“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (John 8:44–47, ESV) (Caps added to pronouns in ESV referring to God the Father, Son, and Spirit)
The post was getting a bit long yesterday, and I decided to make a break where there isn’t one in Scripture. Where we take up today is in the midst of Jesus’ response to the antagonistic Jews. He had just told them that while they may be of Abraham’s seed they were not Abraham’s children, but were children of another father. The Jews interrupted Him stating that Jesus had it all wrong, but Jesus persisted in making His point leading to the words we are looking at today, which was telling them exactly who their father was.
Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” After telling them that neither Abraham nor God was their father because they did not embrace that which Abraham embraced nor accept the One sent by God in order to fulfill His promise to Abraham. They were rejecting the One that Abraham had his hope in, and as such they demonstrated just how distant they were from Abraham and God. Their lives were driven by someone else and that someone is the devil. They were not about doing God’s will but were rather willing pawns in the devil’s schemes. The devil was all about usurping God. This is the reason that the great angel was cast down from heaven because he said “I will, I will, I will, I will, I will.” We read in Isaiah,
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star [Lucifer in King James], son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:12–15, ESV)
Lucifer is one of the names by which the devil is known to us. This name does not appear in the Bible but is rather a reflection of the Latin word meaning “light bearing,” which was a translation of the title used here in Isaiah “Day Star.” The devil was once highly placed and because of his pride he was cast down from heaven with a number of other angels. This pride that marked him is similar to the pride for which Jesus’ spoke against the scribes and Pharisees. Their lives of building themselves up was totally consistent with the one who was all about putting himself in the place of God. Not being able to take action against God, his efforts here turned to taking action against His Son and attempting to thwart God’s plan. Jesus called these Jews for the intentions of their hearts and the one from whom they got their marching orders.
The apostle Paul wrote about this spiritual leading in Ephesians 6 when he spoke to the issue of spiritual warfare. We read, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:10–13, ESV)
They may have been born of Jewish parents and be able to fully trace themselves as decedents of Abraham, but their hearts showed their true tie. Jesus went on here to describe the devil in one of the more well-known verses for Christians who hold to the reality of what Scripture teaches concerning Satan and his cohorts. He wrote, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jesus had just said earlier in this chapter, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, ESV) This was the comment He made when the Jews interrupted, and now He brought His response back around to just how much in bondage they were to the devil and how much they needed real change.
On the one hand they could find true freedom in God through believing in the One who God had sent. On the other hand they could remain in their bondage to sin and continue to listen to the one who is all about deception, destruction, and death. God is the father of truth and the devil is the father of lies. If they had truly been about seeking after God with their whole hearts then God would have freely and willingly shown them His truth. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV) But for these Jews they wanted nothing to do with seeking God in this way, and as such they remained under the influence of the one who was more than happy to lead them in criticism, hatred, and destruction. We have read previously that Jesus continued to reason with them so that they might be saved, but from history we know that many of them remained in their condition of judgment leading to the second death and eternal separation from God. They would not be with God because they did not belong to Him, but will eternally be sentenced to share the lake of fire with the devil for who it was created.
Jesus was very clear in drawing these lines. There was no ambiguity, and yet they did not believe Him. He said, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” He laid it all out before them. He was telling them the truth and they did not believe Him. Not one of them could find any sin in Him no matter how much they may have attempted to catch Him in a trap of words or actions. He was sinless before them, and they couldn’t say anything in response. It all came down to them not believing Him because they did not have a heart for the word of God and they did not hear His words.
I enjoy reading about apologetics and listening to men who are being used by God to make logical arguments for Him and His truth (which is apologetics). Jesus reasoned with people and in the reasoning many believed. Throughout history man has continued to do the same, and because of that the Spirit of God has opened many, many eyes and softened hearts such that people continue to be saved. The apostle Paul wrote about the ministry given to him, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart.” (2 Corinthians 5:11–12, ESV)
I know I’ve recently (and frequently) quoted this next passage of Scripture, but it is one that is at the heart of our continuing the work which Christ has given to us as His ambassadors. The apostle Peter wrote, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:13–15, ESV) Being continually mindful of the presence of rejection, we continue to speak knowing that some will hear, understand, and be saved.