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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Friday Evening, January 25, 2008

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

Jonathan Edwards was born in 1703 and died in 1758. His conversion took place when he was about 17. He began preaching before the age of 19. For about 8 months he preached in a small church in New York City. He then was called to Yale to become a tutor and remained at Yale for two years. In 1724 he was called and ordained at the First Church at Northfield, Massachusetts, where he served as associate pastor alongside his grandfather, Dr. Solomon Stoddard. His grandfather died two years later and Edwards became the pastor.

The First Great Awakening of 1734-1744 broke out in his church, and in some neighboring churches, largely under his preaching. His sermons had a powerful influence on his audiences and even influenced the views of the great evangelist George Whitefield, who worked with Edwards for a while in the First Great Awakening. Even from his early preaching days Edwards was known for his deep thought and fiery preaching. His voice was not commanding, and his gestures were few. But many of his sermons were overwhelming (The above paragraphs were adapted from Elgin S. Moyer, Who Was Who in Church History, Keats Publishing, Inc., 1974 edition, p. 129).

Under the influence of Edwards’ preaching, his Northampton congregation and several nearby churches experienced a powerful religious revival in 1734-1735. Beginning in 1739, again under Edwards’ preaching, another more extensive revival occurred known as the First Great Awakening. During this time Edwards met George Whitefield, who promoted Edwards’ writing in England. His books were published in England by John Wesley. And Dr. Isaac Watts recommended that they be read. His books and sermons were the bedrock from which this mighty revival in the mid-18th century sprang. Not only did he promote the First Great Awakening, in a very real sense he was the instrument God used to ignite this greatest of all revivals. Late in life Jonathan Edwards became the president of Princeton. (The above paragraph is adapted from J. D. Douglass and Donald Mitchell, editors, Who’s Who in Christian History, Tyndale House Publishers, 1992, p. 224.)

Tonight I am giving you a condensed version of William C. Nichols’ comments on Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “That Wicked Men are the Children of the Devil.” Please hear these comments on Jonathan Edwards’ sermon.

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

In the 8th chapter of John, Jesus is speaking with religious Jews who, according to verse 31, had “believed on him.” These were not ordinary unbelieving heathen. They claimed Abraham as their father and believed they were following him. Jesus, however, informs them that they are not only slaves to sin; but also that their father was not really Abraham, but the Devil (John 8:44), “Ye are of your father the devil.”

Satan’s name was originally Lucifer. He rebelled against the authority of God and tried to overthrow God’s government, and set himself up as God. The prophet Isaiah describes his proud desire for self-exaltation,

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14).

Lucifer was not content to live in obedience and submission to God and His authority. He wanted to make himself “like God.”

It is no coincidence that Satan tempted Adam and Eve the same way. Satan told Eve that if she ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil she would be like God,

“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).

In other words, you won’t need God to tell you what to do anymore. You can be self-sufficient and independent. You can determine what is good and evil for yourself. You can become your own god. Desiring to be “as gods,” Adam and Eve instead became like beasts when they rejected the authority of God. They became totally corrupt and depraved. Every motive of their hearts became selfish. They were filled with love of self, and a desire to live only for themselves, to achieve their own selfish purposes, and fulfill their own selfish desires. By sinning like this they became like the Devil himself. All of Adam’s offspring inherited this depraved nature, which puts “self” at the center. That is true of every human being.

Another sermon by Edwards is titled, “The Nature of Man is So Corrupted That He is Become a Very Evil and Hurtful Creature.” In that sermon Edwards said, “Man naturally has no other principle to direct…him in his actions but self love…he [has] no sincere regard at all to the glory of God or the good of others. He will seek his own profit, his own advancement, and the gratifying of his own appetites, no matter how that affects the good of others.”

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

The Devil loves himself more than any other being in the universe. He wants men to imitate him and follow him by lifting themselves up in the place of God, and living to please themselves.

As we have said, Adam fell when he sought to become like God, when he sought to become independent of God and self-sufficient; to become a god to himself. In all he does, natural man seeks pleasure for himself through satisfying his lustful, carnal desires; or he seeks power, honor and glory for himself by feeding his own proud ego. Edwards said, “They are like the devil in that they are controlled by lusts and sins of the same kind as his. They have the same wicked nature. Satan and unconverted men are the same by nature. There is the very same enmity against God; the same pride and malice. Unconverted men have a devilish nature…sin in both man and in the Devil rises from self-love.”

But unconverted men do not want to admit this about themselves. Unconverted men become just as angry [within themselves] as the Jews were in Jesus’ day when they were told by Him,

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

The unconverted say this is not true of them, even though it is true. They think highly of themselves. Edwards said, “You are ready to look upon yourself as doing many good things. You read the Bible and pray, and think you have done many good things. And it seems to you that the good deeds you have done should be respected by God, but God doesn’t think of you the way you think of yourself. God knows that no matter what good things you do, the Devil is still your father; and you are one of his children. For in spite of all your outward goodness, you have the poison of the snake within you. You are one of the generation of poison snakes, even though you do not see this in yourself. Yet your heart is indeed like the poisonous nature of Satan, that old serpent.” Thus, the hearts of the unconverted and the Devil are very much alike.

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

Edwards makes use of this doctrine to awaken men to the “wickedness of their own hearts.” He warns that, “Since you are the children of the Devil, God looks upon you with as great displeasure as he does upon the Devil. All of Satan’s children are looked upon by God with great anger. God is angry with the wicked every day, that is, He is angry with you when you are sleeping, and when you are awake, when you are sitting down or standing up. God’s anger burns against you at all times.” God urges the unconverted to “see and admit that it would be fair and just for God to continue to… despise you, and damn you for all that you are, and for all the wickedness that you have done: because God is not unjust or wrong when He damns the Devil, and you who are his children.”

But unconverted men today do not really see and admit that it is right, and it is just, for God to damn them. No one will believe that until he is humbled and broken by the Spirit of God because of the wickedness of men’s hearts and natures.

The Bible says,

“God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11).

When a verse like that is taught today it may anger the unconverted and those who have had a false conversion. But if we do not teach what the Bible teaches, we are truly misleading lost souls.

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

We are leading people astray when we ask them to say, “Our Father who art in heaven” [in the “Lord’s Prayer”] when God is not their Father at all. Their true father is the Devil,

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

Edwards said, “If you are truly the children of the Devil, you will be destroyed by God, just like your father, the Devil. You will be with him in Hell. You will be with the Devil in the same everlasting fire, and you will be looked on with the same disgust as God does, and as the holy angels do for all eternity.” The next sermon in this series from Jonathan Edwards will tell you exactly what the torments of Hell will be like.*

*This message is condensed from William C. Nichols’ comments on Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “That Wicked Men are the Children of the Devil,” International Outreach, Ames, Iowa, taken from The Torments of Hell: Jonathan Edwards on Eternal Damnation, published by Mr. Nichols in 2006.

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