“Honoring the Beloved Part 1” – Deuteronomy 5:11

April 30th, 2017

Dt 5:11

“Honoring the Beloved Pt 1”

Aux Text: Malachi 1:6-14.

Call to Worship: Psalm 148


Service OrientationWhen we regard God without honor we betray our hearts and minds demonstrating that we do not really know and love God.


Bible Memory Verse for the WeekYou shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. — Deuteronomy 5:11


Background Information:

  • It would be going too far to assert a strict sequential order of values in the Ten Commandments, but the overall impression seems valid. God’s priorities for human moral attention are:  God, society, family, life, sex, property.  It hardly needs to be pointed out that in Western society at least, modern culture has almost precisely inverted this order of priorities.  Having built a whole ideological worldview on breaking the tenth commandment, it is hardly surprising that we have trampled over the preceding ones until the first is virtually meaningless.  Why call on people to worship no other God when most would claim to worship no God at all?  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 66)
  • If the First Commandment mandates the One and Only God’s authority, and the Second rejects the authority of all other gods, the Third Commandment comes to teach us about the holiness of God, the sacred nature of our relationship with God, and our responsibilities to each other in His name. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 93)
  • The Jews of the OT most definitely understood the need to show reverence for God by honoring His name. The scribes who copied Scriptures by hand had many, many complex rules that enabled them to copy them very carefully and accurately.  One of them was that whenever they came to any of the secondary names for God–such as El, or El Shaddai, Elohim, or many others–they would stop and put down their pens and take up new pens and carefully write that name.  But a very different rule applied when they came to the principal name that God had used to reveal Himself, the name “Jehovah” for which they used the four letters, YHWH.  Before they wrote this highest and best name, they would rise from their seats and go into their personal quarters.  They would take off their robes, bathe themselves, clothe themselves with new, clean garments and return to their work.  There they would kneel down, confess their sins, take a new pen, dunk it once into the ink well and write those four letters, YHWH–for Yahweh.  (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 66)
  • The Israelites took the idea of profaning God’s name very seriously; so they did not pronounce the name of God–probably spelled Yahweh–in conversation. They usually substituted Yahweh with adonay, which is the word for lord.  So in most of our modern English Bibles, when Yahweh appears in the Hebrew, we find ‘LORD” in capitals and small capitals.  When adonay appears, it is rendered as “Lord” with the letters after the first letter in lower-case.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 181)
  • This name was held so sacred that it was pronounced only once a year by the priest when giving the blessing on the great Day of Atonement (Lv 23:27). Israel came to value the name so much that when Scribes copied the manuscripts and came to the name Jehovah, they would stop, ceremonially bathe all over, and then go back to the scroll with an unused pen!  Jehovah was the awesome personal, covenantal, promise-keeping name of God that must not be misused.  (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 55)
  • Nowhere in Scripture do we find any indication that the tetragrammaton–the four letters constituting the sacred name YHWH–is too sacred to take upon our lips, as orthodox Jews allege. In fact, even the names of idols like Ashtoreth, Cemosh, and Milcom are mentioned in Scripture without hesitation (e.g., 2 Kgs 23:13).  The only consideration is the purpose for which they are used.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 73)


The question to be answered is . . . What does it mean to misuse the name of God?


Answer:  The name is the character and the nature of God.  To misuse the name of God is to treat God without honor, respect or esteem.  If we respond to God with contempt, disgrace, dishonor or without proper weight, we demonstrate we do not truly love or even know God.


The idea of “misuse” (which the KJV renders “take. . . in vain”) means “unreal, empty, frivolous, insincere.”  (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 55)


The Word for the Day is . . . honor


We are men of action.  Lies do not become us.  —The Princess Bride movie


We are men created in God’s image and likeness.  Sin does not become us.  — Pastor Keith


It’s an issue of Respect.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 69)


We try to say that what comes out of our mouths is really no indication of what we have in our hearts.  Yet Scripture always links what comes out of our mouths with our hearts.  (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 91)


What are we to learn from the third Commandment?:

I-  We dishonor God when we misuse His name.  (Dt 5:11 see also: Rom 2:23-24; 1 Cor 6:20; 2 Cor 7:1; Phil 1:20; )  


The overall application of this is that any promise we make, whether we call God as a witness or not, is made in the presence of God and must be kept, because as Christians, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, God’s name is automatically binding upon us, whether we verbalize it or not.  Any Christian life that is not radically sincere and truthful misuses the name of the Lord our God.  (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 91)


Therefore we ought to be so disposed in mind and speech that we neither think nor say anything concerning God and his mysteries, without reverence and much soberness.  (Calvin, Institutes, 2.8.22)


Cursing God; profaning God’s name; misrepresenting God; pretending a special relationship to God for personal gain; using God’s name to manipulate; invoking God’s name while engaged in evil (remember the Crusaders raping and murdering with the sign of the cross embroidered on their chests and banners); making vows, oaths, or promises you don’t really intend to honor–all these defy the Third Commandment.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 93)


In the Bible God’s name represents who God is.  We pray in the name of Christ because we know that God gives us the confidence to ask what we ask.  By their actions humans, especially those who are known as God’s people, can represent God in such a way that his name looks empty or worthless.  This command literally translates as “You shall not lift up the name of Yahweh your God to emptiness or worthlessness.”  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 176)


Whereas Jewish tradition tends to see here a ban on the flippant use of the divine name in oaths, Christians often view it simply as a taboo on verbal profanities.  Some treat it as a prohibition on the magical use of Yahweh’s name to exercise power over another person.  Literally the Hebrew translates, “You shall not bear/carry the name of Yahweh your God emptily.”  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 163)


At issue is Israel’s status and function as the people of Yahweh.  They may not claim Yahweh as their covenant Lord and then live as if they belonged to Baal.  The consequences of misrepresenting Yahweh are declared only in the vaguest of terms:  these Yahweh will not acquit (NIV “hold guiltless”).  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 163)


God’s name (Ex 20:7; Dt 5:11).  To “take (up) the name. . . in vain” (lit., “for worthlessness,” i.e., for no good purpose) is to use it irresponsibly, whether in worship (cf. Ps 50:16; Isa 29:13), in common speech (cf. Mt 5:34) or in an attempt to wield power (cf. Acts 19:13ff.).

