Digging Deeper into the Word Studying the Bible

Be True Hearers of God’s Word

Author: Charles Hegwood

As a parent I can tell you there is a difference between your child hearing you and listening to you. There is a difference between your child acknowledging you spoke and understanding what you said requires response. I have also been that child at some point in my life. In Luke 8:1-21 Jesus is telling the crowd and his disciples the difference between hearing and listening. Luke is telling his reader there is a difference between acknowledging Jesus spoke and understanding that Jesus’ words require a response. The one who hears and does what Jesus commands is a true follower of Jesus and in the family of God. We see the profile of a true disciple lived out in three truths found in Luke 8:1-21.  

Hearing the Word  

First, a disciple who understands God’s word grows and bears spiritual fruit. Jesus told the famous parable of the Sower starting in verse 4 and concluded in verse 8 with the phrase, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” That phrase becomes the main idea for this section. The disciples hear but do not understand so they ask for clarification. Jesus explains the parable to them in detail. When Jesus concludes the parable he again tells them that the one who produces fruit is the one that hears God’s Word and clings to it. The words that Jesus spoke and the lessons that Jesus taught were not to go in one ear and out the other. His words require response. A proper response to the gospel is to hold fast to it and in doing so it will bear spiritual fruit. Hold on to the Word of God.  

 The Light and the Word  

The second truth is that the person who hears and understands God’s Word is given the spiritual blessing of knowing God deeply. Jesus now tells a parable about a lamp. He concluded this parable with the phrase in verse 18, “Be careful then how you hear.” This should strike the reader as odd. After all, Jesus just finished talking about a lamp. Should we not be careful how we see? But again, Jesus is making a thematic point. The lamp represents the Word of God. A lamp is not to be hidden but seen. Therefore God’s Word is to be heard and received with care. Just as we would not hide a light, we do not shy away from hearing the Word of God. Take care in how you receive and perceive the Word of God. Do not just read it, or hear it without concern for understanding. If we do read and perceive God’s word, we are spiritually blessed. Understanding God’s Word requires intentionality. Just like if a lamp stops shining or is hidden, then darkness encroaches. If we hide from God’s Word then it is not without consequence. What we had is taken away. We lose spiritual blessing. We move away from our loving God. So read God’s Word with great care and receive more of the presence of God and spiritual blessings.  

The Word and Family 

The third truth is one who hears and does what the Word of God says will become a part of the family of God. This is perhaps one of the most breathtaking truths. Through hearing the word, bearing fruit, receiving more, we become a part of God’s family. After all, the church really is the family of God. As followers of Jesus we really are brothers and sisters. In verses 19-21 we have what could be called a living parable. Unlike a traditional parable, what we read in these three verses really happened to real people. But like a parable this story has one purpose. Luke wants his reader to know that by hearing and doing what Jesus taught we become family members.  

Jesus is teaching and again a large crowd is listening. His mother and brothers come to see Him. The problem is they cannot reach Him because of the crowd. As Jesus is teaching He gets word that his family is here. What Jesus said is abrasive at first. It may seem a bit harsh. He told the crowd, “my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” That is not the response we would expect. Jesus does not just say “hang on a minute.” He instead makes an appeal to the crowd. Said another way, if you hear and do the words of God then you are my family. This is a living parable and Jesus is stating frankly that acknowledging God’s word is not enough. There must be a response to it. James in his letter said the same thing when he talked about being ‘doers of the Word not just hearers.’  

Just like when I tell my daughter to do something, I expect that she will act on what I am telling her. But the act of doing is a matter of love not duty. When we act on God’s Word we are not obeying out of duty but out of love. Let me be clear, acting on God’s Word is not the ticket to get into the family of God but a mark of someone who is in the family. It is a mark of love to respond. Said another way, the family of God will hear and do what God says. To the disciple who hears and does, you are in the family of God, and this is a big promise that Jesus offers his listeners.  


Luke strings these stories together with the theme of true hearing. From the text the three truths talked about above become reality. When we truly hear then we grow and produce fruit. When we are careful to listen, understand, and intake God’s Word then we receive spiritual blessings. When we understand and respond, then we are members of God’s family. So do not merely hear the word. Do not merely read the Bible. Instead hold on to its truths, take care in understanding it, and respond to it. By doing so you will grow, be spiritually blessed as members of God’s family.  


Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development

Assurance of Salvation

Author: Will Stanfield

Whether you are a new believer or not, there are probably things you do, think, or feel that you wish you didn’t or that you feel bad for. I’ve been following Christ for thirteen years and there are absolutely still things that I do, think, and feel that I wish I hadn’t and feel some guilt and shame over. As Christians, every time we think to ourselves, “I wish I could stop doing that thing” or “Why do I keep doing that?” We are dealing with what is known as indwelling sin. Let’s reflect on how to understand what indwelling sin is. This is less an instruction manual on how to stop sinning and more a help and comfort to those who may be weary in their struggle and experience with the sin that remains.  

How Is It That We Sin? 

To better understand what indwelling sin is, first we should have a good understanding of our sinful condition. The Bible teaches us in the book of Genesis that, when God made mankind and placed Adam and Eve in the Garden, God created mankind in his image and there was no sin. Man, and all of creation, was perfect and God called it all “good.” In Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and in their decision to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they became sinful. The New Testament affirms that through Adam’s sin, sin passed to all subsequent humans. Paul teaches in Romans 5:12 that sin passed to all of mankind through Adam’s sin and because sin brings about death, it too is also passed to all men. Psalm 51 is another depiction of Israel’s King David confessing the guilt of his sin to God, and he exclaims that he was conceived in sin in the womb of his mother. It is not that once we sin we become a sinner; it is that because we are sinners, we commit sin. 

 This sinful condition affects all of creation and our whole human selves. Sin isn’t just limited to how we act or what we do, or even an act of thought. Our condition by default, apart from Christ, is sinful. Our every inclination is to be in rebellion against our Creator, we can’t help it.  

Indwelling Sin 

If you’re a Christian who still sins and you ever asked yourself, “When will I ever stop sinning?” it might be helpful if we reviewed a few things that can bring some assurance of how God sees us and what his hope is for us.  

Paul, in Romans 7, expresses a moment of consternation as he says, “The things I don’t want to do I keep doing and the things I want to do I do not do.” He also goes on to discuss that it is not him who keeps sinning but it is his sinful nature. Even when we become Christians, we are still embodied in this human flesh which is conditioned by sin. When Paul writes in Galatians about not walking by the flesh but walking by the Spirit, what Paul is saying is, “Do not any longer live your life according to your sinful nature, but live your life according to the Holy Spirit.” Yes, this instruction does not mean that our sinful nature goes away. In fact, we could gather that Paul is absolutely affirming that as Christians we still have a sinful nature, we still have flesh. So when he writes in Romans 7 about his sinful nature and his spiritual nature warring against one another, he is expressing to us that as we continue to grow as Christians we should expect to still have a sinful nature.  

Paul also clarifies in Romans 6 that just because God is given us his grace to save us in our sin does not mean that we get to go on sinning freely. Since we are saved by faith unto God, we belong to God and the Spirit enables us to walk in the ways of the Spirit. Yet it is not a surprise to God that, even though he saved us, we still sin. In fact, this should be of great comfort to us! God knew we would still sin in many ways even after salvation and he still saved us! Paul says in Romans 5:8 that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. It would be almost preposterous for us to think that once we become Christians God has some expectation that we immediately stop sinning. God saved us knowing full well we would still struggle with sin and commit acts of sin–that we would still have a sinful nature.  

This is what indwelling sin is. It is the sinful nature that still remains a part of us, even as Christians. It is our proclivity and tendency to still do, think, or feel in sinful ways that echo back to our rebellion against God.  

Our Changed Nature 

After thinking about these things, it might be easy to think the same things Paul was addressing in Romans 6: “Well, if we’re still going to sin, why even try not sinning?” Again, Paul says, “By no means!” When we become Christians, we are no longer confined to being just sinners but we are now saints. Our entire nature changes when we are saved through God’s grace by faith. Before salvation, we are not able to not sin but as Christians, with the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we are now able to not sin. As we grow in the gospel, we also will be experiencing increasing displeasure in our sin. Just because God knows full well that we will still have a sinful nature does not mean that we should just go on sinning. God wants us to experience the holiness and wholeness we were created to experience, and the work of redemption and sanctification is God’s work of making us into the kind of human he created us to be.  

Our Hope for Freedom from Sin 

It gives me a lot of hope and rest accepting the fact that until the day I die and pass from this earth, I will still experience sin but that God knows this and saved me still. As I grow in the gospel and I experience more displeasure toward my sin and I experience a greater conflict between my sinful nature and my spiritual nature, my longing for the New Heavens and the New Earth becomes more intense. For Christians, there will come a day when we are given glorified bodies that have no sinful nature. What day when we see our Creator, or God, and his Son Jesus Christ, face to face, we will be made like him. Our hope here and now is that, even though in Adam’s sin and rebellion, sin and death came to all men, in Jesus Christ’s perfect obedience and sinlessness and in his sacrificial death and resurrection, all those who are in Christ also receive resurrection unto new life.