In this study, we will discuss the transformation of the heart.
There is a very serious heart disease we should all know about…it is called "the disease of hard-heartedness."
Many times in the Old Testament, we read that God accused the people of Israel of being hard-hearted. In the New Testament, Jesus would sometimes tell the religious leaders, and even His own followers that their hearts were hard.
Jesus told a parable of a farmer who went out and sowed seeds. You don't have a to have a green thumb to know that the object of sowing seed is to get it into fertile soil so it can take root and produce fruit. Jesus pointed out that often when a farmer would throw seed, some would land on hard-packed soil. That seed was wasted; it would never grow. Jesus went on to explain what He meant by this agricultural story. Some people's hearts are impenetrable, hardened, unresponsive, and callous. The Word of God just bounces off. It doesn't even take root.
One biblical character who had an iron heart was the man who was crucified next to Jesus. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, there was a criminal being executed on His right and another on His left. One was a repentant thief. In the last moments of his life, he softened his heart and said, "Oh Lord, would You remember me?" Jesus said to him, "Today you'll be with Me in paradise." But the other thief, who was being crucified for a life of crime and violence, had a hard heart. He was minutes from death, inches from the Savior, but his heart was like stone. He was busy hurling abuse and insults at Jesus.
And this is what will happen ultimately to those people who spend their whole lives with an attitude of hard-heartedness.
If you were a spiritual doctor doing a test for hard-heartedness, what are some of the symptoms you would look for in your examination?
1. DEFINE A HARD-HEART?
n In the Bible, "hard-heartedness" refers to the unresponsive, stiff, angry, insensitive, rebellious, and independent attitude ruling our hearts. This attitude is first directed toward God, but also toward other people.
n In (John 12:39ff), people in Jesus’ time, like those in the time of Isaiah, would not believe despite the evidence (John 12:37). As a result, God hardened their hearts. Does that mean God intentionally prevented these people from believing in him? No, he simply confirmed their own choices. After a lifetime of resisting God, they had become so set in their ways that they wouldn’t even try to understand Jesus’ message. For such people, it is virtually impossible to come to God—their hearts have been permanently hardened. Other instances of hardened hearts because of constant stubbornness are recorded in Exodus 9:12, Romans 1:24-28, and 2 Thes. 2:8-12.
2. WHAT CAUSES A HARD-HEART?
n The Bible tells us that sin is a root cause for hard-heartedness (Hebrews 3:13). We learn to sin at a very young age. We have a sin nature, and we make sinful choices. Our sins can build up and harden our hearts.
3. DESCRIBE A TIME IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU EXPERIENCED A HARD-HEARTEDNESS TOWARD GOD. HOW DID THIS IMPACT YOUR FAITH AND RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM?
4. ACCORDING TO THE FOLLOWING VERSES, WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF HARD-HEARTEDNESS?
n When our hearts become hard, Jesus is distressed or grieved. He is hurt.
n The result of an unrepentant heart is the eventual wrath of God. Although God doesn't always punish us immediately for our sins, his eventual judgment is certain.
5. READ (1 SAMUAL 16:7). HOW IMPORTANT IS THE HEART TO GOD?
n Our hearts are important to God. What is the heart? The heart is the soul or mind of man. It is the foundation of our thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors.God wants our hearts to be right with Him and not just our outward appearances and actions.
n In (1 Sam. 16), God told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and anoint one of his sons to be the next king. Samuel saw one of Jesses’ sons, Eliab, and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” (1 Sam. 16:7) “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
n It’s the heart that matters to God.In the NT, Jesus condemned the Pharisees and religious leaders for outwardly appearing saintly and holy but inwardly remaining far from God. (Mt. 23:27-28) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
n Brethren, its what is on the inside that matters to God.
