Thursday, September 9, 2010

You Shall Not...

What does it mean to take the Lord's name in vain?

C Michael Patton offers some interesting thoughts on his blog Parchment and Pen.

Essentially he concludes that...

God was attempting to prevent the Israelites from doing the same thing. God was saying for them not to use His name like the nations used the names of their gods. He did not want them to use His name to invoke false authority behind pronouncements. In essence, God did not want the Israelites to say that He said something that He had not said. This makes sense. God has a reputation to protect. He does not want anyone saying “Thus sayeth the Lord” if the Lord had not spoken. All of you have experienced this. You have had people say you said something you did not say. This can be very damaging to your character. It is very destructive to your name. Why? Because it makes you out to be something that you are not. How much more important is it for God to protect His character? It is fitting that God would have put this as one of the ten most important commandments as the nation of Israel moved towards Canaan. It is his name (i.e. reputation) that is at stake.

What does this mean for us? Well, for starters we understand that the third commandment is not focused on something so trivial as saying “God damn it!” The funny thing is that while some people may never think of using that phrase, people all over the Christian religious landscape are breaking the third commandment every day, damaging the Lord’s reputation. “Thus sayeth the Lord . . .” “God told me to tell you . . .” “God says that if you send in this much money, you will be blessed.” I could go on and on, but you get the point. Using the name of the Lord in vain, I believe, means that you do damage to His reputation and character through false and unsure claims.

Therefore, think deeply before you say “God said . . .” Make sure that He has really said it. Don’t be flippant by trying to encourage a friend and say, “God is telling you . . .” If you are unsure, make your statement reflect your uncertainty. Saying “I think God is telling you to . . .” rather than “God is telling you to . . .” may not be as authoritative, but it will keep God’s reputation safe and keep you from breaking the third commandment.

I visit his blog occasionally and from time to time really appreciate his thoughts and insights

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