Living in the Name of Jesus
“Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” --Colossians 3:17
Doing everything in the name of Jesus does NOT mean that we simply affix His name to what we do. Jesus warned that in the day of judgment there would be those who has cast out devils “in His name,” and yet would be rejected by Him. A great deal of evil has been done through history “in the name of Jesus.” The crusaders slaughtered the innocent by the thousands; the blood of evangelical martyrs stained the medieval church; in our day Jim Jones called his followers together in the “name of Jesus.” In the “name” of Jesus, men deny His truth, His way, and receive death instead of life.
We use a “name” to distinguish one person from another, one idea from another, one object from another. In John 17, Jesus claims that He had revealed unto His disciples the “Name” of the Father, that is, the truth concerning the Father, distinguishing the true and living God from all other dead gods, including the vanity of the Pharisees.
Christ has not given us a blank check to do, think, and pray whatever we want. He has not given us His cosmic credit card to draw on the bank of heaven in order to fulfill our lusts and our desires. This passage (Colossians 3:17) means the opposite of that. The true concept is found in the following places:
Matt. 10:22: “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.” They carry His name: as He is revealed. “My name's sake” means “As I truly am, and as I have been revealed”
Acts 9:15,16: “But the Lord said unto him [Ananias re Saul], Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.”
Acts 10:42,43: [Peter to Cornelius and his people]: “And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins....” If men receive the truth concerning Jesus Christ, they are saved and have eternal life. To deny Christ is to deny His true Person and His doctrine.
I John 2:12: “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.”
I John 3:23: “And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of His son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” Believing on His name is believing the Gospel: the doctrine of Christ, not something that people make up about Him, but as He is revealed according to the Gospel witness: I John 5:9-12. John is plain: to have faith is to believe the record God gave of His Son.
We are not saved by “believing,” but by believing the revealed message concerning Christ as it is set forth in the Scriptures: I Cor. 15:1-3. We must believe in Him as He has been revealed: “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name...” John 1:12.
The name of Jesus is not a talisman that sanctifies our own will and way. It means that all we say or do as Christians must be in conformity with Christ as He is revealed. We are not to contradict the Gospel by what we say or by what we do. Jesus said it succinctly, “Why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?”
1. The doctrine of Christ is the measure of doctrine: II John 9, 10: “If any come and bring not this doctrine, do not receive them into your house, or bid them godspeed.”
2. The love of Christ is the measure of practice: “If a man provide not for his own, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.”
3. Everything is to be measured by Jesus Christ, for He is the way, the truth, and the life. The devil knows where the citadel of the Kingdom of God is. His assault is always on the person and work of Jesus Christ, for that is the citadel. Satan seeks to draw men off from Christ, by persuading them to deny His doctrine, to trust in law-keeping, to introduce vain philosophies and deceit, or to adopt a lifestyle contrary to His Way. Doing so brings death, not life, no matter what our enthusiasm.
When the church has embraced Jesus Christ as He is revealed in Scripture, and has faithfully proclaimed His doctrine, she has been strong and healthy, though hated by the world. She has been weakened and sickly when she has allowed the truth of Jesus Christ and His doctrine to be diluted with the imaginations and false philosophies of men's vain minds, even though she may be rich in goods and thinks she needs nothing (Rev. 3:17-20).