Devotional: ‘The Hardening Effect of Sin’

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2 Kings 24:10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. 11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it. 12 And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. 13 And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. 14 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.

In 597 BC, the Babylonian King named Nebuchadnezzar, marched against Jerusalem and captured it. Though Jeremiah and other godly prophets tried to warn the people of the judgment that was to come, most of the Jews refused to repent and turn back to God. Thus began a storm of conquests that continued for over ten years and that eventually left the city in total ruin.

During the first invasion Nebuchadnezzar plundered the Temple and carried away many of the gold utensils Solomon had made for worship. In addition, Nebuchadnezzar captured many of the city’s most prominent people and carried them away to Babylon. The Bible says that “none remained except for the poorest of the people.” Among those exiled was the prophet Ezekiel along with others like Daniel and his three young friends.

One would think that this would be a serious ‘wake-up call.’ Who wouldn’t repent and turn back to God when they could see what was happening? Yet the Bible warns us of the deadening effect of sin.

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

The Bible speaks of our hearts being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The word ‘hardened’ means to make stubborn or rebellious. Sin puts an edge on us that is difficult to penetrate. Paul writes of those whose ‘conscience has been seared with a hot iron.” (1 Tim 4:2) Like a hand that becomes hard and calloused with rough work, so the heart can become dull and indifferent to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

It is because of this that we must do all that we can to guard our hearts and to keep them spiritually sensitive. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that we must constantly watch over each other. ‘Beware brethren’ he warns us. What happens to some can happen to any of us. Consider David, a man after God’s own heart. Lust seized his heart and caused him to commit adultery and murder. Consider also his son Solomon. The Bible says that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and his book of Proverbs is full of warnings against being caught up in lust and sinful pleasure. Yet this wise man acted very foolishly. His great prosperity pulled him away from God. In his own words he said, “So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy… (Ecc 2:9-10)

It is because of this that the Bible tells us to watch over ourselves and our fellow brethren – daily. Exhort one another daily, while it is called today. Tomorrow may be too late.

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