Monday, July 30, 2012

Decalogue: Third Command

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7 ESV)

Traditionally taking God’s name in vain has been understood of using God’s name in profanity, which is certainly one of the grosser examples of this sin, however, we wish to focus our attention on something a bit closer to home.

Remember what we have said in all the previous posts about the preface to the Decalogue being the grid or framework through which we are to understand it. Undoubtedly, God’s wrath is justly kindled against the reprobate who use God’s name as a cuss word. But it was not to the Hittites or Philistines that the Decalogue was given, rather to God’s covenant people. Therefore, we are lead to believe that, as far as believers are concerned, there is something else in view in this Command.

The second half of the answer to Question 99 of the Heidelberg Catechism strikes it on the head. It says, that this command requires that we, “use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence; so that He may be rightly confessed and worshipped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.” Interestingly, the Scripture proofs provided by the Catechism for this statement generally have to do with two things (1) reverent reference to God, and (2) not giving those outside the faith a reason to blaspheme God’s name. it would seem that these two things are intertwined. (cf. Ps.50:15; 1 Tim.2:8; Rom.2:24; 1 Tim.6:1; Col.3:16, 17)

Think for a moment of the treatment the majesty of God gets at the hand of the huckster televangelists. More respect is given to the family dog than to God by these men. God’s name and power are nothing more than a prop or gimmick for these men. Men the likes of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Paul Crouch and the whole host of heretics darkening the airwaves on TBN have made a mockery of God by equating God and mammon in the public mind. These fraudulent ‘ministers’ squawk and cry for more money to ‘support this ministry’ and we all know that the money goes to keep up their lavish and garish lifestyles. This nonsense is so rampant that, to borrow a phrase from Poe, it would be supererogation to demonstrate.

My ire is definitely raised by villainous heathens like Bill Maher when they blaspheme my Lord and Savior. But my ire is more definitely raised at the used car salesmen that pass for preachers on so-called Christian TV. God’s name is mocked by atheists because it is mocked by shyster televangelists when they make Christianity a get-rich-quick scheme.

Much of “Evangelicalism,” lives in perpetual violation of this Command. God’s name is taken in vain by Joel Osteen when he makes the fulfilling of your dreams God’s sole purpose for existing. God’s name is taken in vain by liberal denominations that reinterpret Scripture to suit the vile and corrupt cultural whims of our degenerate society. God’s name is taken in vain by those who wish to make man and his feeble will the deciding factor in salvation.

God’s right to demand reverence for His name is based upon His sovereignty and majesty, but in the context of the Decalogue, it is based upon His covenantal right over His people. This is especially interesting when one remembers what we said at the outset: The Decalogue was given to God’s people. Bear that fact in mind when considering this fact: God considers the profaning of His name so heinous a sin that His wrath is kindled, not only against those who take His name in vain, but also against who do not endeavor to prevent such treatment of God’s name. The Heidelberg Catechism reminds us that God commanded this sin to be punished with death! (cf. Prov.29:24; Lev.5:1; Lev.24:15, 16)

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