Those That Belong to the Devil
“They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
John 8:39-44 NKJV
In this passage, the Jews are saying, “We are Abraham’s descendants.” In other words, the blessing which was promised to Abraham that we are speaking of right now, they are claiming it is theirs. But the blessing promised to Abraham was that God will be Immanuel – that He will be with us – but they are claiming that this blessing of God being with us is theirs.
When God gave the Law to the people of Israel and made a covenant with them, He told them He would be with them if they obeyed the Law. However, from the start, they did not keep that promise. Maybe they were going to become a bit more mature with time; however, they did not, and instead, they displayed the traits of the devil and betrayed God. God forgave them time and time again, offering them another chance, but He deemed that it would not be possible for Him to give them the blessings He promised Abraham. Thus, He promised to make a new covenant. Hence, now it is through mercy. God established a new covenant and pronounced that by His mercy, He will be with us. Despite this, the people thought they need to obey God’s word more strictly since they had not been doing so and did wrong in the past, thinking that they could be one with God through that.
As they became zealous, they started to become self-satisfied thinking, ‘This should be enough for God to be with us.’ Hence, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law appeared. Though God already declared saying, “You are hopeless. I cannot be with you through the old covenant I established with you. I’m going to establish a new one, which is a covenant made with sinners. It’s not that I will be with you if you keep this covenant well. I will now be with you through mercy.” Despite God saying this, they ignored Jesus, who came to save those sinners. If they had heeded God’s voice and realized earlier during the times of the Prophet Jeremiah that it is impossible for man to be with God by his own abilities, perhaps they might have been ready to welcome the Savior when Jesus came. However, they did the contrary. They thought that if they obeyed the Law strictly, they could be with God. Moreover, they believed they were ready to do that, which is why when Jesus the Savior came, they rejected Him because they felt they did not need anyone like Him.
So why can’t men keep this Law? Why can’t they satisfy the conditions in order to be with God? With regard to that, Jesus came Himself and declared that they do not have the love of God in them. He even confirmed that. So what was the reason for that? He told them that they were actually not living according to their own will but that they have a father, and it was according to the desires of their father that they were living, namely the devil. He said that the devil has been a liar and a murderer from the beginning, that he kills and deceives and that he is of darkness. He told them they belonged to him, which was why they could not follow His words nor love God in the way God desires them to. That is His diagnosis of them.
Yet the people did not accept it. Instead, they tried to kill Jesus, who was testifying to God’s word and the truth, all the while claiming that God’s love and blessings were theirs. However, our God knew that through the efforts of man, it is impossible for God to be with them nor fulfil His promises to man. That is why He decided long ago that He will purchase them through His mercy and grace. For this purpose, He sent Jesus Christ. Once God sent Jesus, finally, the spiritual being called the devil was exposed. Moreover, the reason why God created the universe and the plan God had for man was fully revealed.
Thus, what we now need to do more than anything else is to receive grace. To be with God is like God getting married. What kind of bride would He want to marry? It is not the one who listens to Him who is able to satisfy His desires and do the things that He wants up to His standards. In other words, He is not seeking a bride who is clever and satisfying. Rather, He wants to marry the bride that loves Him. He wants to marry the one who will love her husband with all her heart, not the one who will help him in the work he does. Someone who looks unto her husband and regards him as her life. That is the kind of bride He is seeking, not a clever, educated, and intelligent one.
He wants to take us to heaven to live with Him eternally. But He does not want us to be those who can keep the Law to the letter. Instead, He wants those who confess that they cannot live without His love and help, who are full of deep gratitude that comes from the overwhelming joy of knowing that it was by His love that they are alive today.
The fact that God is seeking such people means that there is a lot of work to be done in heaven. It means there is a lot of work to be done in heaven. The reason He gives grace is like His tactic. It is the way He uses man. When He uses man to entrust His important work, who will He choose? Because man tends to become more arrogant when it comes to important work, He does not entrust the work to the clever ones. If you look at the Record of the Three Kingdoms or old political records, important offices were given to people who had already been through despair. When a person is completely despaired and is unable to get back up, a great leader shows his favor to him. Thus, he saves a person who was in the face of death. What would that person do from then on? He becomes a loyal subject. This person’s life was over unless that leader saved him. Since he was saved from his dire state, he in turn, becomes a faithful servant.
