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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Afternoon, August 13, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

Last night I preached a sermon adapted from the first point of a sermon by the great evangelist Asahel Nettleton. We learned that "hardening the neck" means that you are obstinate and unteachable. There is no stronger proof that

"the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).

True Christians are very thankful for reproof, correction and counsel. But proud and arrogant sinners are always right in their own eyes. They reject all warnings, advice and correction. They will not think that the person who rebukes them is worth listening to. Their mind is set in hard cement. Nothing that is told to them does them any good. Thus, they reject and push out of their minds all warnings, advice and correction. They decide to do things "my way" rather than following the advice of those who reprove them and correct them.

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

A person with a hard neck and a hardened heart rejects the rebuke and correction of his parents. He simply will not respond appropriately to his parents' rebukes, invitations and warnings on spiritual things. He considers himself far too smart to obey what his father and mother tell him about the things of God.

Second, the obstinate and rebellious person refuses to take to heart the warnings of the Bible. There are many warnings in the Bible, yet a person with a stiff neck pays no attention to them.

Third, the sermons that you hear are full of warnings and reproofs. Yet the mind of the stiff necked person refuses to take these sermons seriously.

Fourth, the Spirit of God has reproved and rebuked you inwardly. Yet you have neglected the conviction He has given you. You have made excuses for yourself and have refused to think deeply about your sin.

Fifth, you have seen others converted, but even this has not moved you. You judged those who were converted instead of following their example. You either thought that they were weak minded or you thought that their conversion was not real. Thus, you excused yourself instead of thinking of their conversion as a strong rebuke to you for remaining lost.

And so, the reproofs and rebukes God has sent to you have done you no good at all. Yet I must remind you,

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

The effect of all these reproofs is that you harden your neck even more. The illustration refers to an ox which has felt the irritation of the yoke, until its neck becomes calloused. Then it can now take the irritation without feeling it,

"Having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Timothy 4:2).

Your conscience becomes more and more seared, calloused to the point that nothing moves you to seek salvation. Nothing can irritate your conscience after it becomes seared and calloused.

"But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Romans 2:5).

Oh, the awful judgment that awaits those who harden their necks!

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

The sinner can rapidly come to a place where it is easy for him to silence the feelings of his conscience. He learns to reject the conviction of sin, and with stoical apathy, proudly boasts to himself that he is superior to the thundering voice of God. He now thinks that he is superior to the "weak minded" people who come under conviction. He thinks of himself as "strong" and those who are convicted of sin as "weak." Thus, he has deceived his own mind. He has become a horrible copy of Satan, who, proud of his wisdom and beauty, refused to submit to God, and of whom God said,

"Thine heart was lifted up…thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground"
     (Ezekiel 28:17).

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

You must not think that our text refers only to death. It does refer to death, but it also refers to what the old-time preachers called "the unpardonable sin," and they were right. Listen to this strong warning from Dr. John R. Rice:

The unpardonable sin is connected always with the rejection of Christ by a sinner…The unpardonable sin is a complete and final rejection of Christ so definite and blasphemous that it insults and drives away the Holy Spirit forever. Then He no longer moves the heart, brings conviction or arouses desire for salvation…If [the Holy Spirit] withdraws Himself, God has no other agency with which to convict and save a sinner…The Holy Spirit is God's last chance to get a sinner to trust Christ and be saved…The unpardonable sin is committed only by sinners of great enlightenment (John R. Rice, D.D., Litt.D., The King of the Jews: A Verse-by-verse Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Sword of the Lord, 1980 reprint, pp. 182-183).

The character of the one who has committed the unpardonable sin is set against Christ. A man may still pay honest debts. A wife may still be true to her husband. A student may [still] make good grades in school. Outward relations with other people may be commendable. But as far as trusting Christ for salvation is concerned, the soul of the sinner who has rejected Christ too long is set forever. It will not change. That is why God cannot forgive and will not forgive. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." What a sad and frightful warning!...If God's Spirit does not call, the sinner cannot be saved, will not be saved (John R. Rice, D.D., Litt.D., Crossing the Deadline: The Unpardonable Sin, Sword of the Lord, 1953, p. 25).

God said,

"My spirit shall not always strive with man" (Genesis 6:3).

The strife regarding salvation is between the sinner and the Spirit of God. The unpardonable sin is committed against God's Spirit, as He works in your heart to convince you of your sin. So, yes, there is an application of that in our text,

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

Listen to the words of this song by Dr. Rice,

You have waited and lingered still refusing the Saviour,
   All His warnings so patient, all His pleading so kind;
Thus you ate fruit forbidden, you believed Satan's promise;
   Thus your heart has been hardened; sin has darkened your mind.
Then how sad facing judgment, you'll recall with no mercy
   That you tarried and lingered till the Spirit was gone;
What reproaches and mourning, if when death finds you hopeless,
   You have tarried and lingered and have waited too long.
("If You Linger Too Long" by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

You have waited and put off conversion long enough - far too long already! You are in danger of being given up by God, of committing the unpardonable sin, of God saying, "That's it. I give up on that young man, that young woman." Do not wait until God gives you up to "a reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28). Do not wait until you have committed the unpardonable sin! Oh, don't do that. For God's sake don't wait any longer! Tomorrow may be too late already! Come to Christ now, tonight.

I know you may think you aren't ready, but come to Him just as you are and He will receive you.

Just as I am and waiting not
   To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about,
   With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
("Just As I Am" by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871).

You have many conflicting thoughts and feelings, "many a conflict, many a doubt." You have "fightings within and fears without" - but come to Jesus anyway. With all your conflicting emotions, all your inner fightings and fears, come to Him anyway. "Just as I am, I come, I come." Come to Jesus just as you are - and you will be saved and washed clean by His Blood instantly.

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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

(Romans 8:7; I Timothy 4:2; Romans 2:5;
Ezekiel 28:17; Genesis 6:3; Romans 1:28)