This morning we continued our series-within-a-series, pausing on the Ten Commandments to really drill down into each one. As always, the sermon is available in the media section of the website.
Today we tackled the Third Commandment:
“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.”
The text of the verse can be taken in multiple ways. Three possible re-phrasings of the prohibitions would be:
- Don’t receive to yourself the Name of the Lord in a way empty of meaning.
- Don’t bear the name of God in futility.
- Don’t use God’s name in an empty, trivial or worthless way.
The Name of the LORD is something we’ve discussed much in our time in Exodus. What’s clear from the Scriptures is that the Name of God is inseparable from God Himself. In the Psalms we frquently read of, for example, giving thanks to God’s Name (54:6), singing praises to it (92:1), and blessing it (96:2). So, what we do with God’s Name is what we do with God Himself.
Jesus, The Name of God
We reviewed the text of Matthew 1:20-25 and made some discoveries:
Matthew 1:20–25 (ESV)
20 … an angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
We notice how the Son to be born will bear two names:
- Jesus, which derives from the Hebrew name Jehoshua (Joshua) and means “The LORD’s Salvation”
- Immanuel, which means “God with us”
Jesus is “The LORD’s Salvation”, and He is God incarnate. In John 17:6 He declares that He has manifested God’s name – meaning, He has made it visible. We can’t escape the reality that Jesus Christ was declared to be – and claimed to be – God Himself.
Needless to say, this has implications! There are two key ones for us:
Trust in the Name of Jesus for Salvation
Peter declared in Acts 4:12, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” There is no other foundation. Jesus’ very name means that He is The LORD’s Salvation, and if we don’t have Him, we don’t have salvation. We can’t clean ourselves up or make ourselves fit; we come to The LORD’s Salvation as we are, and receive the free gift He freely offers.
Reflect the Name you bear
Because God’s Name represents Him, He is zealous to protect His Holy Name. He is not prepared to be made a mockery for long! Just as Jesus Himself cleansed the Temple in John 2:15ff, He wants to cleanse His Temple today (see 1 Cor 3:16) of unrighteousness. In 1 Timothy 6:1, Paul comments how our good conduct ensures “that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.” How we act as Christians, bearers of the name of Christ, matters. Either it brings God glory and honour, or it brings disrepute and shame.
Paul has a phrase he’s fond of, using it three times in his epistles. It’s “walk in a manner worthy.” Worthy of our calling in Ephesians 4:1, worthy of God in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, and worthy of the Lord in Colossians 1:10. So we need to pause and consider:
- Does my manner of life and conduct properly reflect my God?
- Does my worship reflect the joy of one destined for eternal bliss and contentment?
- Does my work represent one who is rendering service to the Lord Christ?
Let us not bear the Name of Christ in vain! Let us trust Him fully for our salvation, and let us seek to conduct ourselves as He would have us to, fully reliant upon His Holy Spirit to do so.