In the Beginning, the Creator revealed Himself to His Creation in a form they did not expect! They looked for a Political Messiah, One who would save them from the ravages of Rome, but instead, they got a Spiritual Saviour, One who saved them from the ravages of Sin & Death, bringing the Creation back into Blessed Communion with their Creator. These then rejected their Messiah, handing Him over to those they wished to be saved from & watched while Rome crucified Him! There was a Remnant, however, a minority who believe in the Messiah & mourned His death; these were named The Children of God!
Those who stood idly by & scornfully watched Jesus die, those who sought for political salvation, were called by Jesus Himself, 'children of the devil': according to John ( 8:44 ), He told them 'You are of [ your ] father the devil'. Like the serpent of old, they were instigators in leading Israel to seek their own righteousness, an earthly, sensual & demonic wisdom. Rather than seeking first the Kingdom of their God & Father, they sought a political kingdom, one like the nations around them, one with a human king that they could see with their eyes & touch with their hands!
To rightly differentiate between the Children of God & the children of the devil, we must first understand what is meant, Scripturally speaking, when this phrase is used. Are we to understand it physically, in the sense that not all are children who are the creatures of God, or should we understand it spiritually, or metaphorically, like when Jesus told Nicodemus, 'you ( all-plural ) must be born again' ( John 3:7 )? Then again, we must understand that those 'children of the devil' were those who rejected Jesus, their Creator in the Flesh, as the Messiah & instead sought after their own righteousness ( through the Law ) & their own sort of wisdom!
The language that Jesus used here is clearly metaphorical! In his penning of the Revelation, John relied pretty heavily on this literary tool to describe the downfall of these 'children of the devil', apostate Judaism. The question before us today is, 'if the devil was destroyed, cast into the lake of fire, then are there still 'children of the devil ( as opposed to Children of God ) among us?' To most Christians, even some of those who believe the devil was cast into the lake of fire, the answer is obvious; of course there are! Anyone who has not received His Son, Jesus the Christ, is not a Child of God, but rather a child of the devil!
We seem to run into a bit of a problem here, though; if the generation is counted in a physical sense, as in Jesus was speaking of their father Adam as the devil, then we cannot have any children of the devil still existent, because the first man Adam was done away with, replaced by Jesus, the Last ( Man ) Adam. If, however, we are dealing with spiritual generation, those apostate Jews were 'children of the devil' because they were murderers like their father, Cain, the son of Adam! Spiritually speaking, they were descendants of Adam who had fallen into sin in the Garden & passed on his spiritual legacy of rebelliousness to his children. This would seem to be the most plausible explanation, except for the fact that we know that these Jews were descended physically from Adam, through Abraham!
Well, one could say that, not only were the Jews descended physically from Adam, those who rejected the Wisdom of God, the Righteousness of Christ, also carried on the spiritual rebellion of Adam! Although, by virtue of birth, they were known as Children of God or Israel, by their fruits they were recognized as children of the devil because they carried on the spiritual heritage passed down by the first ( man ) Adam!
In some sense, the answer is clear; children of the devil still exist today, not necessarily because their spiritual father is Adam, but because they have that spirit of rebellion! They are not, as some might suppose, driven by the devil that John saw cast into the lake of fire. It is pretty obvious, on the hand, that the same ( sort of ) spirit that worked in 'the sons of disobedience' ( Ephesians 2:2 ) is at work in many people today! When that spirit is overcome by the Spirit of Christ, then that one becomes a Child of God spiritually, as well as by physical generation!
In the Eschatology of Scripture, there was a Beginning & there was an End! That End ( Goal ) of course was Jesus the Christ, God in the Flesh, the Creator come down from Heaven to Earth to invest Himself in the midst of His Creation! He did this in several phases, the first of which was the Creation of Covenant, then in the fullness of time, He appeared in the Flesh to atone for the sins of His People & to defeat death. After His atoning Sacrifice, He returned to His Glory & left His Holy Spirit to comfort His People during the final death throes of the serpent. The Father sent His Son & Comforted His People by His Holy Spirit till the Eschaton had reached it's Goal!
Every human being who has ever lived has been, from a merely physical standpoint, a child of their Heavenly Father! Some may take exception to this, explaining that just because one is God's Creation doesn’t make that one a Child of God; fair enough, we may argue semantics all day, but really all we're going to get is a blue face & a dead horse! The undeniable fact is, though, as a justifiable Creation, they are in that sense a Child of God, not a child of the devil!
With the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, the End ( Goal ) of Eschatology, something changed, Death was Defeated! No more was there a separating curtain, a veil to hide the Creator from His Creation, no more was there a separation between Jew & Gentile for the Creation was all One in Christ, in the Creator Himself!
As believers in Fulfilled, or Covenant Eschatology, should we continue this distinction between the Children of God & the children of the devil? Can we not see that the Creator of all is not willing that any of His Creation should perish? All are His children & though some of them, as we all were, are driven by a selfish spirit of rebellion, that spirit of rebellion may be driven from them by our witness & conversation. May we, as the spiritual Children of God, encourage those who have distanced themselves from their Heavenly Father to return to Him as the Prodigal Son in Luke's Gospel account ( Luke 15:1-31 )!
Charles Haddon Shank