For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.Romans 1:21
The Bible speaks of a process where our heart either becomes softened or it becomes hardened. Obedience over time softens a person’s heart toward God. A sensitivity to the Holy Spirit develops that allows us to follow His lead without having to be shoved. The hope is that with a gentle whisper from the Lord, we’ll step out and do what He asks. Paul described this process to the Galatians:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.Galatians 5:24-25
Yet, the opposite can happen as well. The more we resist the Lord–the more we do our own thing and follow our own way ignoring the promptings of the Holy Spirit–the more our heart will harden. Obedience will become more and more difficult.
Paul told Timothy to beware of false teachers whose “consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). What an image! Our conscience, which should be soft and tender, sensitive to the touch of the Spirit, can become so hard and numb that it loses all sensitivity, as if seared with a hot iron. Exposure to sin over time is what does this.
However, as your connection with the Lord grows and as your faith matures, you’ll notice a sensitivity develop. You become both more sensitive to the Light and to the darkness. Do you know that feeling of the top layer of skin being removed to reveal the new, raw skin underneath? This is what happens to our conscience. This is what it means to live with a circumcised heart.
Practically, this sensitivity is necessary to get better at sensing the leading of the Spirit. If you want to follow His promptings and hear His voice, this kind of sensitivity is necessary. It is not emotional sensitivity, although it will affect your emotions; it is spiritual sensitivity. And what you’ll notice is that things will start to bother you that never used to bother you.
What I have found in my own life is that this sensitivity has led to me being able to sense things in the spirit realm much easier. I can sense when darkness is around. I can more easily sense when someone is being deceptive. I can sense when a demon is tormenting someone. I can more easily sense when the Holy Spirit wants me to do something or say something. 1 Corinthians 12:10 calls this “discerning the spirits.” But it comes with a down side.
I can’t watch many TV shows or movies that have dark content in them anymore. It used to be that I couldn’t watch horror movies. Now it is so much more. Dark themes of violence, death, murder, abuse, sexual immorality, homosexuality, (even foul language) and the like bother my conscience at a level that is uncomfortable. If I watch something with that kind of content, I feel like I got slimed. I can feel the darkness and demonic influence behind it. Sometimes I am even given revelation into the twisted mind that wrote the scene I just watched, and it is deeply disturbing.
When we get comfortable with sin, we start to get comfortable with darkness. It stops bothering us. We start to feel quite at home in things that are macabre and disturbing. Our hearts and minds harden to it, and we lose our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Participation with darkness, even in entertainment, can grieve the Spirit.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.Ephesians 4:30-32
We all say we want to hear the the Lord better. We all say we want an interactive relationship with the Holy Spirit where He guides our steps and speaks to us clearly. But do we want all that comes with that? It will requires a new level of sensitivity in your spirit that will make you sensitive to both the Light and the darkness in the spirit realm. It will require a new level of cleaning things out of your life, including what you are entertained by. It will require protecting the tender, sensitive heart and not letting it be hardened again by sin or letting it be slimed again by the world.