What Does It Mean To Have A Hardened Heart?

by Daryl Evans · Print Print · Email Email

Ephesians 4:18 “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

There are many passages of Scripture that talk about our heart.  In fact, there are over 1000 occurrences in the Bible.  This article will only mention a few passages about this broad topic but I want to begin by thinking what the “heart” means to us.  If you are a regular church attendee or someone that reads books dealing with spirituality you are probably very familiar with this concept.  But what is the “heart” and what does it mean to have a “hard heart”?  To fully understand what the Scriptures are intending, it is important to understand what the heart is both physically and then in the spiritual sense too.

How Should We Define Heart

Wikipedia defines it this way… “

The heart is a hollow muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the blood vessels to various parts of the body by repeated, rhythmic contractions.” 

This sounds pretty simple and if I asked for your definition you might say that the heart is what keeps the blood moving and is the life source of the body.  So, to state the obvious, when Scripture talks about the heart it is not only describing that muscle that is going thump, thump, thump in the body but is also describing out inner being that includes our emotions, our intellect and our moral make up.  So when the writers of Scripture talk about a hardened heart they are not obviously talking about the physical heart but a hardness of our inner soul that is resisting the will of Almighty God.  But we might ask, “What brings about this hardness of heart?”

Hardened Heart

Sin is ultimately the cause of a hard heart. Sin often leads to pride which leads to individuals that are more interested in trusting in their own self than in putting our trust in God.

Cause of Hardened Heart

Sin is ultimately the cause of a hard heart.  Sin often leads to pride which leads to individuals that are more interested in trusting in their own self than in putting our trust in God. One clear passage about the combination of pride and the heart is in Obadiah 3.  Obadiah 3 says, 

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock,  in your lofty dwelling,  who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?”

This passage is a picture of pride (which means to elevate ourselves instead of elevating God) leading to a hard heart.  The pride evident here had led to deception which happens when we think that we do not need God but can handle things on our own.

Related reading: 5 Biblical Consequences of Sin

Biblical Examples of a Hardened Heart

There are many examples of a hard heart throughout the pages of the Scriptures.  Another glaring example of this is the story of David and Bathsheba.  David was tempted and fell into sin with Bathsheba and we see how this initial sin lead to many, many more sins that ultimately led to the murder of Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) and ultimately the death of David’s own son because of this sin in 2 Samuel 11-12.  This story is so familiar to us as but it is still hard for us to see that a “man after God’s own heart” (David) could fall so hard and so fast.  One interesting part of the story is that it becomes obvious that David does not even initially feel guilt or remorse for the sins that he has committed.  He has moved along with his life and has even taken Bathsheba for a wife and about a year passes before God sends Nathan the prophet to talk with David.  This dialogue is written out for us in 2 Samuel 12 when Nathan comes to King David with a story for the wise King David to hear and rule on.  Nathan tells David the story of a rich man that had taken everything from a poorer neighbor.  The rich man in the story ends up being King David and the poor man is Uriah the Hittite.  The King does not realize that the story is about David himself until Nathan reveals in 2 Samuel 12:7 “Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

David had been living with this sin for many months (as we know that his illegitimate son had already been born and David had married Bathsheba) but now David finally comes to see it for the sin that he committed.  He finally repented (2 Samuel 12:13) and asked forgiveness from God and we can see that confession in the great chapter of Psalm 51.  My point that I want us to catch is that David’s heart had grown hard from this sin and he didn’t even seem remorseful for any part of the story until God sent His prophet Nathan to confront David.  That is the way that Satan tries to bring us down too.  Maybe our stories are not as graphic as David and Bathsheba but Satan knows that unconfessed sin leads to broken communication with God.  When we are not right with God we can easily become calloused towards sin and rebellion in our lives.  That is the danger of not confessing our sins to God.

Closing Thoughts

God knows that we will never be perfect until He sends Jesus back for His second coming. We will not attain perfection but all followers of Jesus are told to confess our sins to God.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is  faithful and just to forgive us our sins and  to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  God does not hold our sins against us but has sent the perfect sacrifice to hang on a cross for your sins and mine.  That gives us victory over sin and death.  By confessing our sins we can keep our heart soft or open to God every day.  We can do this daily by remembering the words of Psalm 139. Psalms 139:23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and  lead me in  the way everlasting!”

This is the way to stay open to the words and leading of God the Father.  When we desire to speak daily and openly with our heavenly Father.  May the prayer of our heart be to walk close with God and to seek repentance and forgiveness from God daily.  I encourage you as you finish reading this article to pray to God Psalms 139:23-24 and ask forgiveness for any sins that are standing between you and God.  He has already paid the price for our sins, the least we can do is to ask forgiveness and a clean heart.

Praise Him!

Pastor Daryl

Related Reading: How To Confess Your Sins: A Bible Study

Resource – “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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