Jacob (at Peniel, Gn 32:30) and Manoah (Jdg 13:18) had the sanctity of this name sharply impressed on them, and Moses’ vision of God was crowned with its proclamation together with a catalogue of the divine attributes (Ex 33:18f.; 34:5ff.).  It is part of God’s self-giving; not to be exploited, but to enable men to call on Him in truth, and “to enter a worshipful and uplifting fellowship” with Him (R.S. Wallace, The Ten Commandments, 53).  Hence the godly are “those who love thy name” (Ps 5:11), and who are dedicated to seeing it hallowed and glorified (Mt 6:9; Jn 12:26, 28).

The warning “the LORD will not hold him guiltless” (Ex 20:7), may suggest a primary context of perjury (i.e. a false oath may gain you earthly acquittal, but not heavenly); but the ninth commandment partly covers this, and the first four are chiefly concerned with the wider issue of the relationship of God and man.  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 5, 674)


Based on strong ancient Near Eastern texts that illuminate this command, this prohibition is aimed at preventing any false or frivolous use of the Lord’s name.  The name of the deity expressed the essence of the god.  (John H. Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Vol. 1, 452)


Question 99.  What is required in the third commandment?

That we, not only by cursing (a) or perjury, (b) but also by rash swearing, (c) must not profane or abuse the name of God; nor by silence or connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; (d) and, briefly, that we use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence; (e) so that he may be rightly confessed (f) and worshipped by us, (g) and be glorified in all our words and works. (h)

(a) Lv 24:11-16.  (b) Lv 19:12-13 (c) Mt 5:37; Jam 5:12 (d) Lv 5:1; Prv 29:24 (e) Jer 4:2; Isa 45:23 (f) Rom 10:9-10; Mt 10:32 (g) Ps 50:15; 1 Tm 2:8  (h) Rom 2:24; 1 Tm 6:1; Col 3:16-17 (Heidelberg Catechism)


Question 100.  Is then the profaning of God’s name, by swearing and cursing, so heinous a sin, that his wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavor, as much as in them lies, to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?

It undoubtedly is, (a) for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God, than the profaning of his name; and therefore he has commanded this sin to be punished with death. (b)

(a) Prv 29:24; Lv 5:1 (b) Lv 24:15-16 (Heidelberg Catechism)


How do we misuse God’s name?:

IA-  When we use God’s name as any other name(Lv 22:32; Num 14:11; Dt 28:58ff)


When we mention the names of kings, we give them some title of honor, as “excellent majesty”; so should we speak of God with the sacred reverence that is due to the infinite majesty of heaven.  When we speak slightly of God or his works, he interprets it as a contempt, and taking his name in vain.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 85)


When we use God’s name in idle discourse.  He is not to be spoken of but with a holy awe upon our hearts.  To bring his name in at every turn, when we are not thinking of him, to say, “O God!” or, “O Christ!” or “As God shall save my soul”–is to take God’s name in vain.  How many are guilty here!  Though they have God in their mouths, they have the devil in their hearts.  It is a wonder that fire does not come out from the Lord to consume them, as it did Nadab and Abihu.  Lv 10:2.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 85)


Of all the sins we commit, this one is a sin we enter into without temptation or provocation.  If we are having a difficult time, we should call upon the almighty God, Maker of the universe, Creator of life, to help us.  There is no good reason for misusing His name.  (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 67)


Every oath should be a testimony of true piety, whereby the majesty of God Himself should obtain its proper glory.  Moreover, it is clear that not only when we swear by God, His name is to be reverently honored, but whenever mention of it is made.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. II, 408)


The aim and object of this Commandment is different, i.e., that the honor due to God may be unsullied; that we should only speak of Him religiously; that becoming veneration of Him should be maintained among us.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. II, 409)


IB-  When our actions speak against our pious words.  (Lv 21:6; 22:2; Mal 1:6-2:10; Mt 5:34; Rom 2:23-24)


Pretended holiness is merely double wickedness.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 85)


Nothing is more likely to turn persons away from a pastor’s guidance than that pastor’s own behaviors that clearly reveal that he does not take his own precepts seriously:  When they observe that our actions are unworthy of the words we utter, they turn to blasphemy, saying that it is a myth and a deception.  (II Clement, Sec. V, par. 13, AF, 66)


The show of power pretending to have God in hand can be evident in long prayers or long discourses in which the name of God is used incessantly.  Jesus warned against excess verbiage, on the basis of which pagans believed they would be heard (Mt 6:7; in older commentaries this was termed battologia pharisaica, the excess of words used by Pharisees in their showy prayers).  What strikes us about Jesus’ own teaching on prayer is the simplicity and sobriety.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 86)


If a man leads a good life but preaches bad doctrine, this is a great offense, because he should not be believed.  If, on the other hand, he teaches good doctrine but leads a bad life, people say:  If what he teaches were true, he himself would live it. (Martin Luther, “Sermon on John 8:46-50,  WA 27, p. 78; WLS 3, 1123)


The Lord is not happy when his people use his saving name frivolously, superstitiously, or to wish evil instead of good on someone else.  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 63)


In Moses’ day the name of a person or a god was considered to contain certain powers.  Therefore, Balak, the Moabite king, attempted to employ Balaam for the purpose of magically cursing the Israelites in the name of the Lord (Nm 22-24).  This third commandment strictly prohibits man from attempting to harness God’s power for personal ends or for a worthless idea.  Any attempt to manipulate God for personal ends is wrong.

Although the preceding paragraphs may specify the main reason we should not take God’s name in vain, here are some other possibilities that are also forbidden:

Profanity–the use of God’s name for every trifling occasion or in an anti-God manner–is prohibited.

Hollowness or empty formality in the professed worship of God is forbidden.  When we sing God’s praises from a vacant heart or pray without devotion, we are using His name in vain.

