John’s Gospel records lengthy teachings of Jesus. Sometimes Jesus did not speak in a straightforward manner, especially to those who were jealous of his popularity and who were challenge him; often he uses figures of speech. These were beyond their ability to understand. Chapter 8 today is full of this kind of language. His opponents claim, “Abraham is our Father” causing Jesus to say “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did … you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil … He was a murderer from the beginning …” (verses 39,43,44).

The way Jesus uses the word ‘devil’ needs understanding; it becomes clear when compared to chapter 6, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil” (verse 70) – clearly referring to Judas Iscariot.

There is no neutral position in Bible language. The first murderer was Cain, he was the first to make himself an enemy of God – even before he murdered his brother, he wanted to set his own standards in approaching God. It has been so ever since! We show our genuineness in acknowledging God in the way we live. In those early times, the acknowledging of God descended to virtual nothingness by Noah’s day. And today?

Elsewhere, sometimes the translators do not render the Greek word ‘diabolos’ as devil. Remember Paul’s description of attitudes in “the last days … (when) people will be lovers of self, lovers of money … unholy … slanderous … lovers of pleasure …” (2 Timothy 3:1-4). The word ‘diabolos’ occurs in the Greek, but the translators choose use the word ‘slanderous’ to translate it – the AV has “false accusers” – those whose heart is “false” – as Judas’s became. In that sense many today without true hearts could be classed as devils.

We are living in the last days and the world seems to have many “devils”. But the vital point is that we must think and live as “children of God” – a greater vision still than the Jews wanted to have as “children of Abraham”. Let us strive to succeed where they failed.

Remember in Luke Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and who ever does not gather with me scatters” (11:23). The place to gather is in God’s word, notice how often Jesus quoted from it. Let us do the same and show that we are children of our heavenly Father.