The seat of our emotions lies within our heart. The Bible warns us to guard our heart because it is the wellspring of life. Everything we do flows from it. The Blue Letter Bible states, the heart is like a reservoir from which our lives flow. My mouth, my hands, and feet are the pipes through which my life flows to others. If the reservoir is polluted… that which flows out from me shall be polluted. Jeremiah 17:9 describes the heart as deceitful and desperately wicked. No wonder Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to keep a careful watch over it.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
Scripture also speaks of a new heart, a heart of flesh, and a heart of stone. When we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He gives us a new heart. This new heart replaces our old and hard heart with a pliable heart of flesh that is open to God’s will.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV)
But even with a spiritually new heart, we can fall back into sin and rebellion. Sin separates us from God, so a hard heart will prevent us from understanding and perceiving spiritual things. We might see what the Lord is trying to do, but we won’t be able to take hold of it and apply it to our lives. When people are hardhearted toward God, it’s like they are spiritually blind and deaf—they just can’t see spiritual truth or hear the Lord speak to them.
“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” Ephesians 4:18 (NIV)
“They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.” Zechariah 7:12 (NIV)
In the psalms, the wicked are described as having a calloused heart. Calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop when your skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure. The Christian life is not without pressure and friction. We are not supposed to walk in a state of self-protection. Instead, we are called to submit to our circumstances and the adversities of life, trusting God to walk beside us through every trial. It is by His power and strength that we prevail and in so doing, Christ is glorified.
“They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.” Psalm 17:10 (NIV)
“From their callous hearts comes iniquity; Their evil imaginations have no limits.” Psalm 73:7 (NIV)
“But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’” Jeremiah 18:12 (NIV)
Ultimately the hardness of the human heart can only be repaired by the grace of God. It is He who can restore us, by taking away our heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh.
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Ezekiel 11:19-21 (NIV)
The primary reason for a hard heart is not God. The cause of a hard, calloused and angry heart is an unbelieving (depraved) heart that resists and fights against divine revelation. The unbeliever hates God and suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. The issue is neither with the revelation nor the Revealer. Instead, it’s the receiver of the revelation that is held accountable.
If you know a hardhearted, stubborn, rebellious friend or family member, pray fervently for them! Ask God to soften their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh, no matter the cost. Whatever it takes.
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” Romans 2:5 (NKJV)
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13 (NKJV)
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness.’” Hebrews 3:7-8 (NKJV)
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13 (NKJV)