People who smoke, have high cholesterol, are obese, or don’t exercise are more at risk. Should one experience chest pains, shortness or breath, sweating, and anxiety, he or she should seek medical attention and then eat healthier, restrict salt intake, lose weight, quit smoking, and exercise.
In other words, if we pay attention, we should be able to avoid a hardening of the arteries.
The Bible also talks about heart disease, only this time it isn’t a hardening of the arteries but of the heart itself––a hardening of our heart toward God and his statutes. Just as hardened arteries can lead to physical death, a hard heart can lead to spiritual death. Our abilities to perceive and understand are blunted, and we care little for God and His ways. Unfortunately, hardening one’s heart is surprisingly easy.
Step one: Don’t listen to God. Just do your own thing. Follow your own desires.
While the world says that God’s laws and statutes are stifling, unloving, narrow, bigoted, and put a plug on pleasure, they are actually the exact opposite. They keep us healthy and allow us to live free.
Step two: Justify doing your own thing.
When we argue with God, we begin to close our heart to Him. When we want to hold back forgiveness, we have to close off our heart to others. When we purposely step into temptations, we have to steel our heart against the working of the Holy Spirit.
Step three: Avoid the warning signs and continue doing your own thing.
The warning signs are more than obvious: we don’t want to be around anything of God. His Word, His people, Him––and ironically, our joy dies.
But a hard spiritual heart can be remedied, easier even than our physical one, by repenting of our sins and returning to His word. Then as he promised: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)