Updated: Oct 16, 2021
Some months ago I listened to a sermon that largely focused on what is commonly know as the 3d Commandment; Exodus 20:7, which reads:
"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."
The pastor asserted that this verse was very often misinterpreted and misapplied; I agree. The pastor also quite correctly pointed out that the word for "take" in the original Hebrew; phonetically pronounced "naw-saw" has nothing directly to do with speaking; it has much to do with putting on and carrying; much as when my wife took my name when we got married, or when I take a gift or a responsibility.
Most people think of this verse as meaning that we are commanded to refrain from using [speaking] God's name cheaply, or "commonly," or something to that effect; using such well known phrases as "O.M.G." or "G.D. it!" Please understand that in no way am I advocating that the use of these phrases by Christians, or anyone else (neither did the pastor), is not OK, not in the least. Such language is very unbecoming of a Christian.
In a nutshell, the pastor rightly advocated that Christians; people who bear the name of God, should not bear His name improperly. In other words, if you are a Christian, act like a Christian. I fully concur.
I think that this needs to be taken further, however. First off, we need to clarify the definition of a Christian that will be used in this post. This author recognizes that people who have truly believed on; FULLY put their trust in the FINISHED work of Christ PLUS NOTHING ELSE WHATSOEVER, in any way, shape, or form, are Christians; they have been been born again (John 3), and that second birth that they now have is sinless, because if is born of God (1 John 3:9), not of the sinful flesh. Anyone who claims to be a Christian and has not truly put their trust in Christ is bearing the Lord's name in vain [uselessly]; blatantly disobeying the 3d commandment, no matter how religious [even famously] they may be, no matter how "good" they may be, no matter how many church rituals and sacraments they may have completed, etc. They indeed are superficially bearing God's name, yet it is very much in vain. Whatever belief system, etc. that they have that they may deem as being their faith, has ZERO power to save; they are living out a lie; a faith that is in vain; it will ultimately result in the judgement of the unbeliever (Revelation 20:11-15); they have broken God's Law here, and of course everywhere else (James 2:10).
A verse that I have used in many writings that I have posted on this site; Galatians 5:16, applies yet again here too. The people described in the paragraph above do not have the Spirit to walk in, as does the true believer, who is sealed with the Holy Spirit when he/she truly believes the Gospel (Ephesians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4); the people in the paragraph above never truly have trusted in Christ and have thus never truly believed the Gospel. Neither has anyone else of any other religion (yes, we all have a religion, even [especially] atheists) that has not trusted in Christ and been born again. We as believers have; as in presently possess eternal life, which cannot be lost (John 3:16, 6:47, Romans 11:29). Only we as believers have been adopted into God's family (Romans 8:214-17). As members of His family and the future Bride of Christ, we share His name; much as (actually to a much greater extent than) my wife and my children bear my last name as members of my family. Being bearers of; having taken His name, we are to take/bear it in such a way that honors Him and bears fruit; the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). This is what happens when we walk in the Spirit. Of course there is no bering of the fruit of the Spirit without the Spirit to walk in; just as there is no bearing apples without an apple tree. There can be things that look like apples made without apple trees; just as non-christians can produce "fruit" [behavior] that may look like the fruit of the Spirit, yet at the core is much different. The fruit that comes from the Spirit is flawless, however (1 John 3:9), and fruit that comes from elsewhere is tainted and unacceptable to God (James 2:10, Isiah 64:6).
Without the new birth, you are guilty before God, and as the text says, He will not hold you guiltless. When you have been born again, He has removed your sins and does indeed hold you guiltless because of your sinless; your guiltless second birth (1 John 3:9).
Please see my post from a few months ago entitled "Worship, What is it...". Anything that is done outside of that context; true worship of God, I believe is a violation of the 3d commandment...as well as the rest of them.
Believe in Christ; believe the Gospel, then, and only then do you have the Spirit to walk in. Now choose to walk in the Spirit (something of course only the believer can do). Do this and you are taking God's name as He would have you take it. This will most certainly NOT be in vain. God bless.
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