Two Names

When a bride is wedded to her husband, she then takes on his name, his identity. She is no longer called by her old name. The same happens when we (Christians) are converted. Collectively, we are the bride of Christ, and we are now each individually identified in Him. The convicting and sealing work of the Holy Spirit has revealed to us our new identity in our Bridegroom, and He has also caused us to long for our future consummation; our corporately arranged marriage to the Son by the Father.

There are several type and shadow examples of this identity change in scripture which point to this wonderful truth:

Genesis 32:28 (ESV)
“Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.””

Genesis 17:5 (ESV)
“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”

Genesis 17:15 (ESV)
“And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.”

John 1:42 (ESV)
“He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).”

These examples of identity change should give us joy, and cause us to long for the day when our identity change will be made complete. The prophet Joel describes this wonderful, future moment which all brides long for:

Joel 2:15-16 (ESV)
“Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.”

But, until that time, we are to remain here; sometimes forgetting that we now have a new identity; wrestling with our old and new name; for God’s good purpose in sanctifying us; conforming us to the likeness of His Son; preparing us for our wedding day.

Paul expresses what this challenging time is like, in his letter to the Galatians…

Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV)
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

Paul, who wrote about this war inside of us all, had also written about how we are to deal with it. He comforted the Philippians in their time of sanctification; teaching them that this time of inner wrestling was about God’s good pleasure in changing us…

Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

So, how are we then to be delivered from those moments when we slip back into thinking that our old names of Jacob or Simon (instead of being called Israel or Peter) are our names?

Paul gives the simple solution:

Galatians 5:25 (ESV)
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

When we do sin, acting in our old identity, we must turn back to Him (repent), remembering our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the work that He had accomplished on the cross, changing our name, because “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

May we look forward to the day of our wedding, when we will no longer go back and forth between two names, but finally… only embrace one:

Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV)
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Godspeed, to the brethren!