“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father, who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, didn’t we speak in your name, drive out demons and do many great things in your name?” Then I will say to them plainly, “Depart from me, I never knew you, you evildoers!”
The Bible is very clear, there is power behind the name of Christ. The name ‘Jesus’ is what frees us from sin and justifies us before God. The name Jesus drives out demons and heals the sick. The name Jesus sends a shiver down the very spine of Hell. The disciples were told by Jesus that they would do great things “in his name”… not their own. Satan isn’t afraid of me or you, but he is absolutely terrified of the one we serve! That is why demons take their sicknesses and run when the name of Jesus pierces their ears… they don’t run from the name Ryan, only from Jesus. In Matthew chapter 8, Jesus came upon two men who were possessed by demons.. there were so many demons inside them, and they were so violent, that nobody dared go near the men. When they saw Jesus they were afraid that he had come to torture them! Hundreds of demons… afraid of one man… Jesus. They begged him for “mercy”, and asked to be cast out of the men and into a herd of pigs that were nearby. Jesus allowed them to run away into the pigs, and once in the pigs they kept right on running and went off a cliff into the sea! The presence of Jesus on the road was enough to send Hell running… and he said that we would have the same effect, because we would go into the world “in his name”.
I remember when I was little and I was sent to tell my younger brother to do something, he never really cared what I had to say until I used the phrase, “dad said so”. Suddenly the task took on a whole new meaning, because it wasn’t a command from a brother, it came from the father. As Gods children, we are told to go into the world and our message is validated because we take the name of Jesus. Repent, not because I said so, but because he said so!
Way back in the book of Exodus, God gives Moses a list of rules, we call them the “Ten Commandments”, and number three on the list is “You will not take the name of the LORD in vain”. Most of the time we’re told this means that we’re not supposed to use the word “god” or “jesus” as a curse, but really, what it’s talking about, is misusing the power we’ve been given from the throne. It’s about committing fraud! When we go into the world to do Gods work, we “take the name of the lord”, we go as his messengers, his ambassadors, to speak for him and be his hands. The warning is to be very careful what we sign his name to!
If I had gone to my brother when we were kids and said, “I’m going to play video games while you go mow the grass… Dad said so!” I would have no reason to be surprised when I end up getting punished for my lie and for using my brothers obedience to our dad to manipulate him… for taking my dads name in vain.
Echoing back to Matthew 7, many people will say, “didn’t we do great things in your name?” and Jesus’ response will be, “go away, I never knew you”.
People do a lot of things, a lot of really good things, in the name of Jesus, but we also have a tendency to sign his name to anything we feel like pushing. The culture in America says that your faith is a very personal, very subjective thing and it’s completely taboo to suggest someone is wrong in what they believe, but the Bible is very clear that we can test and approve what Gods will is, the scripture it’s self is useful for correction and rebuke, and that there will come a day when Jesus says, “no, that wasn’t me, that was you and you blamed it on me.”
In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer says that “...the essence of idolatry is entertaining thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him… The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.” We spend a lot of time talking about what we think about God, but not nearly as much time seeking Him and learning what He is really like! We come to worship some other god altogether that we have created in our own image out of horoscopes, Oprah book club books, happy feelings and pixie dust, and not the God of “love and thunder” we read about in Scripture.
Many people come to worship their idea of God instead of God himself, essentially they worship their own imagination, dressed up as deity.
I’ve been going through a pretty rough period in my life, and I cannot count how many times people have tried to make me feel better by saying something like, “Relax, God knows what He’s doing!”, or the classic, “This is all happening because God has something better on the way!” … I’m sorry, I call shenanigans, and stop signing Gods name to things He didn’t do. I have heard, with my own ears, people say crap like, “God is leading me to move in with my girlfriend”, “God just wants me to focus on me right now”, “God is telling me I just need to leave my wife and find a more ‘godly’ woman”… no, I’m sorry, that was the god in your head, that just tells you what you want to hear to make you feel better about yourself and your selfish decisions. You’re taking the Lords name in vain, and pinning your stuff on him. Saying it’s God, doesn’t make it so. Oh, I’m sorry, was I out of place to say you’re wrong about what God said to you? “…didn’t we do great things in your name?” “NO! Depart from me, you evildoers!” …you use my name, but you never knew the real me! Too many people go through life, doing whatever they want to, and justifying it by saying it’s just between them and God, when it’s really just between them and their own conscience.
The God of the Bible, from what I’ve come to know, doesn’t destroy relationships, he doesn’t torment His children or give conflicting instructions. He doesn’t control our lives like puppets on strings and make us periodically dance around in fire just for fun. I don’t find comfort from any of the things I hear people say about God or what they think He is doing… I find comfort in the things God says about himself…
Blessed are those who suffer for my names sake.
Let not your heart be troubled.
In my Fathers house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you! I am preparing a place for you…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge him, and He will make your path straight!
We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but Jesus, who was tempted in every way as we are, and persevered without sin.
His faithfulness endures through all generations.
There is a worship song that contains the line, “you make all things work together for my good”, we sing it in church, but it’s total crap, it’s just another example of what we wish the Bible said becoming what we believe it says. The Bible never says that “my good” is the priority, the priority of the universe is that God will be glorified! What the Bible says is that if we love and serve God, even our tragedies will bring glory to Him… all things work together for the good of the kingdom, not of me. Jesus didn’t come to earth, die on a cross and rise from the grave to make you happy, he did it to make you holy. “Me” focused Christianity is selfish paganism. It’s not about your life, your decisions, your happiness, it’s about Jesus. It’s about God being glorified. Does God really care who you marry? NO, as long as your marriage glorifies Him! He doesn’t care where you go to school, where you work, where you live, what kind of car you drive or what kind of clothes you wear, he cares about you giving him glory with all you’ve got! He cares about you taking his name! Being his child! Speaking His truth into the world, healing the sick, bringing light to the dark and driving Hell into the sea! …and the promise of scripture is that chasing God leads to glory, but chasing yourself and pretending it’s him leads to nothing but death.