5 Signs of a Hardened Heart

Hebrews 3:15 says: As it is said, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

What does it mean to have a hardened heart? What are the characteristics of a hardened heart?
A person who has a hardened heart is an individual who has an attitude or culture of stubbornness and rebellion.

A clear example of a person who heard the voice of God but continued to harden his heart in rebellion is Pharaoh in Exodus 7:14-11:10.
Pharaoh witnessed the might of the living God but yet he remained defiant against God because he had a hardened heart.

So by using Pharaoh as an example (Exodus 7:14-11:10), below are 5 ways you can tell if someone has a hard heart.

1. A hardened heart does not change or repent
Pharaoh did not repent or change despite witnessing the visible works of God. None of the 10 plagues that Pharaoh witnessed would lead him to repent or change. Instead Pharaoh was filled with pride and driven by the unrealistic idea that he could cheat God and the people of Israel. Therefore in a short moment he would pretend to agree to free the Israelites, but then later completely change his mind again.


2. A hardened heart does not fear the Lord
Pharaoh was not afraid of God. He had no respect or reverence towards God. This caused Pharaoh to be defiant against God. He competed with God through his magicians and sorcerers because Pharaoh trusted in his own Egyptian gods than in the true living God.
So a hardened heart does not fear the consequences of defying or challenging the true living God.


3. A hardened heart is not merciful
Pharaoh was not merciful to the Israelites. He became more sadistic and cruel because of his hardened heart. He added more work and burdens to the Israelites because he did not care for the Israelite slaves.
Pharaoh did not also care for his own Egyptian people. His hardened heart and defiance towards God during the 10 plagues caused direct suffering on his own Egyptian people as they experienced the effects of the 10 plagues.
So a hardened heart can be cruel, bitter and merciless.


4. A hardened heart is narcissistic
Narcissists are filled with pride; they always feel the need to win; they cannot accept defeat; they need to have the last word. Hence even after all the 10th plague or the death of the firstborns, Pharaoh wouldn’t accept defeat and pursued after the Israelites with his army and chariots as they were leaving Egypt.
Therefore a hardened heart thinks only of its own ego and interests. A person with a hard heart does not care about the consequences of his own actions as long as his own interests and desires are fulfilled.


5. A hardened heart is proud and self-deceived
Pharaoh was unteachable. He never really understood the almighty and powerful nature of God. He never really understood that the true living God was greater than all the Egyptian gods he worshiped.
Pharaoh was so self-deceived in his heart that he could not learn from the 10 plagues that God demonstrated in Egypt. Pharaoh was filled with unbelief.
Pharaoh’s pride and self-deception blinded him from the truth. His hardened heart blinded him from understanding the true living God.


The Religious Pharisees also had a Hardened Heart
In the Bible there was a group of religious leaders who knew the written Scriptures or Torah, but yet they did not know the true nature of the living God who inspired those same Scriptures.

The Scriptures spoke of the coming Messiah, but yet when the Messiah appeared in the flesh, the Pharisees rejected Him and instead plotted to kill Him.

Just like Pharaoh, the Pharisees witnessed the visible miracles and work of God performed through the Messiah Jesus Christ.
The Pharisees demonstrated that they had hardened their hearts. Just like Pharaoh they witnessed the works of God and heard the voice of God but yet they constantly tested and challenged Jesus Christ to the extent of plotting to kill Christ. However the Pharisees hardened their hearts and they would not believe in Jesus Christ and in the purpose for which He came to earth.

So despite the evidence, the Pharisees refused to accept the divinity of Christ but instead they believed Christ to be a threat to their religious authority and status.
The Pharisees were defiant against God even though He revealed Himself in the flesh and demonstrated who He was through signs, miracles and the fulfilment of Scripture.



A hardened heart blinds us from knowing God’s nature and character. A hardened heart ultimately leads people to their own demise. A hardened heart cannot submit to God because it is a heart filled with pride, unbelief and an unrepentant attitude.
A hardened heart cannot defeat God. A hardened heart hurts us more than it hurts God.
We must therefore ensure that whenever God speaks, we submit in humble obedience to His word and in reverence to Him.

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