Today, the theme is the third
commandment, er…rather *’saying’ according to …well, let’s not even go in that direction.
The third commandment is ‘Thou shalt not take the Lord’s Name in vain.’ Seems easy enough, or so I really thought as a kid. Just don’t say GD or ‘Oh my ____’ or a number of other things. *Don’t even say ‘gosh’ or ‘darn’ if you’re OPC.
Not so fast my friend. That is the tip of the iceberg for this commandment. Of course, you shouldn’t say these things and of course, if you’re ever in a courtroom setting and you swear on the Bible, it had better be the truth. But, there’s something more serious than this.
This name thing. There’s something to it. We take the Name of the Lord in our baptism and we take the Name of the Lord when a pastor says the benediction over us. God is everywhere but these two particulars are moments of heightened awareness of carrying this great name as a believer and follower of Yahweh.
Follow me for a second to the logical reality of this, and this comes by way of Dr. Mark Ross. Taking the name of God in vain, in it’s broader context means, living in a way contrary to that Name we have taken on. When we take upon the Name of God, as in our baptism, or having the benediction said over us, He owns us in a real way. And when we live in ways that run contrary to the character or nature of God, we then evacuate the Name of it’s content before an onlooking world. It is as if we hold the Name up-and then take all the meaning out of it and declare with our actions, ‘This is the nature and character of God.’
The Name gets emptied of it’s meaning every time we tell a lie, every time we have a momentary slip into some gross sin, overtime we act out of anger…you get the point. So this post is sort of two fold, 1. Faithful Christian living outwardly displays the 3rd commandment and 2. There is grace for when we do act in ways contrary to the true Nature of the God from whom we have taken His Name.
Next time you’re tempted in some area, remember…will I be taking the Lord’s Name in vain by this action?
* after reading some Vos, I was actually humbled by his statements about the whole gosh and darn thing. Here’s his commentary to part of the third commandment; and sorry, it’s pretty long- but good and worthy of our attention.
In addition to the actual names of God, what forms of his self-revelation are we forbidden to misuse or take in vain?
titles, attributes, ordinances, and works: that is, Any form in which God has revealed his nature and character. Many people Who do not dare to take the actual name ‘God’ in vain continue in virtually the same sin by abusing God’s titles and works, misused by such profane expressions as Holy Smoke!, a flippant reference to the smoke of incense burned in the temple services, “Jerusalem! ‘ (a profane use of the name of the city where God’s presence among His covenant people was especially revealed, “Good grief!” apparently a careless and irreverent reference to Christ’s sufferings in Gethsemane and on the cross. Some of these abuses are so common that even Christian people use them without realizing what they are doing. We should realize that all these are similar expressions are violations of the third conunandnient, and displeasing to God.
Johannes Geerhardus Vos. Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary (Kindle Locations 4084-4090). Kindle Edition.