This week in the Book of Mormon we’ll look at chapters 20 to 24 of the Book of Alma. In this parsha (portion) of the Book of Alma, we see a theme with the Lamanites, Amalekites and the Amulonites that they all have a hardened heart. In fact, we see this theme presented in other parts of the Book of Mormon. So, here is another warning from God that we might be susceptible of having a hardened heart. This week we’ll consider the process that influences a hardened heart, what are the results of having a hard heart, and how we can change our hearts.
Hard Heart Introduction
When we look at our internal processes that result in action, we see that our thoughts influence our motives, desires, and attitudes. These motives, desires, and attitudes describe the condition of our hearts, which then determines what we say and do.
So what we believe is at the root of the condition of our hearts. Perhaps that is why King Benjamin said that we should watch what we think – Mosiah 4:30. If we believe that we can learn from other people, we have an attitude of openness and will encourage others by our words and actions to share their ideas. When we believe that we know better for what ever reason, we breed an attitude of resistance and stubbornness to consider other possibilities and fail to change.
Hard Hearted Beliefs
When we look at the scriptures, people generally have a hard heart because they believe they are wise, they are righteous, they are individuals and can do what they want, or that some part of God’s Word is not relevant.
One of the leading beliefs why people have a hard heart is the learned believe they are wise and can ignore God.
"O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish." 2 Nephi 9:28
Another belief that causes a hard heart is the one we see here in Alma 21, the people thought they were righteous, had been saved, didn’t need a Savior and had no need to repent – v5 and 6.
Another belief that causes a hard heart is believing that they are individuals and can do what they want. We see this with Israel when the people did “right in their own eyes” – Judges 17:6. This category of thinking is called individualism, When all that really matters is people satisfying their own desires and wants.
And finally, a hard heart can result when we believe a portion of God’s Word is not relevant, which we see by being blinded by the false teachings of the “Church of the Devil” – 1 Nephi 13:27. The most glaring example of this is Believers thinking that God’s Law-word in the Torah is no long relevant.
All of the above examples are examples pride.
Results of a Hard Heart
The result of having a hard heart is not having God’s Spirit – 2 Nephi 33:2, Alma 13:4, and not receiving more light and knowledge – Alma 12:10, Hel. 13:8. When it comes to rejecting the Law, we also see a loss of temporal blessings of physical protection, material abundance, and blessings to posterity – Deu. 28.
Remedies for a Hard Heart
The remedies for having a hard heart are laid out in Alma 32. The first remedy that Alma lists is being compelled to be humble – v13. Being compelled usually happens when we are forced into changing our beliefs when we suffer setbacks, which we see with ancient Israel when they failed to live the Law. Israel repents a number of times due to setbacks and is restored. We will see this happen in an Endtime context through God’s judgement when all Humanity is forced into a choice to follow God and His law or to follow evil.
A second remedy is when Believers repent without being compelled to be humble – v16. Today, we see this in the messianic movement worldwide as Believers are embracing the Torah.
A third remedy is when Believers experiment on the Word by testing its truthfulness and receive a witness – v27,28. As a missionary of my former faith system, I used this scripture to convince people to consider the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. We can use this same method to test the truthfulness of living the Law. I would suggest that you live as much of the God’s law-word in the Torah for one year and see if you don’t see more of God in your life.
We'll look at Alma 32 in more depth when we get there.