A few years ago, I had a long conversation with a friend who had fallen into a strange brand of “ministry” that was heavily focused on deliverance or as it’s more commonly known, exorcism. The conversation had many treks and bunny trails, but through it all, God was speaking very clearly to me. He would say, “this is what he’ll ask tomorrow, and this is the answer you will give him”, and then the man would ask the exact question, and I would have an answer.
It was a sad experience because this “ministry” was having people invite demons into themselves and then supposedly exercising them, but everyone involved in it experienced a lot of problems afterward, and this friend and others refused to listen to the warnings God was giving them, not just through me but many others.
One of the questions that kept coming up was how could someone cast out a demon in the name of Jesus and not be a follower of Christ? Or how can someone heal the sick in Jesus’ name and not be a follower of Christ? Or do miracles in His name and not be a follower?
And yet Jesus says that this can and will happen: “Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:22-23)
At another point, the disciples come to Jesus and say, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us."
To which Jesus replies, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:38-40)
But Jesus did not say, “Oh yeah, that’s George. We go way back. You’ll get to know him more in eternity.”
So how is that people who are not following Christ, and who Jesus says very bluntly are going to hell, can perform miracles, cast out demons, even prophesy?
The answer is that they can do it because of the power in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ in Hebrew is Yeshua or Yahweh Saves. Every time I say His name, I feel two things: intense love but also a little bit of awe. I’m calling on the name of Almighty God, the God who created the universe with a word.
The ones who Jesus will turn away in the end use His name to do amazing works, but refuse to love Him by obeying His commands (John 14:15)—what do you think lawlessness is?
Honestly it makes me a little ill not just when I see people invoking Jesus’ name to work miracles despite hating Him in their actions, but also when I hear people so casually cast around His name at dinner or bedtime prayers; it’s almost like they don’t know the One who they’re asking to bless their food at all.
Honestly, I’ve been guilty of using His name without giving Him the honor He’s due as well, much to my shame.
Father forgive me, and help me to love Your name and Your Son’s name with reverent obedience.