Even though he might have been loyal to another man before, he will pledge his loyalty only to this man who saved his life. Hence he can be trusted with work of greater importance. Confucius knew this also. So he wrote in his book that when heaven entrusts a man with a duty, the man is first made to starve, to endure extreme cold, to bear unbearable suffering and be driven to the brink of death. Afterwards, he is delivered from that state and given a great task. So whatever we do, whether it is in society or at church, when we are hitting rock bottom, the reality we see is unbearably hard, but we can still rejoice in those times. He lets us go through those trials so that He may entrust us with a greater task in the future.
Recently, I am in tears every time I have a phone call with Pastor in China. He is faced with extremely distressful situations. Though he is suffering, I think of it this way in the long term: ‘Ah, this person will be able to handle much greater things. God has found something good in that person, and in order to trust him with a greater work, He is allowing this whole process. As I can see, in the long term, I do not feel anxious together with him.
Jesus Christ has to bear the great works of heaven. He was given all authority of heaven and earth. Just because He was entrusted with everything does not mean He is just sitting around doing nothing. He is doing the greatest work. He is now in heaven and doing the greatest work. To have authority does not mean that He is always sitting there enjoying fruit platters. Rather, He must govern all the angels in heaven and countless men. There is so much work to be done. So in order to be given such great works, He was first sent to this lowest pit and experience it so that He will have the capacity and strength to handle whatever work given later in heaven. And God wants to include us in that work. He wants us to take part in it too.
Thus, He placed mankind in this Hades where the devil is active so that man can suffer at the hands of the devil in this Hades. Man goes through intense training. Then, finally, when man is in the most dire situation where he can do nothing, God bestows His grace. And the persons who receive God’s grace will pledge their loyalty to God. They pledge their faithfulness to Jesus.
And we cannot complain to God about why He uses us in this way. Even if He was to use and throw us away, we have no say because we are His creations. But since He wants to give us the glory of heaven, He wants to entrust us with greater works for which He is allowing these trials upon us for a short time. That is why we are living in this world where the devil, and in here, we became sinners, which is why we have no ability to love God. The only way for us to live is to rely on the grace of Jesus. We have to believe in Jesus to live. And the attitude we need to have before Him is a most grateful heart because without the Lord we would not be able to do the Lord’s work nor know the Lord’s heart.
So it is about grace and thankfulness. If you have a grateful heart, you will have joy. Grace, gratitude and joy. They go together. And joy is something manifested. Joy can be seen on one’s face and through power. How is it that when people cast out demons, some people display power while others do not, though they have the same name of Jesus? Because the former has joy. He is full of grace, happiness, gratitude, and joy, and it is with joy that he can cast out demons. That is how demons manifest. Do you know why? Demons never received grace. Therefore, they are not happy, they have no gratitude; they are full of resentment. They have no joy but only despair. So what a big gap isn’t it? If we try to drive out demons while filled with despair and all those things, do you think they will leave? You are in the same boat as them. Even though you might say Jesus with your lips, if you and the demons are essentially on the same boat if their temperament and yours are similar, would they leave? You will not be much different from the demons. That is why when you are filled with gratitude and joy, which is contrary to what demons have – despair and trouble – they will manifest and separate from you.
We work to the point that other people look at us with pity, but we can be grateful because we received grace. By making us hit rock bottom and tread the lowest grounds so that we can receive grace to be used for His great works is God’s tactic. He is doing this so that He can use us. That shows that when we get to heaven, there will be plenty of work for us to do. We are not going to sit around with our minds blank nor float around in heaven like clouds. In heaven is a reality that is more concrete than the reality we have on earth, and there each of us will be given duties to do. But since the devil will not be there, our spirits will be so joyful to serve the Lord. For the flesh, it is tormenting, but in heaven, we will not have this flesh. We will have a spiritual body. The devil will not be there either. When we serve God there, it will not be as hard and distressing as it is here on the earth. That joy will be like Hephzibah and Beulah. The joy of meeting God and serving Him. Hephzibah and Beulah. That joy of meeting God and serving Him will be like a husband and wife coming together for the first time after marriage. The joy of meeting God and serving Him. We are the ones who received grace. Even though we are in the world ruled by the devil, our path to victory is filled with the joy of receiving grace. Let us pray that we can be filled with that joy.
Father God, thank You for the grace You bestowed upon us. Though we are living in the world where the devil is at work, we know that it is because of a great plan You have for us. Help us to receive more grace, long for grace, and work with gratitude and joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on December 12, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team