This commandment can also be broken if we make a vow to God and then do not fulfill it.  When we commit ourselves to obey God and then are disobedient, we are in violation of this commandment.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 102)


IB1-   When we profane God’s name by our words or actions.  (Lv 19:11-12; Jer 44:10; Ez 22:26; 33:31; Hag 1:8; 1 Cor 6:20; 2 Cor 7:10; Ti 1:16)


When we profess God’s name, but do not live answerably to it, we take it in vain.  “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him”  Ti 1:16.  When men’s tongues and lives are contrary to one another, when, under a mask of profession, they lie and cozen, and are unclean, they make use of God’s name to abuse him, and take it in vain.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 85)


Obedience to the third commandment requires earnestness in our living.  The Heidelberg Catechism declares that we must use God’s holy name with respect and reverence, to the end that He may be rightly confessed and worshiped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works (Answer 99).  This seriousness comes to expression in our use of the Bible, in the intensity of our praying, and also in formulating our plans.  Whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we must do everything to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).  Otherwise, we do injustice to the weight of His name.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 99)


Whatever we get bored with, we perceive as smaller than us.  (Peter Kreft lecture “The Mystery of the Sea”)


To take Yahweh’s name in oath and then tell lies was also to “lift up the name to vanity,” for perverse ends.  The corruption of the courts was one of the major complaints of the prophets, and part of their recipe for full repentance was a return to effective honoring of the third commandment and the ninth (cf. Isa 48:1b; Jer 4:1f.).  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 73)


It is silly and childish to restrict this to the name Jehovah, as if God’s majesty were confined to letters or syllables; but, whereas His essence is invisible, His name is set before us as an image, in so far as God manifests Himself to us, and is distinctly made known to us by His own marks, just as men are each by his own name.  On this ground Christ teaches that God’s name is comprehended in the heavens, the earth, the temple, the altar, (Mt 5:34), because His glory is conspicuous in them.  Consequently, God’s name is profaned whenever any detraction is made from His supreme wisdom, infinite power, justice, truth, clemency, and rectitude.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. II, 408-9)


Breaking your word is to not “walk with God” or be “holy like God.”  When you break your word, you make your word profane.  And, since the making of vows and covenants comes ultimately from God, you profane the name of God.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 89)


The beast from the sea who wages war against the saints, and the multitude in league with him, blaspheme the name of God (Rv 13:5-9).  This is an assault upon God’s power and majesty.  Such conduct characterizes also those who refuse to be converted, in spite of the plagues God sends upon them (Rv 16:9, 11).  But believers also can, by means of their attitude and conduct, bring discredit upon the name of God.  A wicked lifestyle on the part of Christians can be the occasion for outsiders to blaspheme the word of God (Ti 2:5).  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 79-80)


In the Bible, cursing had religious significance, but today cursing is so secularized that people use the word god without intending to say anything about God.  For most people who do this, God is dead–someone at whom nobody hurls insults anymore.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 82)


Christians, especially leaders, can dishonor God through bad behavior.  Here are some examples.

–    Sincere Christians often associate the projects and ideas of a Christian leader with God’s will.  They participate in a project with the attitude that they are doing it for God.  Later they find out that this does not seem to have been God’s will after all.  God’s name is dishonored because God was associated with a project that was not his will and proved to be a failure or a disaster.

–    Some leaders urge giving to God’s work and use some of the funds to support lifestyles way above that of those who sacrificially gave to the work.  Some projects are aimed more at enhancing the leader’s reputation than God’s name.

–     Sometimes leaders push people to accept an idea saying it was God’s will even though they were not sure about it.  Examples include encouraging one to marry or not to marry a given person and urging someone to leave his job to join the church because he seems to have gifts that can be of great benefit to the church.  Often I qualify the advice I give with something like, “This is what I think:  I am not sure whether this is God’s will.”  Even Paul did that in 1 Cor 7:12 when he said, “To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) . . .”

–    False prophecy is very common today.  Later Moses will speak of severe punishment for prophets whose prophecies are not fulfilled (Dt 18:20-22).  This happens all the time today, and we seem to ignore it.  It is a very serious thing to make prophecies as direct messages from God.

–    We all know of wars between nations and conflicts between Christians within the church that are fought in the name of God.  Sometimes both sides claim to have God on their side.  We should be very careful about bringing God’s name into our battles.  It could help rouse support for the cause, but it could really hurt the much more important cause of Christ.  This is especially true of political causes.  As a visitor to the United States I sometimes feel very uneasy about issues that Christians are fighting for as being God’s battles.  Coming from another country where a different dynamic is at work, I wonder what makes a particular cause so Christian, especially when other Christians seem to oppose it.  If we do this indiscriminately, the next generation might reject God because he was, in the minds of these people, on the wrong side.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 181-2)


IB2-  When we fear or worry.  (Ps 23:4; Ps 27:1, 3; 46:2; 49:5; 112:7-8; 115:11; Prv 3:5-6; Mt 6:25-33; Luke 12:22-29; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7; 1 Jn 4:18)


IB3-  When we treat those who bear God’s image with contempt.  (Gn 1:26-28; Lv 19:14; Prv 14:3; 17:5; Am 2:7; Eph 5:21; Jam 2:1-7)


One also senses that attacking one of God’s creatures can be an attack upon the name of the Lord.  Anyone who mocks the poor insults their Maker (Prv 17:5).  You may not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person (Lv 19:14).  These actions also violate the third commandment.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 76)


Sometimes God is dishonored by the presence of corporate unholiness in the church.  God says, “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:23, 24).  If the poor are given a less significant place than the rich in contradiction to what is taught in Jam 2:1-7, we dishonor God through injustice.  Even greater injustice is done when people from a certain race, caste, or class are made to feel unwelcome in a church.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 180)


IB4-  When we lack faith and do not trust God to care for us.  (Lv 18:21; Nm 20:12; Dt 14:23; Prv 3:9; 30:9; Mt 6:19-34)


He is glorified when the power to be holy comes from humble faith in future grace.  Martin Luther said, “[Faith] honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard, since it considers him truthful and trustworthy.  The trusted Giver gets the glory.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 220)


