In Psalms 139, David prayed, search me,
O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, see if
there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
David’s prayer was essentially for God to reveal his faults and
innermost inadequacies. I don’t believe that David was praying for the
Lord to reveal his faults though, because he was overly excited by his
own falleness. He wanted God to reveal to him the faults even of his
heart to help him to correct the problem. That would give him a place to
was really hard on the Pharisees, and the main reason was because of
their hardened stone hearts. It blows me away how people that possessed s
much knowledge about God, and a people that did so much in the name of
God, could have hearts as hard as they did. The Pharisees had hearts of
stone. They could find joy in the disgrace of a woman caught in the act
of adultery and take pride in the fulfillment of the law to stone her to
death. They could look at the situations of Jesus doing good and find
fault in them. Their hearts were made of stone.
The hard hearted are not always the easiest to identify however. Just
because a person is doing certain things that we think are good does not
guarantee that their heart is not stone. Just because you come to
church does not mean that your heart is not stone. Just because you read
your Bible and pray does not mean that your heart is not stone. Just
because you don’t drink, chew or go with girls who do does not mean that
your heart is not hard. In fact, it was the people that were doing
those things is Jesus’ day that he accused of having hard hearts made of
Perhaps today we you can make a diagnosis about the condition of your heart and the good news is that the problem is treatable and there is a cure that exists.
1. Lost Compassion for the sick, hurting and sinner One of the symptoms of a heart of stone is
a loss of compassion. One of the earmarks of our faith is the
compassion that we should have for other people. There have been times
in my life where I know I have been stone hearted to the sick and the
sinner. There have been times that I have passed by people that were in
need of love and compassion, and I walked by unmoved. I have had periods
in life where my heart was stone. Perhaps you can identify with me
here. How do you feel when you see a person that cannot afford to buy
their own food? Do you think to yourself that they are getting what they
deserve, or that they should get a job and stop asking for handouts?
The truth is, that is not how we have been called to view people and
that is not how Jesus viewed people. Sometimes I respond like that, but
that is revealing of a stone heart. Sometimes I am more zealous for
justice to be served and people to get what they deserve than I am for
people to receive grace and mercy. That is indicative of a stone heart.
Perhaps some of you can identify with me. How do you feel when you
learn that a brother or sister in Christ is living in sin? Do you
respond hoping that judgment will be served on them? Perhaps today you
have lost your sense of compassion on the hurting. How do you respond to
sinner’s coming to Christ? Do you think that you’ll have to wait around
for this person to be dunked? Do you still have a passion for what is
going on around the world? Our hearts should break over the very things that break the heart of God and we should be moved to action.
2. Lost Desire to Grow and do God’s will As Christians we are in the process of
being changed and transformed into the image of God. Over time, however,
many loose their desire to continue to grow in their faith and to do
God’s will. It is when we stop growing and stop caring to grow that we
can tell that our hearts have become callused. Often times it is our own
conscious choices which create opportunities for our own spiritual
maturity. When we stop caring to create those opportunities we know that
our hearts are hardening. The Dictionary defines apathy as a lack of
interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance
or appeal; indifference. A lack of emotion or feeling.
People with a stone heart are apathetic.
They do not care about spiritual growth; they are perfectly content
where they are in life. Someone once told a teenager that the greatest
problem he faced was complacency. He responded, “Who cares?” People with
stone hearts think that they are okay because of their pas victories,
because of how spiritual they used to be or how faithful they once were,
but they are forgetful of what their heart condition is now. Perhaps,
you have lost your desire to grow, perhaps you are apathetic toward
learning God’s Word. Perhaps you long for excuses to miss church or
Sunday school, perhaps your heart has turned to stone. Some have the
attitude of who cares, or they don’t need to grow, learn or conform more
into God’s image. If so it needs to be chiseled away at.
3. Lost Excitement in the work of God Another way to diagnose a stone heart is
when one looses excitement in the work of God. Christians should be
excited about hearing stories of victory in the kingdom, of souls be
saved, of lived being changed. Christians should be excited to serve God
and to be used by Him. Perhaps today you can diagnose a heart of stone.
Please know that softening your heart begins by slowly chiseling away at a stone heart.
II. How do our hearts turn to stone?
1. The Continued Practice of Sin Hardens the Heart One thing that will harden a person’s
heart faster than anything else is the continued practice of sin.
Despite what many people will tell you, it really does matter what you
do and how you act. Sin is unique in that it usually leads to more.
Usually sin starts out with something small and grows and matures into
something bigger. There is an old saying that says: Sow a thought reap a deed Sow a deed reap a habit Sow a habit reap a judgment James 1:13-15 The reality is that we are all sinners. We
all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but the Scripture
makes a clear separation between sinning and the continued practice of
sin. Sin is just a part of life, it is not justified and sin is wrong,
and we need to strive to avoid sin, but it is the continued practice of
sin, or a sinful lifestyle that hardens the heart. Perhaps today you
have stayed coming to church, but have been living in a state of sin.
Perhaps it is sin that no one knows about and you have kept hidden.
