Whether we like it or not, we are all a product of our parents influence. We may claim it isn’t so . . . but it is. It’s much easier to see in our children than it is to see in ourselves. From the very earliest moments of our lives people were looking for our resemblance to our parents. “Who do you think he looks like?” They would say.
Some of us have spent our lives trying not to be like our parents but inevitably there are things we do or say that we know we are doing or saying because our parents did it or said it to us. Most of us have vowed that we would never answer our child’s question: “Why?” with “Because I said so.” But we’ve all done it.
Our parents influence us genetically, so that we have a certain hair color (to start with), certain color eyes, build, height and appearance. But they also affect us by their example. Many children root for certain sports team for no other reason than that’s the team they grew up with. Children will vote for a certain political party often because that is the way their parents voted. We will go to certain churches, or choose certain churches based on the lessons our parents taught us. It is a frightening thing to see your negative traits practiced by your children. We learn more from our parents than we are inclined to admit.
In our text this morning Jesus has an extended conversation with the Jewish leaders about heredity. However, his discussion is not about genetics . . . it’s about the spirit. He says we belong to one of two parents: God or the Devil.
The Children of the Devil
- These were all people who didn’t recognize their enslavement. This is the most startling fact: these people believed they were right with God. They were offended when Jesus implied they needed freedom, they were slaves, and needed to serve the true Father. This reminds us that many (you?) are confused about their relationship with God.
- They were really slaves of sin. Jesus pictures for us the devastating nature of sin. It is a slavery and a bondage.
The cycle of sin is rather predictable . . . Satan entices us to an enjoyable (but sinful) experience. . . .we come back for more . . . we recognize the wrongness of our behavior and try to cover it up . . . but we are addicted and keep coming back. . . cover-up gives way to rationalization and then we try to redefine evil so that we are considered good.
Does this sound like drug addiction to you? Of course it does. Someone gets sucked in through some enticement and then they are bound. They lose sight of everything but the experience. The only thing that matters is “maintaining the high”.
- They are imitators of their Father the Devil
He is a Murderer. He destroyed Adam and Eve through His devices. He will destroy anyone else who gets in his way. Though his followers may not engage in the act of homicide they do become self-centered. Their only concern is themselves. They have no value for the lives of others and will “destroy them” if need be through character assassination, innuendo, gossip, unfair practices.
He is a liar. The followers of the Devil have been taken in by his lies and seek to pass them on to others. He lies about sin (“it doesn’t matter”); He lies about eternity (“everyone will live forever”); He lies about us (“you’re o.k.”).
He disregards Christ. The Devil seeks to draw attention away from Jesus. He may replace Him on the throne with someone else or with our own needs. He will diminish Christ by seeking to make Him an “ordinary” man. He will stop at no end in order to make Christ less than the glorious Savior that He is.
The Sons of God
- the Sons of God practice the truth. Jesus says: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” But notice who He is saying it to. Jesus is not talking to the heathen . . . He is talking to those who have just indicated that they believed in Him. Why?
I think it is because the Savior knows that one of Satan’s favorite weapons is to inoculate people against faith. He gives them a little taste . . . just enough to help them build a greater resistance to the real thing.
Jesus is aware that people come to Him initially for a number of different reasons. This is where we make a serious mistake in our evangelism. We seem to feel that the goal is to help people make a decision for Christ . . . and by this we mean: say a prayer, sign a card, walk an aisle. This is the conversion experience in the mind of many evangelicals. But not to Jesus.
The Lord recognizes that conversion comes about when a change takes place. People can come to Jesus because they admire Him. They might think He’s cool. They may thing He will meet their needs. It doesn’t matter. . . the point is that they are not coming for the right reasons. We must seek Christ as Savior AND Lord. He is one and the same. You cannot separate the two. It is a package deal.
Jesus points out that the true disciple is the one who moves from profession of faith to possession of faith. They have really changed and they show it by the way they are living.
- They are moving from head knowledge to heart knowledge. Jesus points out that as we begin to practice what He tells us to do we will come to know Him in a deeper way. You see, I can believe that God provides for all my needs . . . but when I have a need and actually trust Him for it and then find He is faithful, then I really BELIEVE. I can say that I believe God will give me words for difficult situations but when I go into a difficult situation without a planned speech and find he DOES give those words, I no longer just believe in my head but in my head.
- They are living in greater freedom. The kind of freedom that Jesus talks about is not political. When we come to obey Christ, we come to know Him in our Heart, that knowledge leads to freedom. We experience:
-freedom from guilt
-freedom from fear of death
-freedom from aimless living
-freedom from condemnation
-freedom from the addiction to sin
The true Child of God manifests all these characteristics. They are the ones who truly love the Lord. They adore the Father. They hunger for His Word. They are the ones pursuing truth with a vengeance.
1. When you look at yourself who’s imprint do you see most prominent? God or Satan? I am convinced that there are those listening to and reading this text who are deluded about who they belong to. They are like the people in this passage. Friend, it’s not too late to change. There is a Savior who invites you to follow Him. If you will trust Him He will help you follow. It’s time to stop playing at faith and start following the Savior.
2. If The Children of God are free and the Children of Satan are slaves to sin . . . WHY DO WE ENVY THE SLAVES? Why is it that we see the “stuff” they have and yearn for it? Why do we crave their power? Why do we set them up as models of successful people? They are slaves!!!
3. If the Children of God live in the truth and the Children of Satan live in a lie. . . WHY DO WE ALLOW THE SLAVE TO DICTATE OUR VALUES? Why do we allow the television to tell us what is right and wrong? Why do we allow the news media to tell us how to think? They are slaves . . . . WE ARE THE FREE.
4. Is there some area where you need to become more obedient? Is there something you are resisting before the Lord?
-a need to forgive
-a need to give sacrificially
-a need to reach out to someone else
-a need to stop some wrong behavior
Whatever God wants you to do . . . do it. Not because you have to, but because it is the next glorious step to becoming more captivated by His grace.
The next time you look in a mirror I hope you see a resemblance to Jesus looking back at you.