6. HOW CAN WE OBTAIN A NEW HEART…A PURE HEART…A HEART THAT PLEASES GOD?
FIRST, WE NEED TO ASK GOD FOR HELP (PSALM 51:10).
n Since we are sinful people, we cannot create by ourselves the kind of heart that God wants us to have. David recognized this when he wrote in (Ps. 51:10) “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
n We need to go to God in prayer and ask Him to change our hearts. (1 Sam. 10:9-10) As Saul was being made the King, “As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart.” Regardless of how far a person’s heart is from God; God can change it.
n In a whirlpool in the Columbia Correctional Institution, a serial Killer named Jeffrey Dahmer was baptized by a Church of Christ minister. According the Christian Chronicle, a church member named, Mary Mott, saw Dahmer on a television show last spring in which he discussed needing “peace” in his life. So Mary sent him a package of all the lessons from the World Bible School series, and a Bible. And she said that immediately, Dahmer completed the lessons and sent them back to her, with a letter expressing his interest in baptism. Several days later, Roy Ratcliff baptized Dahmer. After Dahmer’s baptism, the minister said that “he had a great deal of joy in his heart. He was very happy, very rejoicing.” In fact several weeks later, Dahmer wanted some copies of certain Bible tracts for some other prisoners because he wanted to start evangelizing to the other inmates. It seemed like a change had taken place.
n Did Jeffry Dahmer get his heart right with God? According to Mack Lyon, we would never try to minimize the magnitude of Dahmer’s sins, but that anyone “who is a Christian and professes to know God,” would know that Dahmer was saved in the end. For we all know that a few months after his conversion, Dahmer was murdered in prison by another inmate.
§ Does God have the power to change the hardest of hearts? Yes. Can he change your heart? yes, but you and I need to ask Him for help.
SECOND, TO MAKE CHANGES TO OUR HEARTS WE MUST GET RID OF SIN.
§ A few years ago, I went to my doctor’s office to get my cholesterol checked. Several days later, the nurse gave me the bad news. My cholesterol was too high (268). And so my doctor put me on medicine to get it down to a safe level. The reason why he put me on that medicine is because Cholesterol can build up in your arteries and cause you to have a heart attack. Likewise, sin, like cholesterol, clogs up our spiritual hearts. That’s why we must get rid of it.
§ The point of (Isa. 59:2) is that sin separates us from God. If sin reigns in our hearts and lives, then we are alienating ourselves from God. We have a heart problem when there is sin reigning in our lives.
§ So what do we need to do to get our hearts back right with God? We need to confess our sins to God. (1 Jn. 1:9) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We can’t hide our sins from God, we must acknowledge them before God.
§ When should we confess our sins? Right when the sin is committed. We must confess our sins immediately in order to guard our hearts from sin. A Proverb writer once wrote: (Prov. 4:23) “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
§ We shouldn’t commit a sin and let that sin dwell in us all day. No, we need to guard our hearts from any type of sin that is trying to invade it! Just like Fort Knox has tight security around its facilities so that no one can come in and steal their money, we must have tight security around our hearts by not allowing sin to break in and get our treasures.
§ We need to turn away from our sins. Stop doing what God does not want us to do. (Ezek. 18:21-23) “But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” This passage teaches that if we turn away from our sins, then God will forgive us and He will remember our sins no more. Isn’t that wonderful! That’s the kind of Loving God that we have. If we stop the sinning, then our hearts can be brought back to God.
7. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET ASKED GOD FOR A NEW HEART THOURGH JESUS, WHAT IS STANDING IN THE WAY OF THIS DECISION?
1. The heart is very important to God. It is the wellspring of life.
2. We must guard our hearts against hardness and always have an open and healthy heart towards God.
1. When you have a new heart, you have a desire to be submissive to God. Every morning you need to say, "I give You my life today, Lord." You can start your day singing, "Have Your own way, Lord. Have Your own way. You are the potter, I am the clay." You begin to pray, "Mold me, make me, do whatever you want with my life, it's Yours." It's a submission issue, a flexibility issue, a surrender issue. Your life motto becomes: "Just say the word, Lord." Your soft heart says, "Whatever the Scriptures teach, that's what I want to do." A responsive heart is one that always says yes to the Lord.
2. I pray that our hearts will become the kind of heart that God desires.