And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. (Mark 3:5, KJV)
Jesus was grieved by the hardness of the Pharisees’ hearts. Let us briefly explore what a hardened heart signifies and four signs that may indicate our hearts have become hardened.
The term “hardness” is metaphorical, derived from a type of marble and used to describe the callus on fractured bones. In the spiritual context, it denotes a state characterized by a complete lack of understanding, dullness, insensibility, or obstinacy—a condition devoid of feeling and spiritual perception.
Here are four signs to watch for that may indicate a hardened heart in our lives:
Lack of Understanding: A hardened heart cannot grasp the things of God; it is spiritually dull. As Paul states, “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” (Ephesians 4:18, ESV).
Insensibility: This is a closed mind, closed to truth. Picture a hardened heart as impenetrable as rock, resisting the life-giving waters of truth. For example, the hardness of heart seen in Israel closed their minds to recognizing Jesus as their Messiah (Romans 11:25).
Stubbornness: A hardened heart is not only closed but also stubbornly resistant to learning. Often, we zealously defend our opinions, even when they are misguided. This stubbornness of heart grieved Jesus in Mark 3:5. The Pharisees had been so hardened by the Law they couldn’t accept God Himself who had given them the Law. Sadly, similar to the Law, theology and denominational doctrines can have a similar hardening effect today.
Inability to Believe and Disobedience: Hebrews 3:12-19 beautifully illustrates that a hardened heart finds it difficult to believe God’s Word, leading to disobedience and sinful behavior.
In conclusion, these signs are interrelated and often coexist. Additionally, it’s crucial to note that while unbelievers may be hardened by default, believers can also slip into a hardened state. The presence of any of these signs in your heart and life should be a red flashing light to warn you that you are on the path to dangerous spiritual territory.
Can you identify the four signs of a hardened heart discussed above?
Apply the Word
A hardened heart grieves Jesus and the Holy Spirit. As believers, maintaining a tender heart requires consistent prayer and immersion in God’s Word. God’s presence is the only source of water that can soften the hardened ground of our hearts. If you recognize any of these signs in your life, take immediate action.
Ask the Father to help you overcome any hardness of heart.
- What is a hardened heart?
- The Religious Spirit Hardens the Heart
- Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit
- A Hammer that Breaks the Rock into Pieces
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