Hardening is like a callus or like the tough bone fibers that bridge a fracture. Spiritual hardening begins with self-sufficiency, security in one’s self and self satisfaction. The real danger is that at some point, repeated resistance to God will yield an actual inability to respond, which the Bible describes as a hardened heart. Insensitivity indicates advanced hardening. Here are some of the warning signs:
1. Disobeying – Pharaoh’s willful disobedience led to his hardened heart.
Exodus 4:21 And the Lord told Moses, “When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do. But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go.
2. Having wealth and prosperity- Taking God’s blessings for granted can cause us to feel as though they were owed to us.
Deuteronomy 8:6-146 “So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. 8 It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. 9 It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. 10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.11 “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. 12 For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13 and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! 14 Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.
3. Rebelling and being discontented – Suffering or discomfort can create an attitude that blames God.
Psalm 95:8The Lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness.
4. Rejecting a deserved rebuke – Rejecting God’s gift makes our neck stiff and our heart hard.
Proverbs 29:1Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.
5. Refusing to Listen – Refusing to listen leads to a loss of spiritual hearing.
Zechariah 7:11-13 11 “Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12 They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them.13 “Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
6. Failing to respond – Listening to God with no intention of obeying produces an inability to obey.
Matthew 13:11-15 11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets[a] of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see.They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
‘When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’
Reference: Romans 9, Page 1911. (n.d.). In Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House.