The LORD JESUS gave the instruction that we should be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. Also when God appeared to Abraham, He told him, ” … walk before me, and be thou perfect.” Gen. 17:1. I understand from this word of the LORD that perfection or uprightness or maturity is possible as we walk before the LORD daily. As we encounter God daily and have a firsthand knowledge of Him, He speaks to us and shows us what we need to deal with and what we need to be cleansed from.
In the year 1993, I was led to change my surname which was rooted in idolatry, however, prior to this time, the danger in bearing an idol name after salvation was not clearly seen. Even when convicted of it, I used to defend myself with a scripture that did not mean what I thought it meant. My surname then was OPAFEMI, which was a name after an idol of “New Yam.” They normally put an iron rod painted white in the shrine of this Demon. You need to know that names like Opafemi, Opayemi, Opakunle, Opadotun etc. are borne in honor and glory of this idol. When my grandparents used to worship him, they thought he loved them. Hence my grandfather bore OPAFEMI meaning that the god represented by the iron-rod loves me. This is no doubt giving glory to an idol, which could neither see, hear, move nor speak. What an abomination indeed, robbing the Living God of His glory! Paul said, “For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” Acts 17:29. The Living God who created the heavens and the earth and all that are in them, is the one who loves both the heathen and the righteous. Glory be to His Holy name in the Highest. Amen.
In ignorance and yet assuming that I knew, I used to use Psalm 23 verse 4 as an excuse for bearing the name. It says “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. I used to temporarily silence my inner voice by saying that it is this scepter, this rod of God that loves me. I used it to win the argument on it with people who dared to confront me for bearing an idolatrous name. But I thank the LORD JESUS CHRIST who by His Holy Spirit did not leave me alone and kept on convicting me on it with the truth of the scriptures. By His grace, the understanding came that the ‘rod’ in Psalm 23 is a rod of righteousness that corrects and protects the righteous ones. Its source is from the LORD JESUS the King of righteousness and the shepherd of the souls that are in right standing with Him. Whereas the source of the name – OPAFEMI is earthly and demonic and antichrist. As the story has it, this ‘OPA’ is an iron rod painted white and erected in the shrine of the Demon god called ‘Orisa-oko’. His priests and their converts regularly worship this god; most especially when the new-yam is about coming out. These priests and their associates dare not eat the yam nor sell it in the market before sacrificing it first to the abominable idol. Usually it is a time of real celebration and worship of the devil. There is a strong covenant between them and the god and there are penalties for breaking it. So they jealously watched it to the extent that nobody dared eat the new yam before the damnable idol eats it first. In error and ignorance they gave glory to the idol instead of the LIVING GOD who gave the new yams.
I grew to know that many who were not in their camp did secretly eat the yam either in the farm or at home. As the Holy Spirit continued to deal with me on the issue, it dawned on me that if I am truly born-again and have become a child of God, then I should bear a name to the glory of God who loves me. While the Holy Sprit was dealing with me, He was also dealing with my younger brother. So he asked me for the meaning of the surname that we bore. I therefore opened up to him that the name was giving me concern also. I told him to hold on until our father would come to visit us. As God would have it, our father came the very week and I called for a family meeting as the first-born. As we gathered, we prayed and I told him our burden and asked him to tell us the history behind our name. He humbly told us in more detail than what I summarized above. He concluded that he no longer believed in the idol ever since he became a Christian. I then humbly told him our convictions as Christians, and in the light of the scriptures, we should not bear a name after any idol. God said in Deut 11: 26-28, “Behold, 1 set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which 1 command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known”.
1 said that it is clear in the scripture that there is a standing curse of God on anybody who serves any idol or gives glory to him. We discovered that no one could remove this curse unless God Himself after one must have repented of the sin and had been washed in the precious blood of JESUS. I reminded him of some unpleasant things that had been happening in the family. The curse of God on anyone makes one vulnerable to the devil. It gives the devil the legal right to ravage one’s life. God demands that whatever we do, say, or eat should give glory to God. Even the name that we bear should give glory to God and not to any idol. 1 Corinth. 10:31. God said, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images”. Isa.42: 8. We all saw it that we erred and we repented and asked for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Then we stood as priests for our generations and broke every covenant made on our behalf with the demons of Orisa-oko, We made the penalties of the covenant of none effect by the blood of Jesus Christ. We rejected the name of the idol (OPAFEMl) and by the leading of the Holy Spirit chose a beautiful name OLUWAFEMI to the glory of God. OLUWAFEMI means THE LIVING GOD LOVES ME. AMEN. Who else loves us but the Most High God, The Creator of the universe? Glory be to Him.
