Know Your Bible
June 1998

Why Does God Not Hear Sinners?

The basis for this question is found in John 9:31, "Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth." Actually, the answer is also found in the same verse: "...but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.". God does not hear sinners because they do not worship Him nor do they do His will.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO"HEAR"? Normally, the word "hear" means to "be endowed with the faculty of hearing" or "not deaf". The word "hear" in John 9:31 means "to yield to, hear and obey" (Thayer, P.22). Thus, in regards to prayer, God is under no obligation to answer the prayer of a sinner. God is not deaf but He does not yield to the sinner's prayer nor does He hear in order that He might obey. It is in this way that "God heareth not sinners".

1. God has already shown His love to sinners by giving His Son to die. "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). God showed His love first, now we ought to love Him. "We love Him, because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19).

2. What makes a sinner? A sinner is one who trangresses the law of God for that is what sin is. "Whosoever committeth sin trangresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."(1 John 3:4). A person "that committeth sin is of the devil" (1 John 3:8) and yet, God sent Christ "to take away our sins" (1 John 3:5). Now it is our turn to commend our love to God. How do we do that? Keep His commandments (John 14:15,21; 15:10) and keep His word (Luke 11:28: John 14:23).

3. What is the sinner's attitude and action toward God's word and God's commandments? A sinner hears but does not do according to Jesus in Matthew 7:26 . Jesus pronounces such a person to be "foolish". Neither does the sinner truly love God. "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings:..." (John 14:24).

4. What happens when we sin? We become separated from God, our sin causes Him to hide His face from us, and sin causes Him to not hear. We learn all this from Isaiah 59:1,2.

5. Why should anyone remain a sinner when God has provided the means of redemption? "In whom (Christ, ERH) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." (Ephesians 1:7). What reason is there for anyone to be in sin? God's grace is for all (Titus 2:11,12). God wants "all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth"(1 Timothy 2:4). God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

6. Also, in answering the question of why should God hear a sinner's prayer, we must not forget the nature of God. Deuteronomy 32:4 says: "He is the rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." The book of Job in chapter 34 and verse 10 records: "Far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity." David records in Psalms 92:15: "To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him." James 1:13 says, "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."(1 John 1:5). In view of His nature, is there any wonder that God will not hear sinners?

7. Indeed, why should God hear the sinner when He has made every provision for his sins to be forgiven and, yet, he still remains in sin. "The face of the Lord is against them that do evil,..." (Psalms 34:16). "Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings." (Micah 3:4).

8. Jeremiah 7:24 "But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward." (11:8) "Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not." (17:23) "But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck still, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction." (25:4)"And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened nor inclined your ear to hear." How can anyone who does not let his ear hear what God says, expect God to hear him?

---E.R. Hall, Jr.

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"The Sinner's Prayer"

Quite often in reading religious material or engaging in religious conversation with others, the reference is made to "the sinner's prayer". What is being referred to is the parable Jesus taught in Luke 18:9-14. By referring to this parable, many people would have you believe this is what a person must do to be saved. However, what was Jesus attempting to teach by means of this parable? Was it, what to do to be saved or was there another lesson He was teaching?

Verse 9 says, "And he spake this parable UNTO CERTAIN WHICH TRUSTED IN THEMSELVES THAT THEY WERE RIGHTEOUS, AND DESPISED OTHERS:". Jesus concluded the parable in verse 14 by making the statement: "...for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." We, therefore, learn that Jesus is using this parable to teach humility. Humbleness will avail far more in God's sight than a high and haughty attitude.

All of us stand before God having sinned. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23). "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:8,10). Realizing we have sinned, we must never approach God in any manner other than that of humility. Also, realizing that sin is the common lot of us all, we must not despise others.

Jesus said that both the Pharisee and publican had went up to the temple to pray. What is to make us believe that the Pharisee was a child of God and the publican was not? Nothing in the parable states this to be the case. In fact, from the parable it would be no injustice to conclude that both these men were children of God. Though publicans had the reputation of being greedy because of their profession of being tax collectors, this is not to conclude that all publicans were ruthless and covetous. One of Jesus' apostles was a publican: Matthew (Matthew 9:9). Neither let us forget Zaccheus who was chief among the publicans (Luke 19:1-10).

There is nothing in the parable to teach us that the Pharisee was saved and the publican was lost. Both men were obviously children of God for both had went to the temple and both were praying. The point of the parable was that the Pharisee's prayer was unacceptable to God because he exalted himself, he trusted in himself that he was righteous, and he despised others. The publican, on the other hand, was justified in his prayer for he had not exalted himself but rather realized he had sinned and always stood in need of God's mercy.

Friends, this is not a prayer that alien sinners must/should pray in order to have their sins forgiven. Saul of Tarsus was praying when Ananias came to him to tell him what to do to be saved. However, the record does not reveal that Ananias told Saul to continue to pray until he had "prayed through" to salvation. Instead, Ananias said, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16).

In addition to people being told today to pray the sinner's prayer, they are being told to pray their sins away. Friends, we do not find, in the Scriptures, where an alien sinner was ever told to pray their sins away but we do read where they were told to "wash away thy sins" by the act of baptism. Baptism is the final step which one must take in order to have their sins washed away and to be "in Christ" (Galatians 3:27).

Many teach sins are already taken away before baptism and a person is in Christ without ever being baptized. However, to find the basis of such teaching we have to turn to the doctrines of men for these are not things we can find taught in the Bible.

There is no "sinner's prayer" that an alien sinner can pray and have their sins forgiven. As sure as "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God", God has one plan of salvation for all."He that BELIEVETH and is BAPTIZED shall be saved; but HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT SHALL BE DAMNED." (Mark 16:16). "...REPENT, and be BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,..." (Acts 2:38).

---E.R. Hall, Jr.

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