A friend and I were conducting a church service at a Juvenile Detention Center when in response to a controversial and provocative answer given by my friend (a fellow Gideon), one of the participants in the audience (apparently out of amazement) challenged us by asking , “where does it say in the bible that when we are born we are children of the devil?”
I answered the question by referring the audience to the 3rd chapter (verse 19) of John’s gospel where I pointed out that Christ condemns us for innately (innate because of Adam’s sin nature that we inherit as his offspring) preferring darkness over light because we are inclined to choose evil; obviously this is an unexpected criticism for someone that is born as a child of God. I also took the audience to Romans 3 to establish the fact that:
…There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. [We] are all gone out of the way, [We] are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. [Our] throat is an open sepulchre; with [our] tongues [we] have used deceit; the poison of asps is under [our] lips: [Our] mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: [Our] feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in [our] ways: And the way of peace have [we] not known: There is no fear of God before [our] eyes. (Romans 3:10-18)
Once again, I pointed out that these aren’t exactly the attributes that you would expect from people that were born as children of God. When I got home that evening, I re-read the handout that my friend had prepared for our service and realized that one of the verses he included on the handout provided another answer to the “children of the devil” question. In the verse included on the handout (John 8:46-47) Christ says:
Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
This verse definitively pronounces that we are not God’s children since only those that are born believing in God (i.e. none of us) can claim that they belong to God.
To be sure, there is no one verse in the bible that states specifically that “when man is born he is a child of the devil”; however, this truth is a good and necessary consequence that follows from numerous propositions in scripture. Let’s look at a few of them:
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
(1 John 3:8-10)
This seems to be the most conclusive of the verses in scripture that portray us as who we really are (that is before believing in Christ): children of the devil. Since we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and any one that committeth sin is [born] of the devil (1 John 3:8), then it follows by good and necessary consequence that we are all born children of the devil.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
As the verse above implies, we do not become children of God until we receive (or believe in) Him.
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
If we were born as children of God then we wouldn’t need adoption into God’s family. The fact that we must be adopted demonstrates that we are not born as God’s children.
I will end this article by quoting my pastor, Lon Solomon. He preached a sermon on this very topic (back in 2005) in a series called: Jesus’ Most Outrageous Sayings. Incidentally, I highly recommend this series; in fact, in my opinion, it is his best series to date. The sermon entitled “You are of your father the devil” established from the scriptures why we are not all God’s children in contrast to the popular notion held and uttered by many.
In this sermon, among other things, Pastor Solomon proclaims: “To be a child of God is a privilege that is reserved exclusively to those that place their personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ and what He did for them on the cross, it’s then and only then that we enter into a family relationship with God… then we become God’s children and He becomes our heavenly Father.”