THE DANGERS OF HARDENING YOUR HEART
First of all, what does it mean to harden your heart? a footnote in the NIV Bible calls it moral unresponsiveness. The word " moral" means to "behave in a certain way that is considered right and good behavior by most people". To be unresponsive would be "not responding". Therefore, hardening the heart would mean "not being responsive in your heart [spirit] to moral beliefs [God's instruction].
Here is a warning from Proverbs 28:14 (NIV) "Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble."
We can learn a lesson from Exodus 17:1-7 (NIV);
The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin , traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?"
But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?"
Then Moses cried out to the Lord, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."
The Lord answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah [testing] and Meribah [rebellion] because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?"
God wants us to trust Him. That was what He tried to get across to the stubborn, rebellious children of Israel. They had seen wonders when the Red Sea opened up before them, and yet they couldn't believe He was going to take care of them. He tells us not to be like them in
Hebrews 3:7-19 NIV;
So as the Holy Spirit says; 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."
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living 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. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said:
"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."
Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
The people who failed to enter into the promised land were those who had heard God's promise concerning the land and they refused to believe what He had promised. This was described as an act of rebellion, sin, and disobedience. The writer of Hebrews encourages us not to harden our hearts as they did. He also said that we can share in Christ if we hold firmly to our belief.
In conclusion, lets look at what Ephesians 4:17-19 (NIV) says:
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 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. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
When we harden our hearts to the ways of God, we no longer are sensitive to the voice of the Spirit who leads us and guides us. This leads to all kinds of sin and the desire for more and more. So! Set your course and determine that your ears are open to the Lord! Keep your heart soft by repenting quickly and turning from all sin in your life. With God's help you CAN be an overcomer!