In John 8:42–47, Jesus performs a spiritual paternity test for Jewish religious leaders. The Pharisees professed to be children of Abraham (John 8:33, 37, 39), but Jesus told them, “You are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44, NLT).
Jesus identifies the devil as a liar. There is no truth in the devil because his character is wholly deceitful and dishonest. God, by nature, is truth (Jeremiah 10:10; Psalm 43:3; 25:5; 26:3; 86:11; Isaiah 65:16). He is the uttermost opposite of the devil. It is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18; see also Numbers 23:19), for He only speaks the truth. But lies roll effortlessly off the devil’s tongue because untruthfulness is his “native language” (John 8:44).
The Pharisees claimed Abraham as their father, but their character was nothing like that ancient patriarch. Abraham was “God’s friend” (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). He obeyed God and listened to His truth. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father” (John 8:39–41).
Jesus essentially said that a person’s nature reveals his true paternity. If Abraham is our spiritual father, we share in his character. If Abraham is our father, we will have the faith of Abraham. We will believe in God and obey His truth (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6). If God is our Father, then we “participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:1–4) and walk in His truth (Ephesians 5:8–9; 2 John 1:4; 3 John 1:4). And if the devil is our father, then we share in his evil nature, and there is no truth in us.
The devil is the original liar. Jesus calls him the “father of lies,” referring to Genesis 3:1–13, where the serpent lied to Eve, thereby introducing sin into the world. Satan’s first lie was a contradiction of God’s truth. As the archenemy of God, the devil opposes God and His purposes in this world (Matthew 16:23).
One of the primary tactics the devil uses against God’s people is to falsely accuse them and distort God’s truth (Revelation 12:10; Job 1:8–11; Zechariah 3:1–2; Acts 13:8–10). Satan’s goal is to separate people from God (1 Thessalonians 3:5; Luke 22:31; 1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26). The devil often lures people away by making sin attractive (Matthew 4:1–11; 1 Corinthians 7:5; James 3:14–16). The apostle Paul warned, “For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). The devil’s lies sound appealing and rational, but they lead people captive to sin and, in the end, death.
Jesus urged the Jewish leaders to hold on to His teachings so they might know the truth, and that truth would set them free (John 8:31–33; Galatians 5:1). God’s truth sets us free from sin and death (John 8:36), but the devil’s lies keep us in bondage.
Satan’s deception prevented the Pharisees from hearing, understanding, and loving Jesus (John 8:42–44). The devil had blinded their minds and hardened their hearts to God’s truth (2 Corinthians 3:14; 4:4). They were sold out to the devil. Jesus told them, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (John 8:47). The Pharisees belonged to their father, the devil.
The devil’s essential disposition is that of a liar. There is no truth in the devil because lying is all he knows. He has been deceiving people since the beginning of time (Genesis 3:4–5; 2 Corinthians 11:3). He is a devious perverter of truth (2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26) and a counterfeiter of truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9). He is always scheming ways to deceive anyone who will give him an inch of control over their thoughts and lives (Ephesians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 2:10–11; 1 Timothy 2:14; 1 Peter 5:8). But Jesus Christ is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Knowing Him and abiding in His Word is the only way to experience true spiritual freedom (John 8:31–32).