Hosea 5:4 Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. For the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they do not know the LORD.

The saying goes, as long as there is life, there is hope – and its true in most respects. As long as there is life, the is the possibility for repentance. But our text talks about something that is important, but seldom spoken -–for in our text it looks as though repentance is no longer possible. While Israel and Ephraim are still alive, there is no longer any sign of hope.

How can this be? It seems quite unfair. It almost seems like God doesn’t want them to be saved. This is one of the reasons many people do not like to read from Hosea. The answer has 2 parts – in the first place, they no longer know God, and another god is in place. In the second place, even if they could come to know the Lord, their God – their deeds prevent them from coming to him. Here is how it works.

The usual way for people to learn about God, is that someone tells them. In rare instances God tells people directly, but most of the time God works through other people – believers tell unbelievers about God. Its been that way since the beginning, not only was knowledge of God passed down through families – but people reached out to those whom they met, to invited them to come to know the Lord God. But what happens if the believers no longer believe – what happens if the people of God forget about God and turn to other gods – who will tell them about God, or call them to repentance?

Who? Well – there is more than one way to know about God –

  1. know about God from the existence of the world
  2. know about God from the testimony of our conscience
  3. know about God from the scripture

Everyone thus can know something about God, particularly about what he expects, and that he is going to judge all according to their deeds – God writes this law on the hearts of everyone, so that no one is without excuse. Even if the people of God turn from God so that the scriptures are forgotten, the only thing that is lost is hope – the promise of forgiveness of sins and peace with God – the law remains, and continues to call people to repentance.

Our text point out that it is possible not only to loose the gospel but to blind yourself to the testimony of the world, and to silence the conscience – this happens when one willfully continues in sin, as a result we harden our hearts – that is we put up defenses and excuses in an attempt to silence the law’s call to repentance. Usually the rule is that we try to get the wax out of our ears, but as we harden our hearts, it is really like packing wax in our ears, we are trying to become deaf to the call of the law for all of us to repent. And as our conscience becomes deaf, we forget about God, we are still technically alive – but having hardened our hearts, plugged our hears and covered our eyes – the call to repent no longer bothers us, and in time, we no longer hear it. At the very end of this process, and always at our own request – God acts one final time and hardens the hearts we have already hardened for ourselves. God does this for 2 purposes, first in the hopes that we might see that we are lost and forsaken and might yet repent, before we are eternally damned – second, God hopes that others might see how pointless a life without God is, and that our bad example might call others to repent before they have hardened their hearts as we have.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals."

The second part is that if you continue in sin, you cannot really repent – that is – your sin – the deeds you do –

1. prevent you from turning to God

  1. prevent you from believing in God
  2. prevent you from trusting in God
  3. prevent you from receiving forgiveness.

2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Colossians 1:13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,