The Jews who were rejecting Jesus arrogantly said to Him, “The only Father we have is God himself.” Wrong! The Lord quickly corrected their error, declaring to them, “You belong to your father, the devil.” They refused to believe in Jesus, yet claimed God as their spiritual Father. Many today do the same. I personally prayed the Lord’s prayer, the “Our Father,” hundreds of times in my young life, yet I did not yet know Jesus Christ personally as my Savior and Lord. Because of the absence of Christ in my early years, my spiritual Father was not God, but the devil.
Every living person has a spiritual father, either God or the devil, and that fatherhood goes a long way towards explaining people’s conduct. Jesus clearly told His opponents that they would “carry out the desires” of their “father the devil.” People live like the devil because they are part of his family and tend to manifest his family traits.
In His parable of the good seed and the “tares” (weeds), Jesus again defined spiritual fatherhood. And once again we see Him stating that everyone in the world-field is in one spiritual family or the other. They are either the “children of the kingdom [of God],” or they are the “children of the wicked one.” Either God is your Father or Satan is. There is no middle ground. You are either “good seed” or you are “tares,” weeds.
The apostle Paul understood this clear-cut distinction in everyone’s spiritual fatherhood. In Acts 13 Paul was on the island of Cyprus and was sharing the Gospel with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul became a believer, but not before a sorcerer named Elymas tried to turn him from the faith. The apostle Paul turned to the sorcerer and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery” (vs. 10). And God instantly smote the sorcerer with temporary blindness.
This greatly impressed the proconsul, and he turned in faith to the Lord. My point is this: Paul’s words showed a clear understanding of Jesus’ statement in John 8:44 — that is, those disbelieving in Christ are the devil’s children, and their conduct will reflect the nature of their father the devil. This was clearly true of the sorcerer, who was “full of all kinds of deceit and trickery … [and was] perverting the right ways of the Lord.” (vs. 10). To what did Paul attribute that conduct? — “You are a child of the devil.”
I was spiritually a child of the devil into my early adult years. Then at age 25, I had a powerful personal experience of salvation in Jesus Christ, and everything changed. I had my spiritual fatherhood changed in a moment of time, experiencing the blessedness of Colossians 1:13 — “[God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”
Finally I could truly and conscientiously pray, “Our Father in heaven…” By faith in Jesus Christ, and in sincere repentance for my sins, I was saved, I was born again, and left the family of Satan and became a child of God: “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
Perhaps you haven’t yet experienced the blessedness of having God Almighty as your Father. The Good News is that Jesus has provided for you the way into the family of God. First, you need to have a right worldview, a right perspective. Jesus said, “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son [Jesus] and believes in him shall have eternal life” (John 6:40). God wants to become the Father of each of us, and in order for us to come into His family, His will is that we “look to” Jesus His Son.
Jesus exposed the error of the “all roads lead to God” slogan. They do not! To the contrary, Christ said of Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There is only one road into the family of God the Father — Jesus Christ.
The “how to” is simple—repentance and faith. That was the apostle Paul’s salvation message: “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). With genuine sorrow for our sins, in faith we accept the “Gospel” truth that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection have redeemed us from the damnation due to our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). We receive Jesus in faith as our Savior and Lord and become born-again children of God (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8).
Life under the devil’s fatherhood is dark, oppressive, hopeless, and inevitably sinful—“the lusts of your father you will do” (John 8:44, KJV). Then you hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, perhaps at a church, or in a tract, or maybe by the personal testimony of a friend. A godly sorrow for your sins comes upon you and leads you to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Faith arises in your soul, and you “look to” Jesus and believe in Him (John 6:40). You are born again into the family of God! Now delivered from the devil’s dark kingdom, you are brought into the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13). You have a new Father, God! And He loves you deeply, now and forever. As the Lord Jesus said of those who believe and receive Him, “The Father himself loves you because you have loved me [Jesus] and have believed that I came from God” (John 16:27).
There it is! God the Father loves you. He makes you His son or daughter and gives you eternal life because you have come to Him in repentance and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. If you haven’t yet done that, I encourage you to drop everything else and do that right now. Come to Jesus and become a child of God Almighty. If you would like some help in making that life-changing decision for Jesus Christ, I refer you to evangelist Billy Graham’s brief and very helpful online prayer at Peace with God. You will be eternally grateful to the Lord!
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©2016, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.