"And Pharaoh hardened his heart … and Pharaoh hardened his heart … and Pharaoh hardened his heart … and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart."1
Most readers will be familiar with Moses confronting Pharaoh when he was attempting to lead the ancient Israeli slaves out of bondage in Egypt. Pharaoh kept opposing, opposing, and opposing the will of God. In the process he kept hardening his heart until after repeated opportunities he still refused to do what was right, God gave up on him.
So who really hardened Pharaoh's heart, God or Pharaoh himself?
And what's this got to do with cognitive dissonance? Everything. Cognitive dissonance is a fancy term for mental disharmony or a lack of peace of mind. For example, if we consistently fail to do what we know is right, and/or keep doing what we know is wrong, we will lose peace of mind and experience cognitive dissonance. Because we can't stand living this way, instead of correcting our behavior, we repress and deny our feelings, rationalize our behavior, justify our actions, start believing our own lies—and end up with a hardened heart and dead conscience—a dangerous course to follow. Ultimately we self-destruct.
All of God's laws are universal. Take his moral law for example. We can no more break it than we can break the law of gravity. Try to break either one of these and we end up breaking ourselves against them. How foolish to think we can break God's laws and not suffer the natural consequences. All we do is harden our heart and deaden our conscience. And unless we repent of our sinful ways and turn back to God, we end up in a lost eternity forever. God's ways are for our protection and eternal salvation. We neglect them at our own peril.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me always to listen to and heed the warnings you have built into my mind when I am tempted to stray from the truth and what is right … so that I will never deaden my conscience and end up with a hardened heart. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
1. See Exodus 8:15; 8:32; 9:34; and 10:20.