Anyone who holds fast to a sin will never accept truth when he hears it. Why? Bcause every sin carries with it a lie that will be accepted as truth.

When the Holy Spirit convicts a believer of a particular sin or habit, He comes again and again with loving warnings. God's Spirit is tender, patient, loving — and He will wait for a believer to respond before He brings discipline. He will continually hammer that person's compromise with His loving conviction.

When all the wooings and warnings of the Spirit are ignored and sin takes root, the penalty is chastisement and, finally, judgment. God will allow blinding of the eyes and hardness of the heart until it becomes impossible for the habitual sinner to see his own depravity. Eventually, the hardness of his heart becomes impenetrable.

Saul's heart was under the dominion of the idols of pride and jealousy. Pride continually rose up in this man, making him jealous of David and anyone else who walked in holiness, and his heart was overcome with idolatry.

Here is the sad testimony of this idolatrous king: "And Saul answered, I am sore distressed . . . God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams" (1 Samuel 28:15). Saul could weep, seek out prophets, and pray for dreams, but the Lord answered, "No, Saul. I'm not talking to you anymore, because your heart is captivated by an idol."

The book of Jeremiah tells us that Ephraim fell under the Lord's severe chastisements because of sin. But Ephraim repented, turning away from his idols and smashing them. Here is that man's testimony: "Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed" (Jeremiah 31:19).

Do you understand what Ephraim is saying here? In essence, it is: "When I had idols [sin] in my heart, I went to the Lord for instructions. But I couldn't get a word from heaven. I didn't hear anything from God until I repented and smashed my idols to bits. Then I got clear instructions!"