This last Sunday, I gave a word of exhortation to all my listeners to immerse themselves in the Word of God. I didn’t have enough time to include all that I thought would be practically beneficial about this, so I’m writing a blog post with some of what I couldn’t include in the sermon.
When we see Hebrews 4:7 in light of Hebrews 4:12 (especially in the immediate context), we can connect the exhortation: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” to the implied exhortation to immerse yourself in the Word of God as the Word of God. This is how we fight for steadfast faith. In order to fight for a sincere and surrendered heart toward God, we must fight for a soft and submissive toward God’s voice/Word.
The Hardened Heart
Hardening your heart against God’s Word can take various forms. It can be a flat denial of its truthfulness; open hatred and antagonism toward its values; intentional twisting/using/abusing of its authority for selfish gain; defiantly disobeying its commands; and the like. However, a hardened heart against the Word of God can also be a much more subtle rejection: Unintentionally minimizing its importance; being chronically apathetic about its centrality; giving little or no time to read, study, and listen to it; paying sloppy or superficial attention to its content; etc.
Do you do this? Do you go days, weeks, or even months without really reading the Bible? Do you regularly read the Bible simply to check off a box? Do you find it too taxing to give serious and devoted time studying the Scriptures? Do you fail to plan ahead and redeem the time that God does give you to seek Him in His Word (yet somehow find time to check the news, your social media feeds, and YouTube videos 5 times a day)? Do you refrain from reading the Bible prayerfully and with an eye toward having your own sins exposed for the purpose of repenting? Do you read the Bible or listen to sermons lazily (not striving/making every effort), being put off if you don’t walk away with immediate warm fuzzies? Do you struggle to maintain a healthy schedule in your life that allows for time in the Word both for yourself and for your spouse/kids/friends? Do you pray for your pastors to preach better and for yourself to listen better?
In order to have a heart hardened against the voice of God, all you have to do is nothing. It is the default direction of sinners like us living in a fallen world. In order to have a soft, receptive, submissive, and steadfast heart of genuine humility and faith and love and worship toward Christ, we must fight to immerse ourselves in the Word of God as the Word of God!
Do you desire to read the Bible and listen to it preached wherein your mind is stretched, your heart is stirred, your faith is strengthened, and your commitments are solidified? Do you want your love for God to grow? Do you yearn for greater power of sin in your life? Do you long for greater effectiveness and faithfulness in your ministering to others? Do you feel the need for greater wisdom and understanding in a world of confusion and lies? Do you feel the need for greater stability and peace in times of turmoil and suffering? Then take up the Bible and immerse yourself in it as the living and active Word of God that it is, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart!
(This is the first of a 3-post series.)