Taking the Name of the Lord
“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.” (Exodus 20:7)
Is the 3rd Commandment of the Ten just a prohibition on using the Lord's name when cursing? We would have to agree that this is certainly included in this commandment. In this “present evil world” (Galatians 1:4), you can hardly go a day without hearing someone using the name of Jesus Christ, or God as an expression of anger or frustration. For some it is so engrained in their vocabulary that it is near impossible to even speak a sentence without being foul mouthed. And it is a strange phenomenon, that none of the other gods or false prophets of this world ever have their name used in such a derogatory way.
It would also include swearing falsely by His name or profaning His name (Leviticus 19:12). It would also include blaspheming His Name (Leviticus 24:16; James 2:7). But we think it goes far beyond using the name of the Lord in such manners. We would say it has an equal if not greater meaning as to how we live our life. And not so much how those who never heard the gospel behave, but those who under the guise of Christianity take to themselves the name of the Lord. That is, those who would identify with the Lord Jesus Christ and God our Creator.
It is like a man and a woman when they make their vows in marriage. The bride takes to herself the last name of her husband. This is how it was in days of old when a man and woman were united together in marriage, the bride would be “called by thy name” (Isaiah 4:1). This signifying that they are now one and that she is committed to him and he to her. They no longer go out into the world seeking another mate. To carry out such lewd actions would be adultery and grounds for divorce, and in so doing would have taken her spouses name in vain.
“I, (name), take thee, (name), to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”In fact, the 3rd Commandment is likely where the idea came from “taking” their spouse for their husband or wife. This was a lifelong commitment. One man for one woman for life. Not only do they now both go by the same name, they are so intimately joined that they are now considered “one flesh” and “one body” (Ephesians 5:30-31), just like Christ and the church. They are really no longer two individuals going about doing their own will, but one unit (1 Corinthians 7:4).
The man is to love, honor, and protect, nurture and care for his wife as his own body (Ephesians 5:28, 33), and she to reverence and submit to her husband in return, even as the Church is to revere and obey Christ, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:15).
This is what marriage is in the eyes of the Lord and is supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). But today, by the growing rate of divorce, even among “Christians”, it appears that many have given little thought or consideration to their vows and marriage covenant before God. And that beautiful picture of Christ and the church is polluted. The apostle Paul said to the church at Corinth, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
Sara called her husband Abraham “lord” (1 Peter 3:5-6; Genesis 18:12). On the Day of Judgment, many will come to Jesus saying “Lord, Lord”. On that day we will find that many who have called Jesus Lord, that He will confess to them, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21-23), they were never part of His body. There was no real espousal, rather they were “counterfeits” (Galatians 2:4, Jude 1:4). They will not be found guiltless who have taken His name in vain. In fact, they will find their part in the Lake of Fire where they will find everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (Matthew 25:14-30; 25:31-46).
In Matthew 25, although these were called servants, and were confessing that Jesus Christ was Lord, like Judas, they were imposters and are gone “to his own place” (Acts 1:25). They were “not found guiltless”.
If one would take to themself the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and would think to identify themselves with Christianity, and not obey Christ, to walk in His holy statutes and commands, but rather make their friendship with the world (James 4:4), yoke together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14), spend their time walking in the ways of darkness of this world (Ephesians 5:11; 1 John 1:6; Galatians 5:19-21), doting about the cares of this world (Mark 4:19), are they not taking the name of the LORD thy God in vain? They will not be found guiltless.
It has been said, that many reserve one hour on Sunday for “church” but the rest of the week, they drag the Lord's name through the mud. The apostle Paul wrote the church at Philippi saying, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). If they would be called by Christ, their behaviour and all manner of conversation should be to honor their Lord.
Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19) The Lord knows them that are His. They are His sheep and they know and follow Him. Amidst all the noise of the world around them, they hear and know His familiar voice, and another they will not follow (John 10:1-18). Now it is not impossible for a sheep to go astray because sheep are dumb, but because He is the Good Shepherd, He goes out and looks for the sheep until He finds him and brings him back into the fold (Matthew 18:11-14).
But for the most part the sheep are responsive to the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21-25). Jesus said, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:50) Yet many today have taken the name of the Lord. They say they are Christians, they go to church, etc., but they live like the Devil. They are in fact misrepresenting and defaming Him. The Lord says He “will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain”.
Jesus asked the question of some of those who would follow Him saying, “why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) James says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22) And the Scriptures indicate that self deception will only increase in the “last days” (2 Timothy 3:1, 13). Jesus said, “Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near” (Luke 21:8). So in the last days, there will be counterfeits a plenty who come in the name of the Lord. In their little circle, it may be the popular thing to do, but it is for all the wrong reasons.
On the Day of Judgment Jesus says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Many will be found to have taken the Lord's name in vain. While they may think they are doing a great work in His name, when He whose eyes are as a “flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14; 2:18) makes manifest their nakedness (Hebrews 4:13), they will not be found guiltless.
