God’s will for His Children is found in the Law. And Jesus made it personal. Jesus showed that God’s Law is not to be followed out of ritual/religion. Instead, He showed that obedience is to come out of love – a response to God’s grace and love.
And God wants us to remember: commands are not options. They aren’t called the 10 Options; but honestly, we make them optional. And as we have learned, if you want God’s blessing, you want God’s protection, you want God’s security, you have to LIVE within His will, His circle of security, called the 10 Commandments.
And as I have said before, if I look at this series on the 10 Commandments as a history teaching I will miss out on its powerful words and the refining change it will and can bring.
I’ve said this before in my mind back in the day, and I’m shamed to admit it, “Man, I wish such and such had heard today’s message given by the pastor. If only he/she could have been here to hear this, then God would have convicted and brought about the change needed in his/her life.” Yet, even though that thought may have been true, I feel shamed to admit it because I missed out on what God had in store for me in that message. My thinking was self-righteous because I assumed that the message was not for me – that I was good and needed not change. So don’t do as I have done. Don’t feel the shame that I have felt. Each message is not for somebody else. It’s for me. It’s for you.
And so far, God has asked us to look at whether we have any other gods in our lives and have used idols to represent them. And in our culture, these gods and idols don’t usually come in the form of an object – they come in the form of an attitude, thought, or wants and desires. When we the give power and authority to some thing or someone else that rightfully belongs to the One True God, we create a modern day idol or god. And often the biggest idol or god in our culture can be seen everyday in the mirror – it is called Self.
So God calls us to hear his convictions and to repent so that we might be restored into His circle of safety, security, and prosperity. And if we decide to step outside the bounds of this circle, we will find we are on our own. We will find that we are left vulnerable to all kinds of attacks from the Dog, Satan. If we want God’s favor and prosperity, you and I must deny ourselves and pick up Jesus’ cross and follow Him.
Today, God gives us His 3rd Will – His 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.
Or in other words: You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.
So what does this command mean, and how does it apply to you and me? How can we misuse the name of the Lord? How can we take His name in vain?
When I act in vain I am concerned about one and one thing only. Do you know what that is? Myself.
And when I use the Lord’s name in vain, I misuse God’s name for my own benefit and solution. I don’t care about God. I care solely on how God can get me out of the mess I’m in or how He will bless me. That’s vanity.
There are passages in Leviticus and Matthew that show how we can take the Lord’s name in vain.
Leviticus 19: 12 – “Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.”
And in Matthew 5: 33-37, Jesus said let your “yes be yes” and your “no be no”.
Do you know why He said it? It’s because when we swear by something greater than ourselves we are really saying the words we use have no authority – they can’t be trusted. Jesus wanted us to see that we don’t need to swear; our word alone – our character – should be good enough.
But He also wanted us to see why making an oath is a bad deal. He was saying, my paraphrase, “Don’t swear (make a promise) on God’s name because you won’t live up to it. You will break the promise and thus take the Lord’s name in vain.”
And God says, “This is not my will – to have man misuse my name. After all, who is man to misuse my Holy name? Who is man, my creation, to misrepresent Me to the public I am trying to save? Who is man to think that I was created for him, when it was I who created him for Me?”
God also speaks through the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 7: 9-11 – “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe” – safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.”
This passage shows how man thinks that he can be outside the will of God, not obey God’s commands, and then vainly say, “I am good (safe and secure) because I believe in God. I even believe in His Son, Jesus.” But God wants me to see through this passage that taking His name in vain, misusing His name, is not merely some words such as exclaiming “Oh, my God”, which Christians think we can write or say “OMG” and not break the commandment, or cursing, “Jesus Christ”, or “God damn it”.
No, taking His name in vain is really shown through my actions. Taking God’s name in vain is knowing what I am to do and not doing it, yet still feeling vainly confident that I am in the will of God and have his blessing.
The Israelites were exposed for their sins (those 10 Commandments that they were blatantly breaking), yet in their mind, they were doing nothing wrong – they had God, they had the temple, they had the Ark of the Covenant. They felt safe, not because they were within God’s will through their obedience, but simply because they were vainly saying, “We are God’s chosen people.”
So every time I publicly say that I am a follower of Jesus, but don’t live under His authority, I am taking the Lord’s name in vain. When I choose to live as I desire to live, when I am my own authority yet still claim the name and blood of Jesus as my salvation, I am expressing vanity in its worse form.
And so I have to make a choice today, am I going to represent or misrepresent the God who saves me? Am I going bask in His grace and love only in word and feeling? Or am I going to show His grace and love through my actions?
Taking the name of the Lord in vain is more than words. It’s how I live under this name. And if I’m going to claim the name of Jesus for my salvation and the salvation of others, but disobey God’s will, I am misusing or taking His name in vain.