The Danger of a Cold Heart

The Danger of a Cold Heart

We believe Jesus Christ is here this morning. Right? No, we cannot see Him physically, but we know He is here, because He said He would never leave us and He sent His Spirit to be with us and in us. So, we can hear His voice in His Word and we sense His presence.

Now, how would you react if Jesus said to us, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me”? Would you wonder to whom He is referring? Would you ask, “Is it me?”

That would be a shocking and fearful thing to hear from Jesus this morning, wouldn’t it? Nevertheless, it is exactly what the disciples heard from Him at the Last Supper.

Matthew 26:20-25 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

We might breathe a sigh of relief that Jesus was referring to Judas instead of us. However, Jesus also said something about the future that should shock all of us with holy fear.

Matthew 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

I wonder, “Is it I, Lord? Will I be one of the ‘most’?” Or, could He be referring to you?

Notice this is not a sudden event but a gradual process. As wickedness gradually increases, the love most people have for Christ and for one another will gradually grow cold. This is a divine warning to us this morning, because we are witnessing an increase in wickedness!

Hebrews 2:1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

According to Jesus, many will be influenced by the world and gradually return to old sinful ways. The nature of sin is that you gradually get used to it, and eventually you do not acknowledge that it is sin. The progression is this: First we overlook evil. Then we permit evil. Then we legalize evil. Then we promote evil. Then we celebrate evil. Then we persecute those who still call it evil. (example: homosexuality)

Today evil is called good and good is called evil. Those who speak against evil are called “haters”. There is a move to legislate such speech as a “hate crime”. To avoid persecution, many will accept the lies and fall away from the truth. Then, their heart will grow cold.

Hebrews 3:12-15 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

A cold or hard heart comes from gradually falling away from the living God. Coldness brings a numbness and hardness of the heart that no longer feels conviction from the Holy Spirit. Coldness causes us to fall under a great deception, believing lies rather than truth. The deception will cause us to rationalize sin as a beneficial thing, a right, or a freedom. Those with a cold heart deliberately sin and eventually come under the wrath of God.

Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Romans 1:18-21 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Symptoms of a heart that is growing cold:
1) Neglects daily time for Bible reading and prayer.

2) Rejects the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Seeks another gospel.
3) An uncooperative spirit towards others who don’t do things "my way".

4) A desire for things of the world instead of the things of God’s Kingdom.

5) Unconcerned about those who are lost.
6) Hides sin and tells lies to cover it up.

7) Blames others when his sin is exposed and shows no remorse.

Ephesians 4:17-20 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.

What could cause a believer to develop a cold, hard heart? There are several factors.

1. Trials. Many become disenchanted with God because they suffer trials of many kinds. They don’t feel like worshipping God or giving Him thanks in all circumstances.

For example, if we suffer the loss of a loved one and we don’t maintain a worshipping attitude, coldness and hardness toward God will develop, producing despair in our own souls. The despair will cause us to give up and fall away from God.

Jesus forewarned us about trials and trouble in this world. John 16:33 "I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

2. Prayers not answered. Many also become disenchanted with God when He does not answer their prayers according to their will. Instead of expressing thankfulness, trust, peace, and joy, they complain and become angry at God. If they don’t repent and trust God again, they will eventually turn their back on Him and turn back to the ways of the world.

James 4:3-4 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

3. Ungodly friends. If you love your ungodly friends and relatives more than you love God, they will turn your heart away from God. To keep their affection, you will do what they say instead of what God says.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

4. No fear of God. To fear the LORD is to hate evil. Without the fear of the LORD, we rationalize our sin, we believe our circumstances are an exception to God’s commands, and we claim “once saved always saved” as the gospel, which is no gospel at all.

Proverbs 1:28-31 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.

When there is no fear of God, people invent their own gospel—another gospel where there is no hell, no one to answer to, where there is tolerance for all religions and sexual perversions—a gospel where all are loved, nothing is wrong with you, there is no judgment, no wrath, no sinner; and, contrary to their belief—no salvation.

1 Timothy 4:1-2 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

5. Scoffers cause doubt. Listening to scoffers creates doubt in our soul and causes us to follow our own evil desires instead of Jesus. If we don’t reject the doubt and focus on the Jesus, our heart will grow cold. A cold, doubtful heart turns us into a critical scoffer.

2 Peter 3:2-9 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Therefore, when scoffing criticism and harshness begin to creep into our attitude towards God or another person, we may be certain we are growing cold. Criticism makes us vindictive and leaves us with the flattering belief that we are a superior person.

So, is your heart growing cold and hard? How long has it been since you have had a heart exam? We need to let the Holy Spirit examine our heart continually to see if there is any wicked way, any coldness, or any hardness in it.

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

The first thing the Holy Spirit does is bring conviction and humility. I have never met a person I could criticize after having seen all the sin in me apart from the grace of God.

Then the Holy Spirit leads us into repentance so that He can fill us with Himself. The antidote for coldness and hardening of the heart is God’s love. Love and humility, from the Holy Spirit, is what keeps the heart warm and soft towards God and other people.

The danger this morning is that we have listened to another sermon, given mental assent to the truth, and then we continue doing what we always have done. God is giving us a wake-up call! Remember what Jesus said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Are you prepared for the increase of wickedness and the pandemonium and persecution that it will come upon us? Will your love gradually grow cold? The Holy Spirit is calling us to wake up from our drifting and surrender all to Jesus today and every day here after.

We are not to fear the future, any man, rejection, or persecution. We are to fear God only. We are to focus on Christ, and be filled with the Holy Spirit daily. Then we will have God’s peace and His rest.

For those who truly loved and followed Jesus but now are cold and indifferent, the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. He is inviting you to come back to the merciful arms of Jesus. It is His love for you that brings you this warning today.

Through confession and repentance, earnestly seek your Father in Heaven. Ask Him to rekindle a fire in your cold heart and fill you with the Holy Spirit today.

To you, who have never accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior or been baptized in His Name, I have good news. The devil has no claim on you except what you give to him. He did not die for you. Jesus died for you and purchased eternal life for you with His own blood. But He won’t force you to accept Him and give your life to Him. Jesus made the first move on the Cross. You must make the next move. You must choose whom you will serve, the devil or the Lord. There is no other choice.

Jesus’ invitation is for you to come to Him as you are. He loves you. There is mercy and forgiveness available through faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and His atonement on the cross. After you come to Him and die to yourself in baptism, the Holy Spirit will give you a new life and the righteousness of Christ. He will transform you gradually into the image of Christ.