Here are eight warning signs of a wicked and hardening heart.
When a person begins to feel no conviction from sinning, the Spirit may not be as easily recognized next time. When we resist the conviction of the Spirit, it’s like a little tiny callous starts forming over our heart….and the more we grieve the Holy Spirit, the less we’ll feel His telling us to stop and repent of this and then confess it to God. This is very dangerous for someone who’s not a Christian but does believe in God, since, if they fall away “it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2nd Pet 2:21).
Whenever we start growing discontented with things in life, we are starting to harden our hearts a bit. It’s not that contentment comes naturally, because even the Apostle Paul had to learn contentment and despite beatings, stoning’s, lashes, and imprisonment, he says “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil 4:11). If anyone had a reason to be discontented in life it was Paul but he says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil 4:12). He learned it. He made a choice. When discontentment erupts into anger (which in time it will), that’s wickedness in a person’s heart.
How can we have been redeemed from the pit of hell and then withhold the good news from others is a mystery but some will settle into their pews and not be interested in leaving the church to bring others into the kingdom. The psalmist wrote that “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71). When we are no longer afflicted by this world’s evil we may be hardening our hearts. For the Psalmist, affliction was for the purpose of his learning God’s statutes because “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word” (Psalm 119:67).
In many Christian’s lives we have; prayers without tears, giving without sacrifice, living without fasting, profession without persecution, and prosperity without being poor in spirit. All of this while the world goes to hell. If we can’t cry for those who are perishing with tears asking God to save them, then we care more about ourselves than others. Notice I said “we” since I am not immune either.
God says that He is close to those who are brokenhearted and the contrite of heart. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” God cannot fix what is first not broken and cannot fill us if we are full of ourselves.
God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, so says James (4:6) but the Greek word for opposed is “to range in battle with” or to “be at war with” so if you read James 4:6 for the way it reads in the Greek, it says “God is at war with the proud” and who wants to be at war with God? Not me! Yes, if we are full of pride, we are more like Satan than God because Satan’s pride caused him to rebel against God and our hearts are wicked if we live a life of pride.
Jesus spoke about many of the signs of His return in Matthew 24 and one of the signs would be when the love of many would grow cold (Matt 24:12). Rather than loving others, “people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud” (2nd Tim 3:2), and “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2nd Tim 3:4). Instead of having a natural affection for others, they love possessions over people. That’s why the Bible teaches that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1st Tim 6:10). Money’s not evil…loving it over God is!
When God gave the Israelites the command to honor their father and mother, this commandment wasn’t written exclusively to them. God expects us to honor our parents, whether they’re living or not. Someone who degrades their parents, especially after they’ve died, is breaking this commandment, and there is no promise of God for a long life on the earth (Ex 20:12). It is so important that God makes it the first of the “horizontal six” commandments, as the first four are directed to God (vertical), but the remaining six relate to our neighbors, like not stealing from them, not lying to them, and not coveting what they have. Yes, your parents and my parents made mistakes, but I’ve had more than my fair share, but the command to honor our father and mother is not conditional on their performance. It’s not based upon on how good or how bad our parents were and are, so one sign of a wicked and hardening heart is not treating your parents with honor and respect, especially in front of others.
God says through Jeremiah the Prophet that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it” (Jer 17:9) but God can give us a heart of flesh and take out the heart of stone. A fleshly heart is more pliable and easier to penetrate, which is just what God wants to do, but if you or someone you know starts losing the conviction of the Spirit, grows in discontentment, never afflicts themselves over their sin, never sheds a tear in prayer or for others to be saved, no brokenness, and a lack of humility, it’s time to get on your (and my) knees and repent, ask for forgiveness, and find your satisfaction in Christ. If Jesus is all you have…you have all you need.