“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”-Proverbs 4:23
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”-Romans 2:4
“When we have fallen away from him, God destroys us unless by reproof he recalls us. Thus he rightly says that if we are without discipline we are illegitimate children, not sons (Hebrews 12:8). We are, then, most perverse if when he declares his benevolence to us and the care that he takes for our salvation, we cannot bear him. Scripture teaches that this is the difference between unbelievers and believers: the former, like slaves of inveterate and double-dyed wickedness, with chastisement become only worse and more obstinate. But the latter, like freeborn sons, attain repentance. Now you must choose in which group you would prefer to be numbered.”
God calls us back via reproof when we stray. To not be reproved, at some point after falling away, could be a sign of your destruction. God’s correction prevents destruction.
Did you ever wonder what distinguishes believers from unbelievers? Many things could be mentioned from Scripture, but Calvin tells us today that the response to chastisement delineates believer from unbeliever. The hearts of unbelievers become harder when God justly impresses varieties of chastisement upon them. Believing hearts remain malleable and shapeable, however. God’s discipline sinks into the heart of the believer and bounces off the heart of the unbeliever. The same chastisement that hardens also softens. “The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins” (Charles Spurgeon).
Is your heart already hard or becoming hard? Is it becoming insensitive to your sin, calcified, and therefore resistant to God’s discipline? When God chastises you through earthly means such as your spouse, boss, elder, or friend, how do you respond? Does it lead you to repentance or toward shifting blame as you rationalize and justify your sin?
Is your heart soft? This state of the heart is a gift and must be cultivated and maintained as you receive heart-tending ability from Christ. Forgetting that you deserve to have a hard heart is one of the first steps toward hardheartedness. Remembering that a soft heart is undeserved helps you to exercise patience, love, mercy, grace, kindness, empathy, and forgiveness toward those who are hardhearted. (Justin)