My young grandson probably did not know this Scripture. But the Holy Spirit certainty gave him words of truth to speak. Jesus said virtually the same thing to the Jews opposing Him. They arrogantly (and wrongly) claimed God as their spiritual father. But Jesus denied that, telling them that if that were true — that is, if God were their Father — they would love Jesus! And since they chose not to be loving followers of Jesus, they were, He said, of their “father the devil.”
Even though those Jews rejecting Christ were very “religious,” He identified them as children of the devil. Why? Because they opposed and rejected Him rather than receiving and loving Him. So we see in these verses, and in many others in the Bible, that how we respond to Jesus Christ determines if we continue to have Satan as our “father,” or if we become children of God the Father through faith in Jesus Christ. I’ll speak more on that below.
The apostles John and Paul shed further light on this distinction. Just as Jesus had said, John clearly identifies all people as either “children of God” or “children of the devil.”
John points out the fact that the children of the devil “do not practice righteousness.” Paul similarly identified Elymas, the Gospel-resisting sorcerer, as a “son of the devil.” How did Paul know that? He looked at the spiritual fruit in Elymas’s life — he was full of deceit and fraud, he was an enemy of all that is right and good, and he continually perverted the straight paths of the Lord. Jesus had told the Jews who rejected Him the same thing. Their father, He said, was the devil and they would “carry out [their] father’s desires.” In other words, said the Lord and His apostles John and Peter, the unrepented wickedness of Satan would be manifested in the lives of his spiritual children. As the old saying goes, “like father, like son.”
In one of His parables, Jesus again distinguished the “sons of [God’s] kingdom” from “the sons of the wicked one.” And He said that our enemy the devil sows his spiritual sons in the world. As you look around you, you will see much blatant, open wickedness. Remember that this is consistent with Satan's strategy of inspiring his spiritual sons and daughters living in this world to carry out his desires, that is, the “lusts of [their] father” the devil (John 8:44). Satan has a kingdom and there is a kingdom of God and His Son Jesus. Satan’s spiritual children populate his kingdom, and God’s spiritual children populate His kingdom.
The apostle Paul said that his commission from Jesus was to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Jesus]” (Acts 26:18). Those who have failed to come to God through Jesus Christ remain as Satan’s children in the dominion (or kingdom) of darkness. Those who respond to the Gospel message are delivered, they are rescued, from that Satanic kingdom of darkness and are brought over into the kingdom of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
How does that happen? How does a person leave his “father the devil” and the devil’s dark, wicked kingdom and become God’s son or daughter in the kingdom of God and Christ? It is through — and only through! — Jesus Christ. Please read the next verse very carefully for exactly what it says.
We humans are all born in sin (Psalm 51:5) and grow up in sin before we experience Jesus Christ’s intervention in our lives. Our sins are reflections of, are manifestations of, the “lusts of [our] father the devil (John 8:44). But Jesus the Son of God came to earth, was born of a virgin mother, lived and preached God’s kingdom, and was killed on a cross for the sins of the world, so that all sinners might come for forgiveness to God the Father through His Son Jesus. And on the third day He rose from the dead to secure the final, eternal victory over sin for all who would come to Him.
And lest there be any doubt, Jesus clearly said that He — only He! — is the “way, the truth, and the life” and that no one comes to God the Father except through Jesus the Son. There are not “many roads to God.” To the contrary, there is only one way, Jesus Christ. Only through Him can we come to know God as our Father.
Jesus came from heaven to “His own,” to this world that He had created (John 1:3,10). But “His own did not receive him.” In His 33+ years on earth, a large number of the Jews to whom He preached rejected Him. But thankfully, there were also many who “did receive Him … who believed in His name.” And to all who did (and still do today) receive Jesus personally as the Lord and Savior, He gave them “the right to become children of God…born of God.”
It’s not God’s desire that lost sinners remain under the dominion of their father Satan. The apostle Peter wrote that God does “not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). God so loves lost sinners that He sent His Son Jesus Christ from heaven to earth to live, to preach and teach and heal, then to die on the cross as a sacrifice for all the sins of the world, and to rise from the dead on the third day afterward. Having sent His Son to accomplish this wonderful redemption, God greatly desires that every man, woman, and child embrace the risen Savior Jesus into their lives, repent and believe in Him, and receive God’s free gift of eternal life.
Remember in our opening Scripture verses how Jesus said of Satan’s children that “the lusts of your father ye will do”? Well, it’s the same with God’s children … in a good way! That is, the “children of God” will similarly reflect the character of their spiritual Father, God in heaven.
Paul surely was rejoicing that sinners who once reflected the wicked lusts of their father Satan can now, as born-again followers of Jesus Christ, walk in this life as “blameless and pure children of God without fault … [and] shining … like stars in the sky.” As God’s beloved children through faith in Jesus Christ, let’s never lose sight of our high and holy calling “to be like [our Father] God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
Perhaps this message today has put in some readers’ hearts a desire to change from being children of the devil to being children of God, accepted into God’s family, and having the certainty of eternal life with Him. If that’s you, I encourage you with all my heart to receive Jesus Christ in faith as your Lord and Savior and to express to God heartfelt, sorrowful repentance for your sins. If you do that, then God’s absolutely trustworthy promise to you is: “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
For those wishing to come in faith to Jesus today, please take a few minutes to allow evangelist Billy Graham to lead you to Jesus Christ and into the family of God Almighty. Here is Dr. Graham’s brief, life-changing counsel for you. God bless you as you serve your heavenly Father!
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©2017, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.