“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world (Galatians 4:3).”
We have heard it said of late that God’s children were once children of the Devil! We must ask all those who believe that notion to consider the verse quoted at the head of this article. Note the italicized words, “when we were children.” Now Paul does not say “when we were children of the Devil,” for that is not the subject under consideration here. Those who hold such views might reply, “But he didn’t specifically state they were God’s children either.” Consider for a moment Hebrews 2:13-14: “...And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same....” Here it is expressly stated they were children before they partook of flesh and blood. If these are not “eternal children” I must confess my ignorance of the matter. This is obviously in eternity for these children had not yet partaken of flesh and blood.
Indeed, in the matter of redemption, Christ took part of flesh and blood because “the children” were partakers of it. Were these the Devil’s children? No, they were the children of God given by Him to Christ in eternity. Christ did not come to deliver Satan’s children; He came to deliver His own children who were held in bondage by Satan. Note again the text at the head of this article. When we were in bondage we were not the Devil’s children, for why would Satan have to hold his own in bondage? The reprobate, who are the seed of Satan, do the works of their father because it is their nature to do so.
Consider for a moment the parable of the prodigal son. Would any be so bold as to say that the prodigal in his wanderings became the son of anyone other than his father? When he spent his substance on riotous living was he not still his father’s son? When he would fill his belly with the husks the swine did eat was he the son of a swine, or of the owner of the swine? No, he was just as much the son of his father as when he lived at the home and worked with his father and brother. When he returned home after he came to himself he wanted to be made as one of his father’s hired servants, but that could not be. He could not change the fact he was a son and though he thought himself unworthy of being called a son, he was received according to his birthright.
God’s children, when they are brought to see their birthright by the working of the Holy Spirit within them, see the bondage in which they have been held and freedom which is their birthright. They were as sheep going astray, but they were sheep. To say that one can be a child of the Devil today and a child of God tomorrow would be the same as saying we were as goats going astray, but are returned as sheep. Goats are not made sheep any more than sheep can turn into goats. The work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth is to give them life, a life that was theirs in Christ before the worlds were formed. This life manifests itself in the new or heavenly birth. A new man is formed and two men exist where just one was before. This new man has been brought forth after his kind. The heavenly birth which brought him forth gave him a heavenly nature, which was his by virtue of his being a child of God. We have borne the image of our earthy father, Adam, and so we shall and do bear the image of our heavenly father, as well. God’s children are descended from Adam in their flesh, and bear the marks of his fall, but nowhere in the Scriptures is it said the elect bear the image of Satan. A child bears the image of his father, both in nature and in grace.
Let us consider one more scripture before coming to a close. In Ephesians 2:2 we read, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.” Many would stop here and suggest that those so walking were the Devil’s children who are born again children of God. But, if we look at the rest of the verse we see, “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience,” not in God’s children. God’s children walked in the ways of the Prince of the power of the air, but they were not children of disobedience. They were not children of wrath, else how could God have loved them with an everlasting love and with lovingkindness drew them to His Son by His Holy Spirit? This everlasting love is manifested to His children because they are and always were children, not in order to make them children. If this does not mean they were eternally children then what does it mean?
Elder R. N. Lackey
March - April 1992