My daughter, Lori, grew up on the seat of our van either going to or coming from a revival, camp meeting, or church service. She served as the inspiration for many of my sermons. More than forty years have passed since those days. I’m still preaching, and she is still giving me ideas and themes for sermons. A recent call from Lori stimulated another search of God’s word.
She found an interesting quote and was excited to share it with me. The quote certainly resonated with me: “The Devil knows my name, but calls me by my sin. The Lord knows my sin, but calls me by my name.” The quote sent me looking through sermons and devotionals that I had prepared across decades. I found a message I had worked on years ago titled “God Knows My Name”. Some of the thoughts I’ll share come from that message plus a few new reflections.
Names are very important. My name holds tremendous significance for me. I am named Roy after my grandfather Roy, my mother’s father. He was a godly man with an impeccable reputation in the community for honesty and integrity. He also took his church membership as a sacred charge. I carry his name proudly.
God knows my name, and He knows your name. How can we be sure He keeps up with everyone’s name? There are billions of people on earth, but we shouldn’t be amazed that He knows our name. “He telleth the number of stars; He calleth them by name” (Psalm 147:4). A search of scripture reveals God has called people by name from the beginning such as Adam (Genesis 3:9), Hagar (Genesis 16:8), Jacob (Genesis 35:10).
An event in the Gospel of John illustrates the statement, “The Devil knows my name, but calls me by my sin.” Wicked men, doing the devil’s work, brought a woman to Jesus (John 8:44). They thrust her in front of a crowd gathered around Jesus. They said, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (John 8:4). The woman was not called by her name, but was identified by her sin so she could be condemned. However, Jesus did not condemn her. Rather, He sent her accusers scurrying away. Then He said to her, “’Neither do I condemn you.’ Jesus declared, ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 4:11). Jesus saw her not for who she had been, but for who she could be in Him.
The second phrase, “The Lord know my sin, but calls me by my name,” may be illustrated by an event in the book of Acts. Saul (Paul) was a vicious opponent of Jesus and the Church. He was on his way to Damascus to continue his murderous persecution of Christians. A great light appeared in the sky and “he fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’” (Acts 9:4). The Lord saw Paul’s terrible sin, but called him by name. He saw in Paul an Apostle and a kingdom-builder, not a killer. The ‘Good News’ of the gospel is this: the Lord knows our sin and loves us anyway. He will call us by our name, not our sin.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
~ Brother Roy