The devil had never loved anybody and can never and will never love anybody. His mission is very clear as JESUS CHRIST revealed it. He said, “The thief (devil) cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good Shepherd, the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep”. John10:10-11. A song also bears witness as follows:
“We are the people of God called by His name, brought from the dark and delivered from shame, one only race, saint everyone because of the blood of Christ, JESUS the Son. So, hear-us you Spirit of darkness so you may know where we stand, we are God’s chosen purchased with scars, we have been bought by the blood of the Lamb”.
This song confirms God’s desire for His people in Acts 15:17 which says, “That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. ” In the light of this scripture also, we can see that God’s desire – that His children be called by His name. Notwithstanding the devil also who counterfeits (imitates fraudulently) raises up children that are called by his name directly or indirectly. But remember there is a curse of God on anyone who is idolatrous or glorifies idols. But God said, ” They shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.” Num 6:27 Praise God for there is God’s blessing waiting for his children who are called by His name. This is further explained in Deut. 28:10-13 as follows, “And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee, and the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord swear unto thy fathers to give thee. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in His season, and to bless all the work of thine hand; and thou shall lend unto many nations; and thou shall not borrow, and the Lord shall make thee the head and not the tail; and thou shall not be beneath; if thou hearken unto the commandment of the Lord thy God which I command thee this day to observe and to do them;”
Another flimsy reason given by some serious minded Christians for bearing idolatrous names is that when people hear their idolatrous names, they will praise the Lord for saving idol worshipers. I used to hold this view also but glory be to God who delivered me from it. The LORD quickened a thought in me one day that each time they call me OPAFEMI, the devil is happy and rejoicing that though you call yourself a Christian, you are still bearing my name. I still have a claim over you. Worse still, as a servant of God when you are invited to preach elsewhere after every other good introduction about you, they will crown it that you are the son of Orisa-Oko. I was terribly shocked by this revelation and pleaded for God’s mercy. In the light of this I crave the indulgence of precious people of God bearing Ogundele, Ikuromu, Ifaniyi, Oyakunle, Ogunleye Owolabi etc., that you should humbly seek the LORD about the idol names you bear; because the name you bear has a far-reaching effect on you. As I turned to the LORD, He removed the veil from my eyes in 1994 and the difference has been very clear since then. He will do the same for you if only you can humble yourself and live out the truth.
This reminds me of two instances of name changes in the Bible. In the first case, God called Abram to get out of his kindred and hometown and follow Him to a land that He would show him. This he did in simple faith and obedience. But a time came when He wanted to bless him the more, He changed his name. I said bless him the more because by His grace, he was already rich in cattle, silver and gold but no child. But when God wanted to bless him with children, He said, “As for me behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shall be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham, for a father of many nations have I made thee”. Gen. 17:4-5. Do not be complacent for God has better things in stock for you but desire to grow in the knowledge of Him and you will receive more blessings like father Abraham. It is measure for measure. Abram means lofty or high father, while Abraham means father of many nations or father of multitudes The other one was the name of Jacob which changed to Israel. Jacob means a “sup planter”, a manipulator. We knew how this name terribly affected him before God changed it for him. He deceived his father Isaac to receive the blessings that belonged to Esau. He also deceived his father-in-law. But when he encountered God, God changed his name to Israel meaning a prince with God. “And he said, thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for a prince has thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” Gen. 32:28. Since then God has been glorified in his life.
As our relationship with God gets deeper, our knowledge of Him grows and we are changed into His likeness and He will shine forth through us. It is written, “But grow in grace, and in the KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. AMEN” II Peter 3:18. Peter in the concluding part of his address to those who long for new heavens and a new earth where righteousness reigns admonishes them to grow in the KNOWLEDGE of GOD and detest error. To this effect he said earlier in chapter one, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the KNOWLEDGE of GOD, and of JESUS Our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the KNOWLEDGE OF HIM that hath called us to glory and virtue. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the KNOWLEDGE of Our Lord Jesus Christ” – II Peter 1:2-8.