In times of prosperity, the godless say that there is no God–thereby scorning the Lord who, according to all appearances, is not going to require an accounting anyway (Ps 10:3-11, 13).  Riches induce one to ask lightly, Who is the Lord?  But poverty can have the same effect, when poor people assault God’s name on account of their poverty (Prv 30:8-9).  Blasphemy is committed by everyone who despises the word of the Lord and violates His command (Nm 15:30-31).  It happens when someone who knows God’s name, His revelation, who is fully aware that God has the right to prescribe the law for His people, still remains unaffected.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 78)


Every time I think I can fix it (my sin problem or FWS) I lower the holiness of God.  — Steve Brown


IB5-  When we speak evil of God in our complaints.  (Ex 22:28; Dt 17:12-13; Rom 13:1-7)


When we complain, what we are really saying is, “I could have done a better job than God in this instance.  If I had made the choice, I would have done this and so…”  This is blasphemy.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 95)


Making God look bad.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 73)


When we speak evil of God.  “The people spake against God.” Nm 21:5.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 91)


IB6-  When we speak against God’s Word.  (Ps 119:120, 161; Isa 57:15; 66:2)


There is a rabbinic teaching that states, “Do not stand in a place of danger and pray for a miracle, lest it not happen.”  Though God may have some grand plan for us, He has also given us free will to determine our fate.  When we hold God responsible for the problems we have brought upon ourselves, we effectively take God’s name in vain.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 72)


Testing God to protect, provide, or reward you for some action or to punish you for an ill action is an insult to all that God has already provided and continues to provide.  This is a profane attempt to challenge and manipulate God’s will and to make God over into the tooth fairy.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 72)


Abigail Van Buren (“Dear Abby”), counselor for millions, regularly tells her correspondents that sexual fantasy is normal and harmless—and even beneficial so long as the imagined illicit relationships are not carried out.  She goes even further, blasphemously saying that the teaching of Christ on lust is one of the most damaging religious teachings ever put upon the human race. (R. Kent Hughes; Disciplines of Grace, 132)


That adulterate the word, and wrest it in a wrong sense.  Such are heretics, who put their own gloss upon Scripture, and make it speak that which the Holy Ghost never meant.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 87-8)


IB7-  When we use God or Scripture to defend our sin. (Gn 3:11-13; Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13)


When we prefix God’s name to any wicked action.  Mentioning God in connection with a wicked design, is taking his name in vain.  “I pray,” said Absalom, “let me pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the Lord, in Hebron.” 2 Sm 15:7.  This pretense of paying his vow made to God, was only to cover his treason.  “As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet ye shall say, Absalom reigneth;” chap 15:10.  When any wicked action is baptized with the name of religion, it is taking God’s name in vain.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 90)


To bring Scripture to defend any sin is to profane it, and to take God’s name in vain.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 87)


When a religious leader or charity misuses funds, he hurts people spiritually as well as economically.  Such leaders place themselves in positions to be judged more harshly because their connection to a religious organization demands a higher degree of honor.  Unlike businesses, in which people invest money for profit, religious organizations are run for the express purpose of doing good.  When someone who claims to do God’s work to help others is in fact helping himself, he deserves the public scorn that comes his way because he has violated more than a legal trust–he has violated a sacred, holy trust.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 76-7)


Scandals by religious leadership perpetuate the misguided idea that religion is hypocrisy and all religious people are hypocrites.  The arrest of a minister, claiming a worldwide ministry, for defrauding donors, or of a rabbi for money laundering is an act of blasphemy because it belittles God and estranges not only the perpetrators but also their followers, people who lose their faith as a result of the disillusionment over their fallen leader.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 77)


It amounted to wrongful use of divine things to achieve one’s own ends–often at the expense of other people.  This commandment, then, attacks not the careless and casual use of God’s name, but rather the deliberate use of it for evil purposes.  True reverence would certainly avoid irreverent language; but more, it humbly acknowledges God’s power and bows to it, never seeking to impose it upon others.  (David F. Payne, The Daily Study Bible Series: Dt, 39-40)


The word of God is profaned, in general, when profane men meddle with it.  It is unseemly and unbecoming a wicked man to talk of sacred things, of God’s providence, and the decrees of God and heaven.  It was very distasteful to Christ to hear the devil quote Scripture, “It is written.”  To hear a wicked man who wallows in sin talk of God and religion is offensive; it is taking God’s name in vain.  When the word of God is in a drunkard’s mouth, it is like a pearl hung upon a swine.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 86)


The “misuse” or “lifting up” (lit. Heb.) of the name of the Lord for an unworthy cause or in an unworthy manner destroys the proper use of the name in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving and substitutes a blasphemous manipulation of witchcraft and other supposed sources of power for a holy invoking of God’s name.  Such unworthy methods are denounced in 18:9-14.  They will not go unpunished.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 54)


Lifting up the name of Yahweh to emptiness’ (to translate the phrase literally) probably means using it in the context of the worship of other gods, or perhaps simply in a false, manipulative way.  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 128)


IB8-  When we use God’s Name to empower us.  (oaths, prophecies, plans, or ideas) (Lv 19:12; Dt 18:20; Acts 19:13ff; Jam 4:13-15)


This is how we push for what we want, using God’s name to lend force to our plans.  Mentioning the Name, after all, strengthens our power.  People must now follow us, for we have God on our side.  Often this is accompanied by noble intentions.  People imagine that they are rendering God a service, while, at the same time–witness the example of Paul–they are persecuting the church of Christ (1 Tm 1:13; Phil 3:6).

