sin. They’re impossible to reach!"
I could go on and on, describing all kinds of scoffers, mockers, blasphemers, rejecters of Christ. And, indeed, each of these could accurately be described as being hardhearted. But if you want to discover the hardest hearts of all - the ones the Lord most despises - you have to look in God’s house. The hardest hearts are always found among his people! According to the Bible, The Hardness of Heart That God Most Despises Has to Do With the Hearing and Rejecting of His Word.
The Hebrew word for "reproved" in this verse refers to corrective teaching. And the word for "without remedy" here is "marpe" - meaning, "without a cure," "without any possibility of deliverance." This verse first tells us that hardness of heart comes as a result of rejecting repeated warnings - of pushing aside all wooings of the truth. And, second, it tells us that over time such hardness becomes impossible to cure. So, who are the people that most often hear these warnings? They are supposedly Christians - those who sit in God’s house each week listening to sermons of reproof!
Now, even those hard-hearted sinners I mentioned before can be turned, can’t they? They can one day come to God and experience His great love and mercy. The life of Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s son illustrates this. He had been raised in probably the most atheistic household in America. And he later worked for his mother, crusading against God and religion. But when he heard the gospel, he got gloriously saved - and he later became a minister, preaching Christ instead of cursing him. This man’s hardness was curable also - because he hadn’t sat under sermons of reproof and continually rejected them.
You may ask, "What exactly is a hard heart?" A hard heart is one that is determined to resist obeying God’s word. It has become impossible to stir, immune to the convictions and warnings of the Holy Spirit.
Please don’t mistake me: Hardening one’s heart is not just a matter of turning against God, or rejecting Christ, or refusing to go to church. The fact is, your heart can become hard even if you’re at church every time the doors are open. You can become hard while listening to teaching tapes...singing God’s praises...serving as an usher, a teacher, a member of the worship team. Indeed, you can become so hard to God’s word while performing acts of service that even if Jesus himself were to preach from the pulpit, you would turn a deaf ear to him! Right now, you may be saying to yourself, "Whoa! This all sounds a little too scary for me." Rest assured, I don’t want to frighten anyone into contrition of heart. But the truth is, if you regularly ignore the warnings of God’s word, you’d better start attending the deadest church you can find. That way you won’t be judged as severely as you would by continuing to sit in a Holy Ghost church and reject the anointed word you hear. If you keep doing that, your heart will harden beyond any cure!