Perhaps you have been putting on a front and everyone thinks that you
are really righteous. Let me assure you that God knows every thought and
action and one day sin will be uncovered and revealed by God. Perhaps
you haven’t thought it was a very big deal, but let me tell you that sin
is a big deal because it violates the nature of God. The main trait
that we learn about God in the Bible is not his love or grace, but
rather his holiness. Sin violates the holiness of God and we with sin
cannot come into God’s presence. Sin brings about the wrath of God
because He is holy. Because of sin we will all encounter God’s wrath, we
will face it either at judgment or we will encounter God’s wrath on the
cross where Jesus bore our sin and the wrath of God. The Scripture says
that God made him who knew no sin to become sin for us so that we might
know the righteousness of God. Perhaps today you have been living in
constant unrepented sin and haven’t thought it a big deal and you’ve
thought that it was okay to sin because God will forgive you. It is sin
that hardens the heart.
a. Our World’s Standards are not necessarily God’s standards Our world has tried to teach us what is
right and wrong. Many in the church have bought into the lie that if it
is accepted by the world that it is accepted by God, but the world’s
standards are not necessarily God’s standards. Ezekiel 11:12
I want you to
know plainly that sin is a big deal essentially because of what you are
saying when you are living in a constant state of sin. One of the
speakers at camp said that sin is us essentially saying that we want to
kill God and take his place on the throne. I think that is true when you
take sin to its next logical step. Sin is violating the law of God and
us saying that we do not have to submit to the authority of God. Sin is a
big deal and it is sin that separates us from God. I want you to be
aware that the continued practice of sin hardens the heart to stone. I
want to encourage you if you are living in sin, repent, and don’t live
in it any longer. The continued practice of sin will magnify into greater sin and eventually a hardened heart.
2. The Removal From God’s Presence and People Hardens the Heart I love to watch a good fire burn. To me it
is really cool to watch how when you put a bunch of logs together they
can make a huge flame. When I would go to camp we would make the largest
fires that were possible. One thing about those fires is that when you
remove one log from the group of logs, that fire soon dies out in the
one removed. It is the same with us when we are away from the presence
of God and His people. A lot of people put any and everything before
attending church, but let me assure you one quick way to turn your heart
to stone is to stay out of the church. Missing just a few times will
make one calloused and hardened. The Scriptures teach that as iron
sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. The Fellowship God’s people is important and missing church, the removal from God’s presence and people hardens the heart.
III. How do we Soften Stone Hearts?
Maybe today you sit here and you realize
maybe your heart has turned to stone. Maybe you are wondering what you
can do for your heart to be made soft again. I want to tell you that it
begins by chiseling away at the stone. Many things may have come into
your life and slowly hardened your heart, today you can chisel away at
that heart of stone.
1. The Spirit of God Chisels Away at Hard Hearts One
of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction to people’s
hearts. It was the Holy Spirit working on the hearts of the Jews on
Pentecost when they said, they were pierced to the heart. Perhaps today
the Spirit is working on your hearts and bringing conviction through the
Word of God, if so I hope that the conviction you may feel will be
taken as a message from God. People respond all sorts of ways when they
feel convicted. Some people push it off and take it as nothing. Other
people heed that conviction and are thankful that God has revealed to
them the errors of their ways. Maybe the Spirit of God is trying to chisel away at your heart of stone.
2. The Word of God Chisels Away at Hard Hearts The Word of God is one of the most
powerful things that there is. It is the Word of God that is called the
sword of the Spirit and is our weapon against the Devil. The Word of God
tells us what it is that God expects of us. We learn right from wrong
and we learn God’s standard. We can learn in His Word where we are not
living up to what God expects. It is in the Word of God that we can find
help for our problems, we can claim promises that God gives us, we can
learn the way of chiseling away at our hearts.
3. The Fellowship of the Saints Chisels Away at Hard Hearts The fellowship of the saints, of God’s
people is one of the greatest remedies for the hard heart. There is
something special about gathering in fellowship that has a away of
softening the heart. If your heart is hard one of the best things you
can do is consciously make a choice to be where God’s people are, find
opportunities to fellowship. Today, perhaps by being with God’s people
your heart is being chiseled away at.
4. The Guarding of our Hearts Chisels Away at Hard Hearts I believe another way that our hearts are
softened and chiseled away at is by being careful what we allow into our
hearts. Jesus taught plainly, that t really does matter what you allow
into your hearts, because that goes to your heart and eventually will
come out. Proverbs 4:23 Perhaps, you need to guard your heart and
remove some things from your way so that you are not polluting your mind
and heart. By guarding your heart and keeping yourself clear from
impure things you can chisel away at your hard heart. 5. The Repentance of Sin Chisels Away at Hard Hearts The best way to soften a hard heart is
through repentance of sin. It is through repentance that we have the
promise of wipping our slates clean and being made right. We have the
promise of forgiveness of sins. I John 1:9 Perhaps today your heart has become hard. I
want to encourage you today to repent of that sin that had held you
back from God. Repentance is not just being sorry for the sins that you
have committed though, it is a change in the lifestyle for the better.