“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. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.” (Ephesians 4:18-19 NLT)
Have you ever been working on your car or other type of machine and you ran into a nut you just couldn’t get loose. Try as you may, it wasn’t budging. You’ve just run into an obdurate nut. The verses above describe an obdurate person. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “obdurate” as “stubbornly resistant; unyielding, inflexible, adamant.” Trust me when I say, obduracy is a factor that deters when it comes to being a Jesus follower.
How do you get through to a person like that? You don’t…without prayer! Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5: “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”
How does a person get to the point where all they can think about is following the desires of their lust-filled heart? Anyone’s journey, whether towards a life of holiness and obedience to the Lord, or away from Him to a life “full of darkness” begins in the mind. What you think about comes about. What you feed your eyes and ears feeds your mind and nourishes or defiles your heart.
As a rule, human beings don’t change the direction of their life without good reason. When we’re young and impressionable we often seek to follow the lifestyle of someone we respect or want to impress. If they’re a Jesus follower, it plants the seed in our mind that following Jesus is a legitimate path in which to invest our life.
However, if our “role model” is God-defiant, belligerent, and shows no remorse for their sinful lifestyle, that may very well be the path we choose. But the frightening factor is that we often follow our course of choice without giving it a lot of thought. If someone were to ask: “Why are you an alcoholic? Spouse abuser? Money-lover? Possessions pursuer? ____________ and you can fill in the blank, the vast majority of the answers would be: “I don’t know. Why does it matter?”
Our lives are often not built, they’re accumulated. In the small town in which I grew up, a young boy’s dream was to own a nice car. Why? Nice cars attracted girls (or so the theory went). But cars aren’t free. To own a car, you had to have income. So, unless your parents were rich, you had to get a job. So, you get a part time job to pay for your car, to get you a girl, OOOOOPPPPPSSSSS, who gets pregnant. So, you get married and now your part-time job isn’t enough, so…! You get the picture.
The scenarios are varied, but the end result is, we often end up in a lifestyle that chooses us, not one we’ve chosen for ourselves. Similarly, most people don’t choose hell, hell chooses them. Satan is relentless and has no concern for who your father is. He’s a defeated foe and he’s going to take as many unsuspecting, spiritually blind victims as he possibly can.
Over time he’ll harden a person’s heart by blinding them spiritually, resulting in someone who opposes the Gospel, not because they’re rejecting God, but because they fear it will interfere with their devilish lifestyle, which, of course, it will. The only thing to do in a case like that is to pray and let the Lord lead you in asking pointed questions. Questions that will, like WD-40 on a stubborn nut, begin to penetrate the “rust” in their heart and mind, and loosen their spirit to thoughts of God.
It’s a process that may take years, but prayer and faithfulness on our part to not give up on them, will one day, I believe, pay rich, eternal dividends.
Blessings, Ed 😊