Crusades were organized using the slogan “It is God’s will.”  Cruel techniques of inquisition, used during the Middle Ages and after, were clothed with the name of God.  Many people have been unrighteously chased out of the church while the name of God was being invoked.  Many have discovered the consequences of resisting ecclesiastical power brokers.  Such resistance has always been dismissed easily with the argument that such people are opposing God.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 85)


The point is, do not use God’s name to support your program.  That is presumptuous.  God has revealed His name in His character; do not use the name to support your plans.  Jam 4:13-15 teaches us that our lives are a vapor; and we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring or whether we can confirm our word or not.  God is not a genie we can summon from a bottle to help us get what we want.  He is Lord!  Ray Stedman says, “God does not intervene in our lives to take sides; He comes to take over, so move over!”  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 102)


In the modern world, the commonest misuse of God’s name is in its trivialized use in blasphemy, in common speech, and in the media.  A secularized society feels free to use the personal names of God and Christ with no concern for who they belong to.  Then there is the equally trivialized use of God’s name in the commercialization of religion, whether by the overt forces of mammon or by the more subtly damaging forces of organized religious empires, the “televangelists” and other latter-day Tetzels with their prosperity gospel and unscrupulous marketing of hopes and promises (Tetzel was the man whose blatant selling of indulgences sparked Luther’s protest, which in turn launched the Reformation.)  By “giving God a bad name”–i.e., by blatantly using God’s name in the interests of their own selfishness, power, or pride–they are in principle breaking the third commandment.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 74)


Another form of blasphemy is committed by those who utilize God and religion in order to gain respect or prestige:  politicians who appear in churches and synagogues, not for the purpose of prayer, but rather to appear religious to their constituents–especially after a particular embarrassing “news flash.”  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 87)


The catechism’s reference to unnecessary oaths reminds us that there are many ways in which either individuals or the community may invoke the name of God as a kind of rubber stamp for one’s words to claim an authority or validity that otherwise would not be present.  One thinks of both religious and political occasions where this is easily and quickly done.  The name of God can be used, but not unnecessarily and not casually.  The preacher or the politician who easily invokes the divine name to ensure consent to deeds or words treads upon this commandment; God will not treat lightly the treating lightly of the name of the Lord.  So, to put it in the positive formulation of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the third commandment “requires the holy and reverent use of God’s name, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works” (Q. 54).  (Patrick D. Miller, Interpretation: Dt, 79)


The Lord is a title; Yahweh is a name.  The commandment does not prohibit its use but its abuse.  Later in this same book, God insisted that oaths be affirmed by using the divine name: “You shall fear [Yahweh] your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name” (Dt 10:20; cp. 6:13).  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 70)


Our commitment to truthfulness, of course, is bound up with our belief in the absolute faithfulness of God.  He means what he says.  With him “there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Jam 1:17).  Heb 6:18 says “. . . it is impossible for God to lie”; and Paul says that God “never lies” (Ti 1:2).  God means what he says, and so must we.  Jesus said that it was unnecessary for us to take oaths.  Instead, he said, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” (Mt 5:38, NIV).  So God’s follower “swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Ps 15:4).  They keep their promises even though they find after making the promise that it will hurt them to keep it.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 180-1)


There are few things more demoralizing to us than people who use God and religion as a co-conspirator to defraud or to manipulate people.  Sometimes it is a clergyperson who is more committed to living the good life or to having power than to truly helping his/her parishioners.  A prominent religious leader some years back publicly stated that God would take his life if a specified amount of donations did not come forth from the audience.  Talk about a marketing ploy!  The money did not come in, and he did not get divinely taken out in the literal sense–but his credibility was destroyed, and along with it went the respect of innumerable followers, some of whom may have, by association, also lost their taste for God.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 76)


The name is misused in sorcery.  Sorcerers invoke the Lord’s name in order to summon His assistance.  They call on the Lord’s name in order to exercise control over Him through an incantation.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 74)


The name is misused in false prophecy.  False prophets declare, “Thus says the Lord,” when in fact they have not been sent by Him (Dt 18:22; 1 Kgs 22:11; Jer 14:15; Ez 13:6).  It is not accidental that this false prophecy is branded or categorized as divination (Jer 29:8-9; Ez 13:9; cf. Ez 21:29).  Prophecy comes with the word of Yahweh; divination comes with its own predictions and becomes false prophecy when it pretends to come in the name of Yahweh.  That, too, is an empty, vain naming of the name Yahweh.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 74-5)


The name is misused in the false oath.  Deceitful words are strengthened by mentioning the name of Yahweh in the oath formula “as truly as the Lord lives” (e.g., Jer 5:2; Zech 5:4).  This turns the name into an instrument in service of the lie.  (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 75)


Oaths taken in the name of a god and then broken were a false use of the “name.”  To swear by a god’s name and then break it was “worthy of death.”  (John H. Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Vol. 1, 452)


IB9-  When our worship is uninspired and heartless.  (Isa 29:13; Ez 33:31; Ps 50:16; Mt 15:8; Mk 7:6) 


“ . . . to handle the things of God without worship is always to falsify them.” (Dallas Willard; Leadership, Spring 1999, 32)


“Without the engagement of the heart, we do not really worship.  The engagement of the heart in worship is the coming alive of the feelings and emotions and affections of the heart.  Where feelings for God are dead, worship is dead.”  (John Piper; Desiring God, 81)


Haphazard and low-quality worship dishonors God’s name.  So does worship that lacks a sincere desire to honor God (this does not apply only to those leading the worship).  Sometimes we see people choosing the hymns for the worship service just before it starts.  Sometimes the leader is choosing the songs while the service is going on!  Sometimes when you hear the preacher rambling, you realize that he has not prepared his message adequately.  Sadly, many people associate church with outmoded, boring, and low-quality programs–this is a great dishonor to God.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 177)


Our worship should, in the literal meaning of the word, be characterized by enthusiasm–which signifies not simply human exuberance but the divine indwelling (en-theos).

