Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 13, 1950

Use And Abuse

Floyd Thompson, Santa Ana, California

"Now we know that God heareth not sinners... " (John 9:31) This statement has often been abused by men who are trying to teach the truth. Their statement usually runs about like this: "All who are not members of the church are sinners. John 9:31 says, 'Now we know that God heareth not sinners!' Therefore, no one's prayer is heard unless he is a member of the church." Think for a minute. Paul said, "All have sinned..." (Romans 3:23) It seems therefore, that by the same rule even church members should not pray. Notice that not one word is said about an alien sinner in John 9:31. Have you abused the passage?

What does John 9:31 teach? Let us look at what had happened when these words were spoken. Jesus had just caused a man who was born blind to receive his sight. After the deed was done some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not of God..." Others who had more sense said "How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?" The Jews said, "We know that this man (Jesus) is a sinner." Later the Jews said, "We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is." It was at this point that the man said, "Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." Can't you see that the argument of this man was to prove that Jesus Christ was not the kind of a person that these Jews said he was?

This man stated the truth as revealed in Isaiah 1:15 concerning those who had rebelled against God. "And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood." Again it is expressed in Isaiah 59:2 "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." David said, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Psalms 66:18. Solomon said, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." (Prov. 28:9) Peter said, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." (1 Peter 3:12).

It is evident that John 9:31 is not a discussion of the prayer of an alien sinner. To so use it is to abuse it. Let us use the Scriptures, but let us not abuse them.