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Grace Notes

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ARE YOU WALKING IN THE NAME OF THE LORD?
by Philip Owen

          In a prophecy concerning the coming millennial reign of Christ, Micah predicted that God’s chosen people, Israel, will finally be faithful to their God and Savior: “Though all the peoples walk each in the name of his god, as for us, we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever” (4:5). What does it mean to “walk in the name of the Lord our God”? And how can we do that?

            When my son was small he misbehaved in some fashion (I can no longer remember the specifics, but it was a minor infraction). I am ashamed to admit that I came this close (imagine my forefinger and thumb being a quarter inch apart) to saying, “Son, Owens don’t do that.” Thankfully, the Holy Spirit stopped me before those fatal words breached my lips. He reminded me, in effect, “No, that’s the problem. That’s exactly what Owens do. They sin.” He might have added, “And McKays” (my wife’s maiden name), “and Joneses, and Smiths, and McGillicuddys.” And whatever your name is. Sin is what we all do, regardless of our family or our last name; we are all part of the fallen human race. We walk according to our name, which is “Adam,” sinful humanity, so to speak.

            Since it is an incontrovertible fact that we all “walk in our own name”—i.e., sin—what does it mean to “walk in the name of the Lord our God”? The next chapter of Micah’s prophecy gives us a hint. The prophet speaks of “the majesty of the name of the Lord His God” (5:4). Majesty speaks of the grandeur, dignity, and glory that attends a sovereign. The psalmist David offered further insight when he advised: “Sing praise to the Lord, you his godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name” (30:4). God’s ultimate majesty resides in His holiness, His unique distinction from all created beings and His utter separation from sin. To walk in the name of the Lord, then, is to manifest the character of the One who saved us and brought us into His family. As it is the nature of humanity to sin, so it is the nature of the redeemed to live righteously, to accurately reflect the character of the Lord. And only those who share that name, Christian, by grace through faith, can “walk” in that name. Mere human good works, regardless of how impressive they may be or how beneficial they might be in temporal terms, fail absolutely to qualify as walking in the name of the Lord. We could far better walk in the name of a Windsor (place your paragon of royalty or importance here) than in the name of God—without His saving and sanctifying grace and His indwelling Spirit.

            So how do we walk in that name? How can we faithfully express the nature and character of the One who delivered us from sin and brought us into His family? Micah again suggests the answer. “And He [Christ] will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will remain” (5:4). Although Micah gave this prophecy regarding the Millennial Kingdom, the principles have universal application. In other words, to walk in the name of the Lord requires us to follow our Savior/Shepherd. He governs us through His Word. (We obey it.) He guides us by His Spirit. (We listen to Him.) He strengthens us. (We refuse to make decisions or pursue actions in the strength of our own abilities.)

            And how can we be sure we are walking in the name of the Lord? Micah answers: “This One will be our peace” (5:5). First, do we have peace with God? That is, has the sin-issue that separated us from God and condemned us to hell been taken care of through faith in Christ’s sacrificial death for my sins? Second, are we living in obedience to the will of God as revealed in His Word so that He can bestow the peace of His approbation on our lives? And when that becomes the reality of our lives, we will reflect those described by Ethan in the eighty-ninth Psalm: “In Your name they rejoice all the day, and by Your righteousness they are exalted” (v. 16).

 

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