Lifeless, meaningless worship will inevitably put off the newcomer who is not yet a believer.  But in the heartfelt worship of a people surrendered to him, God is pleased to dwell in the praises of his people.  (Eddie Gibbs; Church Next, 182-3)


“To call on the name of Yahweh” was a synonym for worship.  But worship could be corrupt, empty, or rendered abominable by association with private or public wickedness.  The name of Yahweh would thus be lifted up in vain (Isa 1:10-17; 29:13).  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 73)


“A bored and unenthusiastic tour guide in the Alps contradicts and dishonors the majesty of the mountains.” (John Piper; The Supremacy of God in Preaching, 53)


And finally, someone has said “None are so unholy as those whose hands are cauterized with holy things”; sacred things may become profane by becoming matters of the job.   (Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy, 103)


IB10-  When our prayers are without zeal and submission.  (Mt 6:5-8; 1 Jn 5:10)


When we pray to him, but do not believe in him.  Faith is a grace that greatly honors God.  Abraham “was strong in faith, giving glory to God” Rom 4:20.  But when we pray to God, but do not mix faith with our prayer, we take his name in vain.  “I may pray,” says a Christian, “but I shall be never the better.”  I question whether God ever hears or answers such.  It is to dishonor God and take his name in vain; it makes him either an idol, that has ears and hears not; or a liar, who promises mercy to the penitent, but will not make good his word.  “He that believeth not God hath made him a liar” 1 Jn 5:10.  When the apostle says (Rom 10:14): “How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” the meaning is, How shall they call on God aright, and not believe in him?  But how many do call on him who do not believe on him!  They ask for pardon, but unbelief whispers their sins are too great to be forgiven.  Thus to pray and not believe, is to take God’s name in vain, and highly dishonors God, as if he were not such a God as the word represents him.  (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 86)


When we pray, we’re saying that everything that we just asked for, we believe in our hearts is the very thing that Jesus would be asking for if He were doing the asking.  Knowing this should alter the way we pray.  We will be more careful about making a list of selfish demands and ending the prayer by muttering, “In Jesus’ name.”  Before I use His name, I need to first ask myself, “Is this what He would be asking for?  Is this what He wants?”  (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 94)


Empty words while praying also come under this category.  We should not mouth words that are considered appropriate for prayer if we do not mean them.  Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play said, “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; words without thoughts never to heaven go.”  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 181)


What are we to learn from the third Commandment?:

II-  God honors us when we honor Him.  (Dt 5:11 see also: Nm 25:13; 1 Sm 2:30; Mk 9:41; Jn 1:12; 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24; 17:11-12; 20:31; Acts 2:21, 28; 3:16; 4:10-12, 30; 10:43; Rom 10:13; Jam 5:14-17)


Isn’t it amazing what practical atheism is revealed by a person who is concerned that he may offend a clergyman, but the same man is not concerned at all about offending the omnipotent God who has commanded him not to take His name in vain.  (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 68)


“Show me the man you honor and I will show you what kind of man you are.  – Thomas Carlyle


What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.  Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.  (A. W. Tozer; The Knowledge of the Holy, 1)


It is a fact that the way we verbally reference another person has a profound effect on how we regard and treat that person.  For example, if I consistently tell my wife that I love her–“Barbara, I love you.  My dear, I love you with all my heart”–I will love her better!  The reason is, of course, that verbalizing my love for her elevates and substantiates my love.  Conversely, if I never verbally say, “I love you” and in fact verbally deride her, my love will be further crippled.  It is similarly true that just imagining I love my wife, even concentrating on thoughts of love, will not elevate my love as much as verbalizing it will.  (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 61)


Speech diagrams the unseen soul.  In this respect the ancient Hebrews viewed words as quasi-material, almost palpable.  This is why they were so careful with what they said.  (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 63)


III-  We will be punished when we misuse God’s name. (Dt 5:11 see also: Num 16:30; Dt 28:58ff; 1 Sm 2:30)  


We are made in God’s image.


Why would God say, “Don’t take My name in vain”?  Because He loves you and me so much.  The problem with most people is that they think they can get by with it because they say anything they want to and “nothing has happened.”  Yet when you read the Scriptures you discover something about sowing and reaping, and it is this:  You never, never reap in the same season you sow.  But God’s Word is true.  And using His name in vain will affect your life.  (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 88)


The law of gravity says that if you step off the roof of a thirty-story building, you will die.  That is not a threat, because a threat has the potential to happen or not to happen.  It is a fact.  And if you take the name of God in vain, it is a fact that God will not hold you guiltless.  But just what does that mean–to not hold us guiltless?  It means that we shall not go unpunished.  (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 69)


God clearly takes the issue of names and naming seriously.  Consider that this, the Third Commandment, is the only one in which there is an immediate threat of punishment (“For the Lord will not absolve anyone who takes His Name in vain,” Ex 20:7).  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 62-3)


This God, unlike all the ancient, pagan gods of such things as wind, rain, and good fortune, is a God of “relationships,” God’s with us, and ours with each other.  Through our relationship with God, we define and bring holiness to our lives and ultimately into all our other relationships.  That which impedes, diminishes, or maligns the process seriously thwarts God’s intent for a holy existence on earth.  Giving God a “bad name” might diminish or demolish people’s belief, respect, and awe for God, a tragedy for a world that needs holiness.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 63)


Though Abimelech did not fear, serve, or cleave to God, he believed Abraham, who did.  That is a major responsibility to represent God, which should not be taken lightly.  Profaning God’s name can elicit cynicism, distrust, or disgust for God.  (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 85)


He knows that it is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks.  It’s a reminder to me that swearing speaks of disorder and turmoil in the heart.  And people who talk like this have no idea of its lethal power.  You find an angry and profane person and I’ll show you one whose life is out of order.  It’s very typical.  They go hand in hand.  God knows how much using His name in vain is going to affect you and me.  (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 93)


If we set our desires on anything other than the true God, we will become like that thing.  Desire that is focused on the right object–the one true God–enables and grows a human being.  Desire set on the wrong thing corrupts and debases us.

If we worship money, in other words, we’ll become a greedy person.

If we worship sex, we’ll become a lustful person.

If we worship power, we’ll become a corrupt person.

If we worship accomplishment, we’ll become a restless, frantic person.

If we worship love and acceptance, we’ll become a slave to others.

If we worship external beauty, we’ll become shallow.

