Everyone we meet has two fathers. Everyone. They have a biological father and a spiritual father. Biblically, their spiritual father is either God or Satan. The Pharisees incorrectly thought they were children of God, and said to Jesus, “The only Father we have is God himself” (John 8:41). Here’s an example were perception was not equal to reality. Jesus refuted them, saying, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23), and “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father” (John 8:44a). According to William Hendriksen, “Identity of inner passions and desires establishes spiritual descent: they are constantly desiring to carry out the wishes of the devil; so he must be their father. The devil desires to kill and to lie, and so do they.” We live in a divided world where “the good seed are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38; cf., 1 John 3:10).
Those who are children of Satan are called “sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2), are under “the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18), and reside in his “domain of darkness” (Col 1:13; cf., Rom 2:19). These walk “in the futility of their mind” (Eph 4:17b), and are “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph 4:18). Paul said that Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). But these are not unwilling victims; for though they are born into Satan’s kingdom and “held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim 2:26), they also enjoy what he offers and are said to “love the darkness rather than the Light” (John 3:19). The word love in this passage translates the Greek verb agapao (ἀγαπάω), which is in the active voice and means they willingly love the darkness of Satan’s world system and all their affections are tied to it. They continue as residents of his kingdom by choice and not by chance. Freedom awaits them if they want it. Freedom in Christ. But they don’t want freedom. And when given the opportunity to be liberated from their captor, they prefer to clutch their chains of familiar pleasures and practices than to step into the unknown freedom and responsibilities of liberty in Christ. Jesus said of them, “you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:40).
The apostle Paul described them as “men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18), are “without excuse” before God (Rom 1:20), and “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Rom 1:22-23).Of those who are negative and set their wills against God, three times it is written that He “gave them over” to “the lusts of their hearts” (Rom 1:24), and “to degrading passions” (Rom 1:26), and “to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (Rom 1:28). Once God permits a person to operate by his sinful passions, that person is given a measure of freedom to live as he wants, but not without consequence, both in time and eternity. Furthermore, “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Th 2:11-12).
To say that Satan is someone’s father also means they are his children by imitation. Jesus said of Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44b). By his actions, Satan became the murderer of souls, directing the first humans into sinful acts that ultimately led to their spiritual death and the enslavement of all mankind (Gen 2:17; 3:1-6; Rom 5:12, 14, 19; 6:23). According to William Hendriksen:
From the very beginning of the history of the human race the devil had murder in his heart, and he actually plunged the human race into the ocean of death, physical, spiritual, and eternal (Rom 5:12; Heb 2:14; 1 John 3:8)…The devil, then, is the very wellspring of lies, the creator of falsehoods (see Gen 3:1, 4; Job 1:9, 10, 11; Matt 4:6, 9; Acts 5:3; 2 Th 2:9, 10, 11). When he lies, he is original. When he does not lie (Acts 16:16, 17), he quotes or even plagiarizes; but even then he gives the borrowed words a false setting, in order to create an illusion. He ever strives to lie and deceive, and this he does in order to murder.
Those who are children of Satan: 1) are spiritually deceived, 2) belong to Satan’s world-system (are of this world), 3) share Satan’s desires, 4) have murder in their hearts, and 5) practice lies and deception to promote their agenda. These persons are generally inclined to harm others spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, or even physically, which endangers the well-being of those near them. As growing Christians, we are to show them love and grace when possible (Matt 5:44-45), but also guard ourselves against their attacks (Acts 20:28; 2 Tim 4:14-15).
Satan is a master strategist who seeks to plant his agents into all organizations whereby they can have a destructive influence on others, especially if they can promote a departure from the Bible and its morals in the NT. These agents of Satan will promote lies, deception, violence, and murder to obtain and retain their places of pride and power. Today, we observe their corrupt influence in the seminaries, government, the press, academic institutions, the military, businesses, sports, entertainment, and society in general. The Christian influence that once guided our country is diminishing, and short of a spiritual awakening, the trend toward evil will only get worse.
As a growing Christian, I am not neutral. I make it a point to study God’s Word every day, walk by faith in the Spirit, speak truth, show love, demonstrate grace, and pray for others (both saints and sinners). If there comes a time when we, as Christians, should face rising persecution, we must be ready. The more time we spend learning God’s Word and walking by faith, the better equipped we will be to stand against attackers who may seek to silence us by whatever means they can.
It is to our benefit to realize we live in a fallen world, and when we walk with God, in total devotion to Christ, the world will reject us. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). We understand that the gospel of grace and solid Bible teaching will, on occasion, threaten other people’s pride and power, and we should not be surprised when they react negatively and with hostility, either verbally or physically. If possible, we are to get along with others and pursue peace (Rom 12:18), but never at the price of neglecting our mission to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), or gather together for Bible study (Acts 2:42; 2 Tim 2:15), fellowship (Heb 10:25), worship (Eph 5:19-20), and prayer (1 Th 5:17). Because we live in a fallen world, there will be times when we must choose whether we will serve God or man. Of course, the correct choice is, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; cf. Dan 3:18). And though we may enjoy periods of peace and blessing, the world is currently under Satan’s control, which means it will only get worse, not better. As Christians, we are both realistic and optimistic about the world and the future. Realistic that we will not win the world to Christ during our time on earth (though not for want of effort by sharing the gospel and Bible teaching), and optimistic because we know Christ is coming back and will make everything right when He returns. Lastly, we must keep our focus on God and His Word (Isa 26:3; Col 3:2, 16), as it provides mental and emotional stability when trouble comes (and it will). Adversity is inevitable, and we must handle it by wisdom and faith.
Mature Christians make it their life’s mission to glorify God by learning and living His Word, to share the gospel of grace with others who will listen, edify others with biblical teaching and godly living, and love others sacrificially with integrity. We say with Paul, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
Dr. Steven R. Cook
- The Gospel Explained
- Satan as the Ruler of the World
- Where Satan is Attacking in America
- Satan’s Evil World-System
- Satan’s Strategies to Defeat God’s People
- Steps to Spiritual Growth
- Standing Against the Forces of Darkness
- The Bible as Divine Revelation
- Guard Your Heart
- Helping the Poor
- When the Wicked Prosper
- The Righteous Lifestyle of the Believer
- Living in Babylon
 Jesus is the sole exception, for by the God the Holy Spirit He was supernaturally conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary and was born without original sin or a sin nature. Furthermore, Jesus lived His entire life in perfect obedience to the Father and committed no sin (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5). He said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). And when He reached the end of His earthly mission, Jesus said to the Father, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4).
 William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 2, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 60.
 William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 2, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 60-61.