Monday, February 15, 2016
The Self-Hardening of One’s Heart
Do we not all know as a fact of experience, our own experience and observation of others, that persistent disobedience of God’s will and God’s ways always produces a hardening? Every time you commit a sin you become less sensitive. Every time you repeat a sin your conscience troubles you less than it did before. The first time, there is an agony, there is a kind of crisis, there is a regret, a remorse, and a sense of shame; but is it not true to say that as you go on repeating the same act there is less and less shame, less and less regret, less and less remorse? What is that due to? Oh! that is the hardening, the hardening of the heart! It becomes less and less capable of response, less and less capable of reaction, less and less sensitive to appeals. There is nothing in life that I know of that is more tragic than to watch the gradual decline and hardening of a soul. Have you not seen it? Any person over fifty years of age must, alas! have seen it many a time; how a man you knew as a young man has just gradually become harder and harder and colder and colder, and seems now to be utterly insensitive. Hardening of the heart! It is an appalling thing, it is one of the saddest things in life. And what makes it even worse, is that men quite deliberately cultivate it.
As the quotation in Hebrews 3 points out to us, for the purposes of sin men and women deliberately harden their hearts. And of course you have got to do that if you want to enjoy sin. While the heart is tender and supple you cannot enjoy sin because your heart is protesting the whole time, and the remorse follows, and it takes away all your pleasure. So that if you want to enjoy a life of sin you have got somehow or other to do something to your heart, you must harden it, lest, in spite of all the modern theorising, it should keep on asserting itself. A man says, I have come to the conclusion there is no God; this talk about morality and religion is all nonsense, and I am going to live as I like. But, although he decides that, his heart goes on telling him that there is a God. When he breaks the sabbath he remembers [Christians do not have a sabbath!]; he wishes he did not remember, but his heart goes on speaking; he does wrong things, and his heart speaks. A battle goes on within him. There is only one thing to do, he must somehow try to silence his heart! Long after the intellect has capitulated the heart goes on making its protests! And so men discover that the only way to enjoy sin is somehow or other to silence the heart, to harden it.
If I were asked to state what, in my opinion, is the most outstanding characteristic of life outside of Christ today, I would without any hesitation say that it is the hardness of the heart of man.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Darkness and Light: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:17-5:17,” pgs. 70-71