And worshiping anything other than the true God will make us something other than what he created us to be.  (Pete Wilson, Empty Promises, 158)


We Americans tend to individualize God for ourselves by devising our own compact, concise definition of who God is.  I’m quite certain our view is far different from the Christians in Romania or Czechoslovakia.  As John White has written about God:

During the past half century he has in fact been trivialized, packaged for entertainment, presented as a sort of psychological panacea, a heavenly glue to keep happy families together, a celestial slot machine to respond to our whims, a formula for success, a fund raiser for pseudo religious enterprises, a slick phrase for bumper stickers, and a sort of holy pie and ice cream. (Patrick Morley; The Man In The Mirror, 285)


Worship Point:  To know God is to worship God.  It is impossible to worship God and misuse His name at the same time.


It is a mark of spiritual barrenness in the church when people come to worship to fulfill a duty or keep a habit rather than satisfy an appetite.  (Eric Alexander, Truth for Life #65562)


Beloved in Christ, if we truly understand who God is, and who God the Son is, our hair will stand on end at the very thought of abusing His name!  (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 61)


One of the primary applications of this command is in the context of worship.  The word worship comes from the old English weorth-scipe or worthship, which carries the idea of expressing the worthiness of God.  To worship God in a way that does not express his worthiness–his glory–is to take the name of the Lord in vain.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 177)


When you acknowledge the holiness of God, it is impossible to be casual!  When you come to see Him for who He is and what He has done, there is no way in the world you could ever treat Him casually again, and you couldn’t treat His name casually.  Why?  Because you acknowledge the great price that He paid and the great work that He’s done.  (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 95)


To fear God means to be struck with awe in His all-consuming, holy presence; to stand always and forever in breathless exaltation of who He is and what He has done and how vastly and infinitely His greatness overshadows our brief, vaporous existence.  (David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 311)


No worship is wholly pleasing to God until there is nothing in me displeasing to God. (A. W. Tozer; Whatever Happened to Worship?, 125)


My opinion is that how a person uses or misuses God’s name clearly reveals whether or not that person is converted, whether or not a person is a Christian, whether or not a person has been saved and has been born of the Spirit of God and transformed.  Not everyone who doesn’t curse is a Christian, but every obedient Christian does not take God’s name in vain.  (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 73)


“When we believe that we should be satisfied rather than God glorified in our worship; then we put God below ourselves as though He had been made for us rather than that we had been made for Him.”  —Stephan Charnock


We have already shown how happiness is always directed away from the self to the source of joy:  the beautiful view, the beautiful beloved, the beautiful symphony, or the beautiful picture.  That is the nature of joy.  And worship is joy turned backwards towards God—the source of all joy.  For whatever it is that gives one happiness, God is its ultimate source.  It is quite right to express gratitude to the orchestral players and the conductor after a moving performance of a symphony.  A little reflection reminds us that we must feel gratitude to Beethoven too.  And a little further reflection reminds us that we must show gratitude to the God who gave us Beethoven and who made the human brains and skills that conceived and manufactured violins and trumpets.  (Harry Blamires; On Christian Truth, 123)


Jesus warns us that it is possible to engage in what we call worship, only for God to reject it as worship “in vain.”  How is it that we can worship the true God in vain?  Jesus gives two causes.  First, God turns away from worship when the worshiper’s “heart is far away” from him.  Second, he refuses worship when the teaching or doctrines about worship are “the precepts of men,” not the precepts of God.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 309)


Scripture itself condemns worship that is based only on human ideas:  “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men” (Isa 29:13).  This word of God through Isaiah was repeated by Jesus in Mt 15:8-9 and Mk 7:6-7.  Paul in Col 2:23 condemns “self-imposed worship,” worship unauthorized by God.  (John M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth, 39)


Our worship services need to be relevant without being irreverent.  —Juli Yoder


If God is small enough for us to understand, He isn’t big enough for us to worship.


God is not only bigger than you think; God is bigger than you can think.  And if you’ve never stood before God and been totally confused, then you’re worshiping an idol.  — Steve Brown


Three times in the OT we are told to “worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness” (1 Chr 16:29; Ps 29:2; 96:9).  People must get a sense of the greatness of God when they come for worship.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 177)


Practicing God’s presence affects your speech, because you know He’s ever-present.  He’s listening to my every word and my every prayer.  (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 96)


If corporate worship emphasizes emotions, the church begins to look for physical manifestations of God’s work during its services in order to verify that He is blessing us.  If the church emphasizes the intellectual aspect, the power of the Spirit becomes overshadowed by the prowess of human logic.  Services can become lectures surrounded by archaic formality.  If a church dwells exclusively on active response, it may miss the message of God’s sovereign grace.  If none of the facets of God’s character are evident in the service, the church soon becomes a dead organization, bound together only by human loyalties and/or financial obligations.

For a worship service to have vital worship, at least three things are required.  First and most obviously, the Spirit must be working in and through the people of the church.  Second, a preacher is needed who combines meaningful, biblical scholarship, comprehension of the dynamics driving today’s culture, and pastoral insight about contemporary living.  The Word must be persuasively proclaimed and insightfully applied.  Third, the service must be geared to achieving vital worship of the living God.  (Donald J. MacNair; The Practices of a Healthy Church, 94)


Revising worship services to make them more emotional and entertaining can only teach the congregation subjectivity and spiritual hedonism.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,” writes the Apostle Paul, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2).  This text alone is enough to shoot down the argument that the church must change according to prevailing social trends.  “The pattern of this world” is not to determine church ministry.  (Gene Veith; Postmodern Times, 228)


There is no subtler perversion of the Christian Faith than to treat it as a mere means to a worldly end, however admirable that end in itself may be.  The Christian Faith is important because it is true.  What it happens to achieve, in ourselves or in others, is another and, strictly speaking, secondary matter.  For the Christian Faith will remain true whether we who profess it turn into heroic saints or into even more miserable sinners.  We must insist that we worship God because he is God, not because we want something out of him.  What a mean blasphemy it would be, to go through magnificent acts of public worship always with the dominant intention at the back of the mind—“This is really going to make a better chap of me!”  What arrogance and presumption, to treat eternal God, throned in glory, as a visual aid to moral self-improvement. (Harry Blamires; The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think?, 110)


The absence of authority in much contemporary preaching is directly attributable to the absence of confidence in the authority of the Bible.  Once biblical authority is undermined and eroded, preaching becomes a pretense.  The preacher stands to offer religious advice on the basis of the latest secular learning and the “spirituality” of the day.  The dust of death covers thousands of pulpits across the land.

