3rd Commandment: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7)
NASB says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…”
It is important to note that LORD is the translation of God’s proper name YHWH. (pronounced “Yahweh”). The second translation makes a little clearer what this command means. We have actually been given the name of the LORD, as His chosen people. He is our unique, all-powerful, supreme, Creator God, and He has expectations for His creation. What is the significance of this?
God’s correction given through the prophet Isaiah is a clear example:
Isaiah 43:1-7. “I have called you by name: you are Mine!” Not only have we been created by Him, but also, just as He did for Jacob—>Israel, He is forming us for His glory (vs. 7). We have been given a new name—a new identity—by the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sadly, the nation of Israel largely did not treasure this. Vss. 22-24—they “became weary of [Him].”
Jesus’ exhortation: Mark 8:34-38, “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
—To deny self and carry one’s cross means submitting my whole self—mind, body, spirit—to the Lord Himself. Therefore, instead of being ashamed, boldly proclaim the gospel and share God’s word in this “adulterous and sinful generation” which so desperately needs Him! His glory is the ultimate goal—the most exciting thing to me should be when previous unbelievers turn to the LORD and glorify His name. I can’t call myself a Christian and not carry out this mission—that would be taking the Lord’s name in vain!
James’ exhortation: James 1:26-27, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” The only opinion and viewpoint/sight which should matter to me is that of my Heavenly Father. Some people talk a good talk, but have no actions to back it up--stay unstained by the world, caring about those who can’t repay. Only one secure in their identity as a child of God can do this. Letting myself be corrupted by the world is taking God’s name in vain.
Paul’s exhortation: Philippians 1:27—2:4, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” As a Christian, I am a steward of the gospel of Christ—having taken on His identity. Now, to not take this name in vain, some things are expected. Don’t be alarmed at opposition/suffering/conflict. Be unified with other believers in mind and spirit, experiencing fellowship with God Himself through the Spirit, evidenced by our love for one another. Other people should be more important to me than my own interests.
How seriously do I take my identity as a child of GOD? Is all this true of my life right now?
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!