Those who oppose their own souls

A funny thing about human beings. We will only hear what our heart is open to hearing. A closed heart can make you believe and do very foolish and harmful things. This is what the religious spirit and the political spirit do to us. They make us think emotionally rather than rationally. It’s what drives the cancel culture today. We simply will not tolerate what we don’t want to hear.

The very thing that would heal our wounded soul could be the very thing we’re vehemently fighting against. It’s the proverbial cut your nose off to spite your face. One example: when I was appointed as senior pastor of our church many years ago (after the former pastor had resigned), I wanted one of the former staff pastors to continue on with me in a position that would’ve been perfect for him. But because he was angry about the transition, he left and told everyone I fired him (which made several other people angry at me). It wasn’t until years later that he admitted that what he had thought he heard was wrong. What he heard was “rejection” because that’s what his wounded soul was telling him.

A closed heart might even make us think we’re doing God a service when we’re actually fighting against Him. This was the case with the religious leaders who came against Jesus. I like how the Passion Translation brings this out in Hebrews 12:

So consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls, so that you won’t become worn down and cave in under life’s pressures. (Heb.12:3 TPT*)

This is the reptilian ‘GroupThink’ of the angry mob, and the nature of endless arguments and heated debates. Our fear-based anger over perceived injustices or need to be always right and protect our fragile pride is the very thing that stops our hearts from hearing…and ironically, from finding freedom or justice. Fear of the mob also makes us rationalize lies.

It’s also one reason why I believe Jesus could sincerely ask His Father to forgive His persecutors. They had stopped their ears and had made themselves blind because what they were looking for didn’t come in a way they expected.

Because of these things, the people who opposed Jesus, who thought by opposing Him they were serving God, became their own worst enemy. For they were railing against the very freedom they were hoping and praying for.

This is the sad commentary for those who will not hear:

14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ (Matt.13:14 NKJV*)

A verse I often quote on my blog is Proverbs 4:23:

23 Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life. (Prov.4:23 NLT)

Notice that it doesn’t say that we should guard our religious dogma or political ideology. It says, guard your heart—the gatekeeper to your soul. Your heart is the rudder by which you navigate the course of your life. And the condition of your heart determines the quality of that life.

Keep your heart open, free from offense, so that you see and hear things as they are, not as you might perceive them to be.  The path to continual spiritual growth is to always be teachable, pliable, ready to understand instead of demanding to be right.

And we can do this without compromising the truth, because the Truth is a Person. The truth that frees us is revelatory and relational. From our human standpoint, truth is progressive in our understanding because it’s much bigger than the echo or of our own thoughts and opinions. God never changes…but we must!

We also see Hebrews 12:3 above that we should not become weary because people’s hearts are not open to us. They may even hate us. Our main concern is our own heart. Are we open to the truth?

Beloved, do not be like those who oppose their own souls. Don’t be led by circumstances, be led by the Spirit. You will never regret it!

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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9 Responses to Those who oppose their own souls

  1. Citizen Tom says:

    Well said!

    I have to remind myself that we all have biases. It is not enough to point to those with whom I disagree and scream “bigot”!

    One of the problems the Pharisees had, even Saul who became Paul, is that they thought that through their own conduct they could achieve salvation. Yet none of us can. We are all fallen, so corrupted throughout that only God’s grace allows us to do the right thing the right way in obedience to the One who created us.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I am constantly reminding myself of my own bias, too. It helps keep a healthy perspective. We definitely all go through this world broken and fallen. This is why salvation is so important. As Paul said, what do we have that wasn’t given to us! This allows for grace to work in our lives and to treat others as we would want to be treated. The word “saved” (sozo) doesn’t just mean saved from sin, but also that our soul can be healed and we can be made whole as a human being. Holy Spirit gives us a mirror by which we learn to cooperate with this process (2 Cor.3:18). And if we do that, the world is a better place because of it.

  2. Good post, Mel. That is a perfect verse too, a good description, “those who oppose their own souls.” We will absolutely hear only what we want to hear, and only being able to hear something through our own wounding, like rejection, is a good example. The Bible often speaks of having the eyes to see and the ears to hear. That is absolutely about the condition of our heart, our ability to receive it.

    I like what Tom said in his comment, too. “One of the problems the Pharisees had…. is that they thought that through their own conduct they could achieve salvation.” Yep, you don’t even need to have “religion,” to have that religious spirit that falsely believes you have to earn grace by performing rituals and virtue signaling.

    I had a pleasant conversation with a couple of woke ones feeling very responsible and burdened by global warming. So what we do in that situation is just repent, go to the Lord, say “I’m sorry. I broke the whole planet.” And He says “IB, you are forgiven.” They were astounded, but in a good way, because what they really need is grace. A good chunk of young people are carrying around the world’s sins on their shoulders, (real or imagined sins,) with no idea that it’s not their burden to carry and that forgiveness is available.

    • Mel Wild says:

      That’s a really good point, IB. What we all need is grace. And that gets back to my last post. It start with receiving forgiveness. That revelation of being forgiven releases grace like a river to our soul! And what’s wonderful about that is that you can love everybody again! I don’t want to be woke, I want to be awakened that kind of reckless love! 🙂

  3. Tricia says:

    Proverbs 4:23 is one of my favorites as well, really sums up a lo of what we are supposed to do. Good post!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks. Prov.4:23 probably my Old Testament life verse, along with my New Testament one, which is John 15:9-12. Pretty much is the answer to a life well lived!

  4. jim- says:

    ”Keep your heart open, free from offense, so that you see and hear things as they are, not as you might perceive them to be. The path to continual spiritual growth is to always be teachable, pliable, ready to understand instead of demanding to be right.”—Well said sir. Been kind of a jerk to my wife lately thinking she was hurtful, but really I was a jerk and she was defensive.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, Jim. I think I spent about 30 years of my marriage thinking just that! Sad to admit, it was only a few years ago that it dawned on me what a selfish jerk I’d been to my wife. Like you said, I was the one bringing the behavior out in her that I was fighting against. It’s amazing how blind we can be about these things in our relationships with the people closest to us.

      • jim- says:

        Thanks Mel. It has a strange way of creeping in on the nicest people. Just 13 years for us, but just embarrassing to me i could chip at her without even realizing it. Shes a fantastic person.

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