7What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8just as it is written:
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes to see not and ears to hear not,
7What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) …
The passages in Scripture that refer to God hardening someone’s heart or blinding them to the truth can be confusing. This can be a troubling passage and topic for many people because it often leads to more questions than answers. In this sermon on Romans 11:7–11 titled “Judicial Blindness,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides helpful answers and a good starting point for people wrestling through this issue. Dr. Lloyd-Jones refers to this blinding as a “judicial blindness” where God ceases striving. There are many instances recorded in Scripture where God removed His control and allowed negative things to happen so that people would learn. Yet there is a step beyond this when sometimes God is even said to harden someone’s heart. Those who are hardened and blinded are unable to do or believe anything outside of their current state. Is this a punishment or is it at random? Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides his opinion for how this progresses — in short, that disobedience against God leads naturally to the hardening of the person’s heart. Ultimately, he says, the doctrine of election makes sense of this topic that can be so difficult to navigate. Listen as he guides the listener through this challenging passage.
- Wrong seeking is extremely dangerous. We must seek God in the right way through Jesus Christ alone.
- Judicial blindness refers to God withdrawing his grace and hardening the hearts of those who continually reject him. This is a form of punishment.
- God does not create sin or directly harden hearts. He simply withdraws his grace which naturally allows our sinful hearts to become hardened. He does this to demonstrate the evil of sin.
- Examples of judicial blindness include Pharaoh, Israel at the time of Jesus, and potentially the church today. Affluence and comfort have led much of the church astray.
- We should stop presenting the truth to those who continually blaspheme and reject it. We should continue praying for them but stop actively engaging them.
- Revivals are completely in God's hands. We cannot manufacture revival through our own efforts and techniques. Revival comes when God softens hearts, not when we do certain things.
- We should continue praying for revival and have comfort knowing that God is in control. Our duty is to continue preaching the gospel.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.