The Lord desires for us to be set apart for Him, and that we should depart from iniquity. Paul said, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7) Walking in a manner that honors not the Lord is a characteristic of them “which know not God” of whom “the Lord is the avenger of all such”. They will not be found guiltless.
The Lord says to His saints, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16) If we were already walking in a manner that is holy unto the Lord He would not have to remind us to be holy. This is why there is so much in the Bible that tells us how we ought to walk and talk, how we ought to act and behave in deed and word. What we ought to do, and from what we should abstain. We need these instructions because we are sinners. No man can tame the tongue, but we can bridle it. The lust of the flesh can be overpowering at times, and so we are called to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Here is just one sample of instructions on how the church ought to conduct themselves in this world:
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:1-20)As Christians we are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, rather, “reprove them”. We are to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) We are to “be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” (2 Peter 3:14) We need always to be on guard lest we also, “being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” (2 Peter 3:17)
We must also always to be sensitive to the fact and remember that “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). When one believes the gospel, we are born again (1 Peter 1:23-25), and the Spirit of Christ takes up residence in us (Romans 8:9). Our body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He now begins a work “in you”, rather than working from without. Now that we are “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8), He begins in us His work of “sanctification” (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
If after many years of being a “Christian” and we continue to walk in darkness, we should not deceive ourselves. We should sincerely question whether our conversion was sincere or real, and to “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Do not slander the name of the Lord, do not misrepresent or defame Christ. This has done more harm to the cause of Christ, and to turn people away from Christ and blaspheme His holy name than we know. “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.” (Exodus 20:7)
The question now stands, have you or I ever taken the name of the LORD thy God in vain? If so, we shall be held to account. We shall not be found guiltless. Do not take this lightly for we are told, that under the Law, “every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward” (Hebrews 2:2). Oh that the world would know and understand that they will not be found guiltless. If this does not make you tremble, if you have become complacent in your life and walk, you need to repent.
When a man stands before the righteous throne of the universe, and be found a liar or a thief, it will do him no good to bring up, what, in his own mind are pleasant attributes of himself. The Law has found you guilty, and the Law demands justice and is there to convict you. Do not be deceived, it will meet out the exact price for every transgression.
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20) Some may think that they keep some of the Law most of the time and that it ought to count for something. But you do not get any bonus points for keeping the Law. It is what you are required to do, and there is no merit for doing what you are supposed to, other than, there is no punishment when you keep it. It is like a murdering thief saying, I have only commit murder this one time. All the good that I have done ought to count for something. But that is not how the Law works. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)
Yet, within the Law we can find that the Lord is gracious and merciful. “The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6-7). Yes, there is an abundance of grace and mercy with the Lord, but we must understand, the guilty, by no means, can be cleared. That would be unjust.
God does not clear the guilty, but satisfied the just demands of the Law, when He sent His only begotten Son into the world to pay the penalty for sin in our place. He was made sin for us who knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He took upon Himself the sin of the whole world and God has made a way to transfer the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the guilty sinner.
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:19-26)Jesus Christ died for our sins, and He rose again from the dead for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This is the gospel of our salvation. We can now be forgiven and set free from the demands of the Law if we will repent, that is, change our mind toward God and put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are wonderfully told, “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:15-18)
Condemnation comes not so much by breaking the Law, but by refusing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and His gospel. The “law is a light” (Proverbs 6:23), His Word is a “Lamp unto our feet” (Psalm 119:105). The Law was to show us we cannot come to God by keeping the Law because we are all transgressors. It was to show us there must be some other way, and there is. The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:22-26).
The Law reveals that we have been treading down the path to destruction. It exposes our true nature as sinners. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21)
When the first man committed the first sin, he hid from Him who was the Light of the world. But God sought him out and found him naked and ashamed, even Adam. He come out of hiding and admitted he was naked (Genesis 3:8-10) and God clothed him with the skins of a lamb.
The whole world was in Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22), and because of Adam's sin, we are all sinners by nature and deed (Romans 5:12-21). We were all by nature children of wrath and disobedience (Ephesians 2:2-3), in fact, we were “darkness” (Ephesians 5:8). But despite our sinfulness, God so loves the whole world. He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). He is calling all people and nations to come to Him (Isaiah 45:22, Matthew 11:28). He has sent His Spirit into the world to reprove it of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). The whole of humanity will be found “without excuse” (Romans 1:20), for there is not a creature to whom God has not made Himself “manifest” (Romans 1:19). He has shone His Law in the hearts of all men (Romans 2:14-16) that they might see that they are sinners in need of a Saviour and so come to Him for pardon and cleansing of sin.
We need to acknowledge our sin and be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God is calling out to the whole world, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4), but He leaves the response to you (John 1:10-12).
If you are still not sure of your salvation, read the Scripture portions of this article over and over, and I can guarantee you, the Light of God's Word will expel the darkness.