Truth Be Told

I’d like to tackle a particular scripture that says  God will not hear the prayer of sinners. Those that take a literalist view of scripture will say that it means what it says without reference to context and the character of God.   One of the greatest detriments to the gospel is teachers that don’t fully explain scriptures but simply repeat them the way they heard them.   There has to come a time when Bible teachers reconcile real Christian life with scriptural fallacies.

Scripture has to be taught in the complexity of context. 

This scripture came up in a conversation recently. 

St, John 9:31 “ and we know that God heareth not sinners, but if any man be a worshipper of God and do his will him he heareth”.

Just that first part, was stuck in the person’s head.  Is it true that God shut his ears to people that are living sinful lives? How do they then get saved?  How does he bless them and show them his lovingkindness without listening to their problems?   I know people that are not born again, but prayed to God and he answered their prayers.  I’m sure you do too.

rejectedRecently a friend of mine who had suffered spiritual abuse at the hands of an authoritarian pastor and left their church was struggling with a situation.  They didn’t profess any Christian testimony but still believed in God and respected prayer. They needed God in a particular situation but  wondered— Will God hear me?   Their former church taught that God would no longer hear unless they were praying to get saved. 

My friend seemed shocked when I mentioned that this scripture was not spoken by Christ at all, but by a man that was healed in the bible. I invited them to at least google this scripture to get an understanding of what this means before they labeled themselves rejected.

To help them out even further, I reached out to  Dr. Bill Mounce and his group of biblical scholars at and asked about the context of this scripture. Here is part of their response:

“First, this was written from an Old Testament perspective (that) if you lived your life according to the OT Law, God would bless you. If you didn’t, you would suffer consequences. That’s why when Jesus healed him, the man assumed that Jesus was living according to the Law because he did something that required God’s power and blessing. He wasn’t making a comprehensive theological statement.(my emphasis) He was stating something that is often true.” 

Amen to that.  This was my understanding but I couldn’t seem to put it into words for them.  I just knew that God didn’t operate like that. I know of many people who did not profess any relationship with God, petition God, and He blessed their situation.   So here is my list of things I think are important to remember about sin, prayer, and relationship with God:

Truth be told…

Many fundamentalist groups preach so hard against sin create an atmosphere that is unloving, unwelcoming and un-everything toward people that have sinned, backslidden, or are living a sinful lifestyle.  They can’t help it. Self righteousness is in the (11).jpg

If God is not hearing sinners’ prayers, “then they get whatever is coming to them”.  Scriptures such as the one below tend to be ignored in such religious systems.

 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Matthew 7:1-2

Truth be told…

Every follower of Christ can fall into sin or have been guilty of morally wrongful actions or attitudes.  They don’t have to be, because the whole point of Christ’s sacrifice was to procure forgiveness for all mankind and the power to overcome.  But we can’t deny things that are in our hearts and call them something else.  Sinful actions are still a choice.   It’s just that perfectionist religious systems that are so focused on God’s judgment try to separate sin, iniquity,  mistakes, and feelings into separate categories so as not to call them sin and keep their testimonies in line with their perfect-life teaching.   

Truth be told...

The reality of their experiences often doesn’t match their preaching. Some Bible teachers preach the success of the Christian life and not the failures or failings and so when people get into troublesome situations, they are in agony about their standing with God and already feel God has rejected them.  It is often difficult for them to believe God’s forgiveness and get themselves back in connection with God.

Certainly, preaching all failure is not good either but we’re not talking about that today.  Maybe next post.

I’ve known many in my group who have strong professions of salvation but have done what the Bible calls sin— preachers included. They did not openly go back to their former lifestyle but it was sin (lie, lust, curse, steal etc.)

When nothing but the wrath of God is preached, you end up presenting an untrue picture of God.

 “ And He (Christ) is the propitiation (turning away of deserved wrath)  for our sins (believers,saints) and not ours only but the sins of the whole world”St. John 2:1 

Two categories of people in this scripture: the world and those that are in a relationship with God. 

“All unrighteousness (wrongdoing, wicked action) is sin, but there is sin that is not unto death” I John 5:17

Truth be told…

When the above scriptures are ignored, the emphasis becomes scriptures that talk of God refusing to hear people and God’s judgments. At one church in our group, the emphasis on preaching judgment had gotten so strong that a minister was reprimanded for preaching too much about the love of God.   

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Truth be told…

Constantly preaching God’s judgments tends toward ignoring the lessons of the Publican and the Pharisee, or the rich young ruler who kept the law from his youth but was still lacking.   I know this to be true because as much as I read these scriptures, I was bombarded from the pulpit about the judgments of God and heard very little about his love, mercy, care, and forgiveness.

Truth be told…

It creates an environment where people are struggling to be honest and open because they have to present themselves as perfect. One preacher in our group bragged that he was all measured up. So, hey, no growth necessary. 

As far as prayer is concerned,

Truth be told…

Even believers who live strict lives cannot truthfully say that all of their prayers are answered because of their perfect works. God answers prayers based on his will and his wisdom for our lives.  Some have professed to live perfect Christian lives, dedicated to their religious practices and in their deepest distresses, fail to see God come through for them.  Due to lopsided teaching, they fail to realize that works are not the focus of the gospel. That was done away in the Old covenant. The New Covenant is based on the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

Truth be told…

We have no idea how long God will talk to people or when and if they are rejected,  or  how long suffering God will be in offering kindness to them, nor is that our business.  We are responsible for ourselves and our personal walk with God.

Truth be told…

If a Christian sins, that is not the time for gossip, nor is it an opportunity for us to shake our finger in judgment, but it should be an opportunity to help our brother get on the right track. 

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1

Such a simplistic view of God often causes people unnecessary anguish because they DID everything, they felt possible for God to hear them and he did NOT honor their request,  they were left in a tailspin.    If you’re taught that your works will get you everything you need from God and then that doesn’t happen, it’s devastating. THE RESULT  is a damaging spiral of shame, SELF-blame, self-accusation, and terror and questioning if they perfectly performed their religion.

Truth be told, God is not looking for perfect performance but for us to remain honest with him and love him with all of  our hearts.

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By the way, I’m down 6 more lbs folks!

Author: Renee

I am an author and a retired minister. My passion is helping others find their sense of self and identity after so many years of losing my own. So often we go to church and are still not aware of our disconnection with our true selves. The person inside that God deeply values. My husband and I have been married for over 30 years and have 3 children. I love gourmet cooking, swimming, all kinds of music, and political and religious discussion- the two things my mom said never to talk about at the dinner table.