True Spiritual Paternity
John 8:41-47
You do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.…

Notice -

I. THEIR MISTAKEN SPIRITUAL PATERNITY. "We have one Father, even God." This in a sense is true.

(1) God was their Father as creatures;

(2) he was their Father as a nation;

(3) he was their Father still in his yearning love to save and pity them. But it is substantially hollow and false, as proved by their conduct towards Christ.

1. They failed to recognize his connection with God.

(1) He was the Son of God. "I came forth out of God." He was, in fact, God's Son, as evidenced by his person and miracles.

(2) He was come on a Divine mission. Come to them, and come on a mission of love and salvation.

(3) He was divinely sent. "Neither came I of myself, but he sent me" - he whom you call your Father.

2. They failed to understand his message. Although

(1) he spoke with Divine authority;

(2) with Divine simplicity;

(3) with Divine importunity and tenderness, so that he could naturally ask the pretended children of God, "Why do ye not understand my speech?"

3. They failed to believe him and his message. Although:

(1) His character was perfect. "Which of you," etc.?

(2) His message was truthful. He could challenge them with regard to the truthfulness of his message, as well as the perfection of his character, and both deserved and demanded attention and faith.

(3) Yet they disbelieved and rejected him for the very reason which should induce them to believe and accept him. "Because I tell you the truth, ye," etc.

4. These sad failures flatly contradict their pretended relationship to God. (Vers. 42-47.)

II. THEIR TRUE SPIRITUAL PATERNITY. "Ye are of your father," etc. Look at the picture of the father and the children and their likeness.

1. Look at his murderous propensities.

(1) The devil is a murderer. The murderer of human bodies and souls; the destroyer of human happiness and the Divine image in man. The Jewish nation bore this character. From time to time they manifested murderous propensities; they became the murderers of the Messiah, the Son of God and the Lord of glory.

(2) The devil was a murderer from the beginning. Not the beginning of all things, nor even the very beginning of his own existence, but the beginning of the human race. His fall preceded that of man, and perhaps the existence of man; but no sooner had he perceived Adam, young, innocent, and loyal in his happy paradise, than the lust of murder was excited in his breast, and he fixed upon man as his victim, and effected his foul purpose in the spiritual murder of our first parents. This was the character of the Jews from the beginning, and the character of these very persons since the beginning of Christ's earthly existence. No sooner had the second Adam appeared on the scene than they sought by every means to kill him.

(3) The devil is a most selfish and wilful murderer. This was the case with regard to our first parents. There was no provocation, no gain beyond the gratification of his own selfishness and malice. This was the case with these Jews in the murder of their Messiah; they could find no reason for it but in their own dark and selfish hatred.

2. Look at his lying propensities.

(1) The devil is a liar. He is opposed to truth, to all truth, especially to the great system of truth brought to light by Christ. Thus his falsehood serves well his murderous opposition to the redeeming truth of the gospel. In this the heads of the Jewish nation resembled him; they murderously opposed Jesus, and he came to help murder; they bore false witness against him.

(2) The devil became a liar by falling from the truth He was in the truth once and the truth in him, but abode not in it long enough to be morally safe. He fell wilfully, of his own accord. He is a backslider, and, having fallen from truth, he had no place to fall but into the whirlpool of falsehood, with all its concomitant vices. How like their spiritual father were the Jewish nation! They were born into great religious privileges, they had eminent spiritual fathers, brought up under the watchful care and in the tender lap of a kind Providence, nursed on the breast of Divine and precious promises, and familiarized with the idea of a coming Messiah, their Divine Deliverer; but they abode not in the truth, but wilfully fell into falsehood. It seems as if only the children of special light alone are capable of becoming the veritable children of the prince of darkness.

(3) The devil as a liar is most complete. "There is no truth in him." He is completely lost to true, and truth to him; there is not a vestige of it in his nature. It is so completely gone, that eternal hatred of it now sits on its old throne, and the very thought of it is repugnant and unbearable. In this how like their father these children were! Jesus appealed to every sentiment of virtue and affection in their breast, but in vain. He exhibited in his life and character all that is attractive in human nature, and all that is mighty and benevolent in the Divine; but all this not only did not excite their admiration and gratitude, but excited their most deadly hatred, which proves the sad hollowness and falsity of their character. There was no truth in them.

(4) The devil as a liar is terribly original. "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own," etc. It is net a passing impulse, the result of temptation, but the natural outflow, and a part and parcel of his nature. Here the problem of the existence of evil is somewhat solved; we have found its father, its original propagator. His children partake of his spiritual nature, otherwise they would not be his children. The days of repentance, struggle, resistance, and prayer are past; these are days of spiritual generation, and in this case the result is a progeny of the devil. These Jews were more than under his influence; they were his progeny. Terribly original, self-responsible, voluntary, independent and complacent in their sin, they spoke of their own; their falsehoods were their own, and their murderous act was especially their own, the outflow of their evil nature. "Let his blood be upon us," etc. The father of murder has not finished with any one till that one carries on business on his own footing, manufactures his own goods and disposes of them at his own risk, and does all this naturally. Then his paternity is complete, the relationship real, and his possession safe. This is the lowest point of moral deterioration reached in this world.


1. Man in this world is capable of the highest and the lowest spiritual affinities. He may partake of the Divine or a devilish nature, may become the child of God or the child of the devil. Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

2. Man in this world is capable of the most serious self-deception with regard to his spiritual paternity. These Jews thought that they were the children of God, while they were really the children of the devil. Such a self-deception is very characteristic of him, whose chief delight is to lie and deceive, and is perhaps the climax of his evil genius with regard to men. He cares but little about the name, only let him have the game. Of all self-deceptions this is the most miserable and disappointing!

3. No one can claim God as his Father who despises and rejects his Son. Our conduct towards him and his gospel decides our spiritual fatherhood at once.

4. To Christ our spiritual paternity is quite evident, which he will reveal sooner or later. And in the light of his revelation this is not difficult for each to know for himself.

5. Nothing can explain the conduct of some men towards Christ and his gospel but a true statement of their spiritual paternity. Let this be known, and the sequel is plain.

6. Even the children of the devil condemn him, for they do not like to own him as their father. State the fact, they are insulted. The alliance must be unholy and unnatural. Many of them claim God as their Father - the compliment of vice to virtue. A compulsory admission and a full realization of this relationship will be painful in the extreme.

7. Let his children remember that they are such by their own choice. For spiritual generation, for good or evil, is by and through the will. It is not fate, but deliberate and voluntary selection. "His lusts it is your will to do." All are either the children of God or of the devil by their own choice. Hence the importance of a wise choice. - B.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

WEB: You do the works of your father." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father, God."

We be not Born of Fornication
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