But when the Bible’s authority is recognized and honored, the pulpit stands as a summons to hear and obey the word of God.  True worship takes place when the authority of the Bible is rightly honored and the preaching of the word is understood to be the event whereby God speaks to his people through his word, by the human instrumentality of his servants–the preachers.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 118)


Gospel ApplicationRepent as you recognize your violation of the third commandment.  Look to Jesus who perfectly honors the Father.  We enjoy the righteousness of God by being in Christ.  (2 Cor 5:21)


Much like Isaiah in Isa 6:5 . . .

“The more we encounter the holy God in our worship, the more we will recognize our utter sinfulness and be driven to repentance.  This, too, is an essential part of our praise.”    (Marva Dawn; Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, 90)


“It is a fact, unhappy but undeniable, that repentance nowadays rarely gets mentioned in evangelism, nurture, and pastoral care, even among evangelicals and Christian traditionalists.  The preoccupation of stirring congregational excitement, sustaining believers through rises, finding and honing gifts and skills, providing interest-based programs, and counseling people with relational problems, have displaced it.   As a result, the churches, themselves, orthodox and heterodox together, lack spiritual reality, and their members are all too often superficial people with no hunger for the deep things of God.” (J. I. Packer; Rediscovering Holiness, 144)


God is a Spirit infinitely happy, therefore we must approach Him with cheerfulness; He is a Spirit of infinite majesty, therefore we must come before him with reverence; He is a Spirit infinitely high, therefore we must offer up our sacrifices with the deepest humility; He is a Spirit infinitely holy, therefore we must address Him with purity; He is a Spirit infinitely glorious, we must therefore acknowledge His excellency in all that we do, and in our measures contribute to His glory, by having the highest aims in His worship; He is a spirit infinitely provoked by us, therefore we must offer up our worship in the name of a pacifying Mediator and Intercessor.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 371)


An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give.  Idolatry functions widely inside religious communities when doctrinal truth is elevated to the position of a false god.  This occurs when people rely on the rightness of their doctrine for their standing with God rather than on God himself and his grace.  It is a subtle but deadly mistake.  The sign that you have slipped into this form of self-justification is that you become what the book of Proverbs calls a “scoffer.”  Scoffers always show contempt and disdain for opponents rather than graciousness.  This is a sign that they do not see themselves as sinners saved by grace.  Instead, their trust in the rightness of their views makes them feel superior.  (Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods, 131)


Spiritual Challenge:  We all break the third commandment to one degree or another.  Look at your life.  Then, run to Jesus for a change of heart.


Christianity today is man-centered, not God-centered.  God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men.  The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Savior of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest.  To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable.  This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 27)


Lord, before I bring dishonor to your name . . . kill me.  —Bill Bright


Keeping sight of God, then, is vital to humility, just as keeping in touch with humility is vital to seeing God.  We cannot maintain one without the other.  “Christianity is strange,” Pascal wrote.  “It bids man to recognize that he is vile, and even abominable, and bids him want to be like God.  Without such a counterweight his exaltation would make him horribly vain or his abasement horribly abject.  (Pascal, Pensees)  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 133)


Christianity must reverse its current image and become dynamic, genuine, and real.  If we can prevent the message from being watered down by casual Christians, outsiders will begin to experience believers who have been (and are being) transformed by their faith and who are working in humble and respectful ways to transform the culture.  In the Bible Paul puts it this way:  “This should be your ambition:  to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before.  As a result, people who are not Christians will respect the way you live.” (1 Thess 4:11-12).  There is nothing more powerful than the Christian life lived out in obedience; there is nothing worse than a flat, self-righteous form of faith that parades around in Christian clothes.  (David Kinnaman, Unchristian, 83)


So What?:  We fail to be who God created us to be (righteous, humble and holy) because our hearts fail to understand the Name of the Lord.


A man–I don’t care who he is–dishonors Christ when any other person is put to disadvantage by his piety.  If you imagine you are more free to do slipshod work because you are a Christian, I say, it is precisely the reverse.  It is just because you claim to be the Lord’s that any sort of work will not do.  Bearing His name, you are responsible to Him for every detail of your daily life.  If your secular duties are more imperfectly discharged because you are a believer, you do great wrong to the Redeemer.  If you snatch a little of your employer’s time to scatter tracts, or prepare for a Sabbath class, or even to read your Bible; or if, in business hours, your thoughts are so given to spiritual themes that you cannot do justice to your work, in any of these cases you do real harm to religion.  (Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator, 2 Chronicles, 111)


I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the key for a proper use of God’s name, or steeling ourselves against its misuse, is a proper understanding of God.  If we truly know who God is, we will never come close to abusing His name!  If we could really see God’s eternity (that He is without beginning and end), if we could see His limitlessness (that the entire universe cannot contain Him), if we could see His power (that every throb of power originates from Him), if we could see all this and let it penetrate our souls, we would never come close to misusing His name!  In other words, if we could allow the Scriptures to liberate us from our idolatrous, limited views of God, we would never foul His name, ever!  (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 63)


Being in the image of God means at least that we should image forth God.  We should reflect what he is really like.  And we should do that not to make ourselves look great (as imagers) but to make him look great (as Creator).  People make images of famous people to honor them.  God made man in his own image so that he would be seen and enjoyed and honored through what man does.  (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, 139)


“Willful sin reveals a very bad state or frame of heart.  It indicates that men have lost, in a great measure, the sense of God’s authority and the awe of His judgment, and therefore, such sins are the more heinous and offensive to God.  As Christ explained, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin:  but now they have no cloak for their sin” (Jn 15:22).  The coming in of so much light made their sin inexcusable and took away all pleas and pretenses that they had to excuse or cover it before.”  (Owen Roberts, Sanctify the Congregation, 125)





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