Have you ever heard it said about someone, “He or she always has to learn the hard way?”. Truth be told, I heard that said about me when I was a young boy. That “know it all” attitude still dwells in my flesh. Thus, my prayer (you can pray this as well), is that God would give me a soft and teachable heart. One of the most devastating and heartbreaking things about pastoral ministry is seeing people reject or ignore God’s truth or God’s ways in favor of their own feelings or desires. In the book of Job, we read, “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?” Read that verse again, beloved. Read it slowly and prayerfully. When we harden our hearts against God’s word, we are headed for destruction.

One of the most consistent messages in the Book of a Proverbs is “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.” My oh my, how true is that? Beloved, our flesh will never want to change, nor will it want to listen to God’s wisdom, because the very nature of our flesh is self-centered and rebellious against God’s will and wisdom. Thus, Paul would say that those who sow to the flesh reap corruption. Why? Because they harden their heart against God’s truth. In the Psalms, God sternly rebukes the person who “hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.” Once again in Proverbs we read that reproofs of instruction are the way of life. If there was ever any denial of man’s depravity, it is proven without a shadow of a doubt by the repeated admonition to listen to God’s wise instruction instead of leaning on our own understanding.

“He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.” Keeping instruction is part of the ongoing process of sanctification and being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”. Did you notice that in addition to providing sound doctrine or theology ( because sound theology is necessary for sound living), Scripture is given for reproof, correction and instruction! In other words, loved ones, it is important to listen to God!

And why do you call me, “Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock:and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it:for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” The cause of the ruin? Hardening, despising, or flat out refusing to obey God’s truth. Plain and simple beloved.

James succinctly writes, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

God is The One Who created us and knows what is best for us. He has graciously provided for us His precious Word. In His Word there is instruction about good and bad kinds of relationships. Godly and ungodly expressions of sex. Right and wrong usage of money. Laziness and diligence. Praise and humility. Real love or lust and selfishness. Righteous anger and fleshly anger. The list is endless.

My point? Today, you and I are going to be making choices. The consequence of those choices will bear the fruit of the basis of making them. Will I be wise and obey God, despite what my flesh, my feelings or my friends say? Or will I unreservedly and wholeheartedly submit to God? If you harden your heart and your will is chosen, you will crash…if you choose to obey God, your life will be built upon solid ground. Sow obedience to God, and reap the fruit of His Spirit and blessings.