Summary: This sermon is directed at the largest source of hardened hearts, not the outside world, but inside the church walls.
What I am about to say may shock you - but I believe it with all my heart:
The hardest hearts in this world are not among the ungodly, but among God's people!
When we think of hardhearted people, most of us think of avid 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 are harsh and judgmental.
Other atheists flaunt their hatred for God - such as the rock performer Marilyn Manson, who rips up Bibles during his stage shows. Whenever we hear about people such as these, we think, "Those are the most hardhearted people in the world!"
We may think of militant gay activists, such as those who marched up Fifth Avenue in New York City. Many of those marching homosexuals mocked Christianity and blasphemed God's name. One man carried a sign reading, "Jesus Is Gay." Whenever we hear of such people, we think, "Their hearts have become hardened because of sin. They're impossible to reach!"
Or, we may think about one of the many communist nations that for decades have persecuted Christians. In Cuba, for instance, just miles off of our Florida coast, Fidel Castro's communist regime closed all churches and began turning cathedrals into training centers for communism. Cuba's leaders boasted, "We have wiped out all religion!" And at the time, many Christians thought, "No one could be more hardhearted than these God haters!"
I could go on and on, describing all kinds of scoffers, mockers, blasphemers, rejecters of Christ. And, indeed, each of these could easily 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!
The tragic truth is that in spite of hearing fiery messages sent from heaven, multitudes of Christians do not practice what they hear. They refuse to allow God entry into certain areas of their lives. And as they continue to hear without heeding, a hardness begins to set in. In the end, they will be cut off without hope of ever being cured!
A) ***READ PSALM 95:8-10***
1) Keep in mind this is describing the Israelites, Gods chosen people
B) This verse is repeated in the New Testament.
1) Hebrews 3:7,8 - "...Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness,"
C) Like a hard stone. (not letting anything in, not letting anything out)
1) Zechariah 7:12 - Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone...,"
D) A process over a period of years.
II) THE REASON A HEART BECOMES HARDENED.
1) Especially continual and unrepentant sin.
i) Hebrews 3:13 - But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
ii) 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
2) However, if we don’t confess our sins, they affect our conscience,
i) Making it difficult to even distinguish right from wrong.
ii) 1 Timothy 4:1-2 - Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
1) Obadiah 1:3 - The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
2) Refusing to forgive or Holding Grudges
i) Ephesians 4:26 - Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
ii) If we carry a grudge it means we are unforgiving and unloving.
iii) Bearing a grudge leads one to bitterness, wrath, and hatred
iv) Grudges promotes gossip and slander
v) Holding grudges can disrupt the unity of friends, family, and the church.
C) RESISTING THE HOLY SPIRIT
1) Acts 7:51 - Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
i) Stephen peached to the religious at his trial
2) Ephesians 4:30 - And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
i) In the next verse Paul mentioned what resisting (or grieving) the Holy Spirit brought into your nature
(c) Clamour – (outcry or grief)
(d) Evil speaking