February 18, 2016
Q & A:
Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain
Question: What does it mean to take the name of the Lord thy God in vain??
The question was asked in a private e-message, and while the question could be answered in a private response, the question applies to all who believe God and by their belief/faith, strive to keep the Commandments, thereby walking in this world as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6; 1 Cor 11:1) … why would a person, free to keep the Commandments or not, consciously strive to not walk in this world as Jesus the Christ walked yet still identify him or herself as a “Christian”?
Getting personal for a moment: will you call yourself a Christian, a disciple of Christ Jesus, and walk in this world as a Gentile? Will you identify yourself as a disciple of Christ Jesus but not strive to imitate Christ Jesus as Paul imitated Christ Jesus, with Paul saying,
I urge you, then, be imitators of me. (1 Cor 4:16)
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1 Cor 11:1)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children (Eph 5:1)
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. (Phil 3:17).
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord … (1 Thess 1:6).
For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea (1 Thess 2:14).
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:7–8)
If Jesus Christ is the same today, having had the glory He had before the foundation of the kosmos were laid, as He was when He walked the roads of ancient Judea; if the man Jesus lived as an observant Judean, keeping the Commandments; if this same unchanging Jesus dwells in the human person in the form of His spirit [pneuma Christou] having entered into the spirit of the person [to pneuma tou ’anthropou], then it is not possible for the person genuinely born of spirit as a son of God to not outwardly keep the Commandments while inwardly striving with heart and mind to do good to all people.
The person who claims to be a Christian; who claims to walk in this world as Jesus walked, but who doesn’t keep the Commandments takes Christ’s name in vain … by claiming to be a Christian, the person takes unto him or herself the responsibility to walk in this world as Jesus walked—and again, Jesus walked as an observant Jew..
The Third Commandments simply states, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes Hs name in vain” (Deut 5:11) … if a person swears an oath on the Lord but doesn’t perform what the person swore to do, the person has taken the name of the Lord in vain. If a person signs a contract while representing him or herself as a Christian then doesn’t deliver on the contract, the person mocks Christ and takes His name in vain—if a Christian mocks Christ in any way, the person takes the Lord’s name in vain. If a Christian swears without giving due consideration to what the Christian swears, the Christian mocks Christ and takes His name in vain. Simple blasphemy by a Christian is a mocking of Christ. And any form of thoughtlessly uttered words amounts to mocking Christ.
The Christian who, after having attended Christian religious worship services Sunday morning, mis-hits a golf ball Sunday afternoon and utters a profane expression that includes “God” or “Jesus Christ” when the ball lands in a water hazard does no more damage to the Third Commandment than when the person sat in a pew that morning, listening to a pastor deliver the word of God to parishioners..
Taking the name of the YHWH in vain has much less to do with what the mouth utters than with what the hand and the body does, which isn’t permission to express vulgarities with the mouth; for what comes from the mouth reveals what is in the heart, be it false flattery or vile rants or sincere praise.
So what constitutes taking the Lord’s name in vain? How about denying that the Beloved, who entered His creation as His unique Son, wasn’t the God of Abraham; that God the Father was the God of Abraham. Is this not a denial of Christ Jesus? It is. Thus, the Christian who is either Arian or Trinitarian denies that the Beloved was the God of Abraham mocks Christ Jesus and thereby—by claiming to be a “Christian”—takes the name of the Lord [YaHd˜nWaiH] in vain.
The question has an obvious answer, and an equally abvious non-answer: Gentiles are non-Israelites and are not under the Law (Gentiles cannot take the name of the Lord in vain for they do not know the Lord so that they can intentionally blasphemy Him). This now introduces “intent”: because physical Gentiles are not circumcised in the flesh and make no claim to being of God, they are judged by God, not by those who have standing in the Church, with Paul having written,
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." (1 Cor 5:9–13)
Because the Gentile has no standing before God except as a “Gentile,” the Christian who does not keep the Commandments is a spiritual Gentile, and thereby has no relationship with God, but will be judged by the Lord according to the criterion expressed by Paul: “All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” (Rom 2:12–13). … The Christian who is not under the Law will not be judged by the Law but will, nevertheless, perish for having transgressed the Law; for this Christian—by virtue of claiming to be “Christian”—knows the will of God, but because of unbelief, refuses to do what this Christian really knows is right.
God in the form of the Son will judge those who are of the world, but those who are inside the Church will judge those persons who claim to be “Christian.” And this hasn’t been said before, but this is what Paul said in the context of judging angels:
Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! (1 Cor 6:2–3)
If you, as a born of spirit son of God are going to judge angels as well as judge the world, you, Christian, cannot rant against Roman Catholics or Latter Day Saints or any other denomination in particular. You can condemn lawlessness, or apparent unbelief as in the Sacred Names Heresy. But beyond that—beyond marking a particular individual as a person to be shunned—you as a Christian have no right to say anything for you are likely to be the Christian’s judge. And judges are not to comment about a case, a transgressor, before hearing the matter.
* * *
"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."