Have you ever thought about the fact that it is only the pinnacle of God’s creation who can actually say 'no' to God? It is true that all creation groans under the weight of sin, but it is only human beings who can disobey and say 'no' to God.
It is a foolish thing to say ‘no’ to God as Jonah also experienced when he was asked to go to the city of Nineveh. However, it is not only foolish, it is downright dangerous to say ‘no’ to God, for you may not be given too many opportunities to say ‘yes’ to God. God’s patience with the wicked, although long-suffering, is not limitless as was experienced in the days of Noah. Furthermore, there is evidence in Scripture to suggest that if you keep saying ‘no’ to God, He may withdraw His grace and allow your heart to be hardened against Him because of your disobedience.
In Exodus 7:3 we see God hardening Pharaoh’s heart and in Ch 8:15, 19, 32, Pharaoh hardening his own heart towards God. When people continually reject God and His gracious offer to embrace His Son as Saviour and Lord, then there may come a time when the opportunity to obey and embrace the offer of salvation is withdrawn and people will no longer be able to accept and obey.
According to trained children workers, this hardening is similar to what happens to children who have been neglected by their parents. Some parents have never taught their children the true meaning of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ or the way of obedience and hence some children do not know what they are or are not allowed to do. As a result, they do not take authority seriously until the police insist that ‘no’ means ‘No’. Sadly, trained children workers must often admit that such children are no longer teachable. They are hardened.
People who continually refuse to obey God and embrace Jesus Christ as Saviour are playing a dangerous game. While at the beginning they will not believe, in the end they may not be able to believe. The writer to Hebrews regular appeals to his readers, “Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your heart as you did in the rebellion.” According to Scripture, there is a connection to unbelief, disobedience and a hardened heart.
Now before we become judge and executioner, it is only God who knows the process of hardening. It is not up to us to declare that someone has reached the point of no return. In fact, our responsibility is to continue to reach out to the lost with the gospel, even towards those whose membership of the church has lapsed through whatever means. Our first step towards those who are outside of Christ’s kingdom is not condemnation, but a positive, loving, winsome approach with the good news of embracing Christ as Saviour. While doing so, all the time praying that the Holy Spirit would soften their hearts and wills towards the gospel and that they would no longer keep playing the dangerous game of saying ‘no’ and disobeying the good offer of the gospel. JZ