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It is crucial that we receive every word of God.
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:4)
… Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:2)
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple … Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. (Psalm 19:7,12)
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (John 15:3)
A hard heart is unwilling to hear what the word of God has to say on a given matter, particularly when it is corrective.
But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 7:11,12)
Circumcision of the flesh was a sign of God’s covenant with His people. The covenant obligation of God’s people is to love Him through obedience. Circumcised hearts should result in circumcised ears. Stephen rebuked the Sanhedrin for being uncircumcised in both heart and ears. He located resistance to the Holy Spirit as the cause of their fathers persecution of the prophets, and their murder of the Messiah.
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:51,52)
There is inevitable antagonism and conflict between those speak God’s word and those who have hardened their hearts.
An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked. (Proverbs 29:27)
Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die. (Proverbs 15:10)
A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise. (Proverbs 15:12)
They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. (Amos 5:10)
The Sanhedrin were enraged by the reproving light that Stephen shone on their darkness. They “stopped their ears” from hearing anything more he had to say to them; and in anger and hatred, murdered him.
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. (Acts 7:54-58)
The Sanhedrin were the supreme religious body of the Jewish nation. Of all the people, they should have had eyes to see the truth. It is hard to believe that those who should be the most “wise” and the “prudent” among God’s people become “unlearned” fools.
For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:
And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. (Isaiah 29:10-14)
Paul recognized the blindness of heart behind the bulk of his brethren being incapable of receiving, not only the gospel, but the message of the Old Testament. He believed the vail could and would be taken away when there was a true turning to the Lord.
But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. (2 Corinthians 3:14-16)
True conversion begins when we are willing to hear all that God would say to us. God is ready to save anyone at anytime; but people stay unsaved because they harden their hearts to His Word.
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Matthew 13:14,14)
Religious people display hard hearts when they refuse to receive the parts of God’s Word that clash with their cherished traditions.
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mark 7:13)
The refusal of many to receive the instruction of the whole word of God, does not mean they wish to abandon religion. They simply find leaders whose message is shaped by and caters to what they want to hear.
Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:
That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (Isaiah 30:8-11)
Bad theology develops in response to hardened hearts that will not “endure sound doctrine.”
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
The apostles warned that the church would be infiltrated by false teachers, who would promote “damnable heresies.” Such false doctrines would hinder obedience; and worse, remove those who embrace them from continuing in the grace of Christ.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:3-5)
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2 Peter 2:1,2)
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6,7)
Bad theology is a major hindrance to the reception of the truth of God’s Word.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? (Galatians 3:1)
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? (Galatians 5:7) Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16)
For the soil of one’s heart to become good ground, ready to receive all of God’s Word, error once received must be renounced.
Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:2)