Who am I? I can pull out my driver's license, social security card, passport, a birth certificate, credit cards, and they all prove to you that I am Richard Lawry born in Madison, Tennessee. There is no one else in the entire world who can be me.
Have you ever Googled yourself to see what comes up in an internet search of your name? I did. I found an actor named Richard Lawry who appeared on four different tv shows in the 1990’s. I found out that in 2014, Richard Lawry passed away in a motorcycle accident. Richard Lawry is the chairman of EGL, a merchant banking firm focused on merger and acquisition advisory services and providing capital to early and growth stage businesses.
One of the more interesting stories that I found was the 1794 murder of Lieutenant Richard Lawry in Newfoundland. Lieutenant Lawry oversaw a press gang. The purpose of a press gang was to enlist men forcibly into service in the navy.
When I was in school, I learned that one of the causes of the War of 1812 was that Americans were outraged by the British Royal Navy’s practice of impressment, or removing seamen from U.S. vessels and forcing them to serve in the British Navy. Impressing American sailors became a common practice, with an estimated 15,000 American sailors impressed into the British Royal Navy in the years leading up to 1812.
Although I knew about the impressment of American sailors, I was not aware of the impressment of sailors from the Maritime Provinces in Canada. The Crown claimed a permanent right to seize men of seafaring experience for the Royal Navy. The men pressed into service were usually sailors in the merchant fleets, but would often be ordinary apprentices and laborers.
As you can imagine, these press gangs were extremely unpopular. They took men from their families by force and left many cities with a diminished work force. The use of press gangs sparked resistance, riots, and political turmoil in seaports such as Halifax, St. John's, and Quebec City. In spite of its unpopularity, the Royal Navy increased the use of press gangs in coastal areas of British North America. In response, sailors and residents fought back with a range of tactics. They sometimes reacted violently.
The murder of Lieutenant Richard Lawry happened in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1794. In October of that year, the warship Boston was ready to set sail from St. John’s after taking on supplies for a long voyage. The Boston was short eighteen men, so Lieutenant Richard Lawry led a press gang ashore to impress men into service. Lieutenant Lawry and several other sailors were escorting two recently impressed sailors when a mob attacked them.
I had to stop Googling myself because I had already spent several hours just searching the internet for Richard Lawry.
I’m sure you have heard of a crime that is now quite common: identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The FTC estimates that as many as nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.
The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make or until a debt collector contacts you.
A few years ago I read in the news a bizarre identity theft story. Jakadrien Turner ran away from home in the fall of 2010 when she was just 14. She left home because of the stress caused by her parents' divorce and her grandfather's death. Jakadrien made her way to Houston, where she was soon arrested by police for shoplifting a white shirt, black vest, and jeans.
That's when things took a bizarre turn. Jakadrien gave the police a false name, and her new alias just happened to match up with the name of a 22-year-old Colombian citizen who had been in the United States illegally. To make matters worse, the Colombian national had a warrant out for her arrest.
Authorities believed Jakadrien’s story because she maintained her false identity throughout the process. They handed her over to an immigration judge, who ordered her removed from the country. "At no time during these criminal proceedings was her identity determined to be false," the agency says.
Her grandmother, Lorene Turner, had been looking on her computer every night for clues to her granddaughter's location and was cooperating with Dallas police as she carried out her search. She spent months monitoring Facebook postings she believed to be her granddaughters that led her to think that Jakadrien was in Columbia.
When the story was reported in the U.S. media, The Colombian Institute for Family Welfare confirmed that Turner was in its custody. The institute said that Colombian authorities learned that this female might be a 15-year-old American citizen, after which she was placed in a protection program there.
Now I’m sure that you or I would never think of being identity thieves. A person’s identity is the most important thing that they own. I want to take a few minutes and talk about your spiritual identity
How does the Bible identify you? 2 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV) “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” You are a child of God. Someone wants to steal your identity. Can our spiritual identity be stolen? How do we protect our identity?
Revelation 13:16 (NKJV) “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads.” What do we call this mark? We refer to it as the mark of the beast. It sounds like someone wants to steal our identity.
There is a clue about how Satan will operate in Revelation 13:17 (NKJV). “No one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
As Christians, we always focus on the mark but did you listen to the or. One who has the mark or the name of the beast. How would we end up with the name of the beast?
I want you to notice that God equated his name with character traits. Satan doesn’t want you to have the name of God. He wants to give you his name. That is the name of the beast. He wants you to take on his character traits. Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV) “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
If your name equals your character traits, then this is the name of Satan and the name of the beast. I take great comfort in the fact that some of these things I have absolutely no problem with. Unfortunately, I don’t have to have all of these traits to take on the name of the beast. Any of them will do.
What does God want in our hand and forehead? Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (NIV) “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”
God wants us to keep his words in our hands and on our forehead. Satan wants us to have his mark in our hands and on our forehead. Satan knows that as a Bible student and fully aware Christian, you won’t go for his mark, so he will be just as happy for you to have his name.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV) says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
Satan knows that he might not be able to get you with the Mark of the Beast, so he devised a new plan. He won’t give you the mark; he will give you his name. Satan is happy with giving you just a part of his name. You don’t have to be a Satan worshipper to have his name. You just need to have a few of his characteristics.
Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.” “No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king.
Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other. All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king. Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!”
Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!” But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!” Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!”
Satan says I don’t care if you go to church. I don’t care what day you go to church. I don’t care what you eat or if you pay tithe. I don’t care what your doctrinal beliefs are. As long as I can have a piece of you, it’s fine with me. If you have just a bit of my character, my name, I don’t care what else you call yourself. Christian, Child of God. I just don’t care as long as it is hyphenated with my name.
God doesn’t want hyphenated Christians. In the commandments, he tells us, “Don’t take my name in vain.” He doesn’t want us to be an identity thief.
Change your behavior or change your name. God wants people with his whole name, not hyphenated. Not having a form of godliness but denying the power of God. God wants people with his name. God wants people with his character. Galatians 5:22,23 (NKJV) “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Don’t be like Jakadrian who stole the identity of someone and ended up being deported. You are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. You are a child of the king of the universe. With an identity like that, why would you want to be an identity thief?