Satan seeks hearts and minds

Ephesians 4:17–27

When we take notice of God, the devil takes notice of us.

For example, when we began our daily prayer we started to have troubles. We turned to God with a promise that we would be united in prayer every day at 12:15pm. We began praying daily in agreement with each other for God’s work in Korea and Jinju. The devil sent a rapid reaction force. He got out his riot troops. He made people ill. He caused problems and distractions.

A major tactic of the devil is to harden our hearts. It might help us to think a little more closely about what a hard heart is.

Hebrews 3:12–13 says that you have a hard heart when you turn away from God and are deceived by sin.

‘Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.’

형제 여러분, 여러분 가운데서 믿지 않는 악한 마음을 품고 살아 계신 하나님을 떠나가는 사람이 생기지 않도록 조심하십시오. 여러분은 ‘오늘’이라는 시간이 있을 동안에 매일 서로 권면하여 아무도 죄의 유혹으로 못된 고집을 부리지 않게 하십시오.

Our reading this morning told us that non-believers are hopelessly confused about God because they have hard hearts.

“Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.”

Jesus told his disciples more than once that they didn’t understand because they had hard hearts. In Mark 8 we see Jesus and his disciples in a boat just after feeding four thousand people. The disciples started to argue because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus said, “Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in?”

Their hard hearts prevented them from understanding.

How can we have understanding? We need to listen to Jesus. Follow Jesus. Obey Jesus. Look at John 8:12 – ‘Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”’

후에 예수님은 사람들에게 다시 말씀하셨다. “나는 세상의 빛이다. 나를 따르는 사람은 어두움에 다니지 않고 생명의 빛을 받을 것이다.”

How can Jesus say this? It is because he is ‘the Word’. John 1:1 – ‘In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ And in verse 9 we read that Jesus “is the true light, who gives light to everyone”.

John points us back to the creation in order to understand.

We know that everything that exists does so because it was created by God. And we know that everything was created by God speaking. Creation came about through the word of God.

God spoke and it came into existence.

Notice how it all went wrong. In Genesis 3:1 the serpent talks to the woman. It’s words again, but false words. Lies. With words the devil hardens her heart so that Eve cannot understand.

Not only that, but she also forgets what God had told her. Forgetting is part of having a hard heart. If you listen to the devil, your heart will quickly grow hard and you will forget what God told you. You may have seen this very thing happen to people who fell away from the church.

Those people who listen to God find their hearts softened and understanding comes to them. They remember all the good things God has done and said.

God says in Ezekiel 36:26 – “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”

그리고 내가 너희에게 새 마음을 주고 너희 속에 새 정신을 넣어 주며 너희에게서 돌같이 굳은 마음을 제거하고 순종하는 마음을 줄 것이며 또 내 영을 너희 속에 넣어 주어 너희가 내 법을 따르고 내 명령을 준수하게 하겠다.

How will God do that? God did it by sending his word to earth. His word was clothed in flesh and his word walked among us. John 1:14 makes it clear.

“The Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.”

말씀 되시는 그리스도께서 사람이 되어 우리 가운데 사셨다. 우리가 그분의 영광을 보니 하나님 아버지의 외아들의 영광이었고 은혜와 진리가 충만하였다.

Jesus softens our hearts. The answer to a hard heart is Jesus. Every time you say ‘I don’t understand’, it is another sign that you need to turn to Jesus and listen to him.

Turn back to Mark’s Gospel and see what Mark says there about the disciples. In chapter eight we see that the disciples were concerned with their meager bread supply, and it was clear that each of them had forgotten how Jesus had just fed thousands with only a few loaves. Questioning them as to the hardness of their hearts, Jesus spells out for us the characteristics of this spiritual heart condition. A hard heart is an inability to see, understand, hear and remember.

Just like Eve, just like the first disciples, we often forget how God has blessed us and what he has done for us. Similar to the disciples in this instance or the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, when a new calamity arises in our lives, our hearts often fill with fear and concern.

What did we see all around us when people started dying from MERS and more than 3,000 were quarantined? How did you react? How did your neighbour react?

What you remember shows the state of your heart. When people are hardhearted toward God, it’s like they are spiritually blind and deaf—they just can’t see spiritual truth or hear the Lord speak to them. And they can’t remember. Not remembering is a major indication of the condition of their hearts. Eve couldn’t remember what God had said about eating the fruit.

The disciples forgot about the miracle Jesus had just performed and thought only about bread in terms of physical loaves. They were shocked when Jesus walked on water.

Likewise, if we were not so dominated by considering the natural world and its ways, we would not be surprised by supernatural events. We should expect to see the miraculous power of God manifest in our lives all the time. But the truth is, our hearts have become hardened toward God and his supernatural power because of our failure to stay focused on spiritual things.

One of the benefits of understanding what causes hardheartedness is that you can reverse this process and use it to become hardened against the devil.

That is absolutely true. You have the power to determine what your heart accepts or rejects.

For example, you cannot be tempted with something you cannot think. Eve wasn’t tempted by Satan until she listened to him explain what was possible and started to think about his words, and forgot what God had said.

You won’t act in a way that you haven’t already considered in your mind. So, control your thoughts and you’ll control your actions. That’s simple but profound. Most people don’t operate that way.

What I’m trying to explain this morning is that Satan is hard at work trying to harden our hearts to God and make us forget about God. He is especially hard at work right now because we are making a special effort each day to talk to God and listen to his word. We are repenting each day at 12:15pm and asking God to have his way with us. We are pleading for soft hearts.

So the devil is making trouble. He is trying to get our attention. It isn’t hard. So many things in this world are designed to divert our attention away from the true word (Jesus) onto the false word and the lies of the devil.

Our television sets are false prophets. Facebook can be a false prophet. The books we choose to read, the music we choose to listen to, the films we choose to watch, the game we choose to play. Pouring out from them all there are words. Do these words draw us close to God and soften our hearts, and bring understanding, or do they harden our hearts and cloud our minds with disbelief.

In this time of attack by the devil, we need to seek out the true word and turn away from the lies of the devil and the false prophets.

If we don’t then our fate is to forget God and have no understanding. We will be judged at the last day by whether we accepted the truth of Jesus or the lies of the devil.

In John 12:48 Jesus says, ‘All who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.’

Jesus is the only hope for Korea. Jesus is the only hope in the fight against all kinds of injustice and illness. Jesus is the true word who gives us true life.

“To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:13)

이 사람들이 하나님의 자녀가 된 것은 핏줄이나 육체적 욕망이나 사람의 뜻으로 된 것이 아니라 하나님의 뜻에 의해서 된 것이다.

Amen 아멘

About Pastor Simon

Pastor at Jinju International Christian Fellowship. Formerly of Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK. I am Simon Warner of Jinju Church. We speak English at Jinju Church, South Korea.
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