Summary: As the bride of Christ we take His name, we bare His name. Are we living our lives in vanity, poorly reflecting His name? Or are we allowing our lives to glorify His name?
(Exodus 20:7 NASB) "7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain."
This is one of the Ten Commandments I have misunderstood more than any other in the 17 years I have known the Lord: Don't take the Lord's name in vain. I thought this commandment had a very specific and limited application. Basically it boils down to not saying, "Oh, my God!" when you are shocked or excited. It means not saying, "Jesus Christ!" when someone cuts you off in traffic.
But this commandment is about far more than how you use God's name as a vocabulary word - it's about how you take His name as a way of life.
How many of you remember the 3 steps to determine who we really are?
1. Dig deep
2. Ask the tough questions
3. Allow God to define you
In other words, do you live according to who He is? A couple weeks ago we were reminded that He is the great I Am; that He is everything we need. He is exactly what you and I need at any specific moment. He is more than enough.
So I got to ask, “Does your life reflect His identity?” The moment you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ you took on His identity. You chose no longer to identify with yourself, with your ways, or even with your will. Just as a slave is identified only by his/her master, so we become bondservants of Christ.
But unlike any other lord or any other savior, He who is both Lord and Savior, God incarnate, chose to lay down His throne to identify with you, to identify with me. And He commanded us to be holy because He is holy. We are ambassadors of Christ.
So when the world looks at you, what is they see? I’m not asking if they like you or accept you. Think of how much the world seems to hate God, especially Jesus Christ. No servant is greater than his master. But when the world looks at you do they see Jesus? Do they see hope in the storm, light in the darkness, unshakeable joy, peace that surpasses all understanding, selfless love?
Or do you live in ways that are incongruent, or should I say incompatible, with the name you took when you decided to call yourself a Christian?
Jesus says that no man can serve two masters (hence the inside conflict we often experience between our spirit and our flesh), Joshua said to choose this day whom you will serve, Peter warns us not to grieve the Holy Spirit, Paul says to crucify the flesh daily, Proverbs tells us to fear God, and all throughout scripture we are told to be salt and light, to give Him praise, make a joyful noise, and proclaim the goodness of God Almighty.
The Bible at times refers to us as gods or sons of god.
(John 10:30-36 NASB) "30 "I and the Father are one." 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" 33 The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God." 34 Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS'? 35 "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?"
Jesus is not using the law to endorse the idea that we can all be gods as some cults would suggest. The original language of the text translates to mean either God or resembling God in any way. Jesus was saying it is not wrong to identify with God since we are made in His image.
Christian means little Christ. Whether by word or by deed our lives present a picture to our neighbors of who He is, of what His name represents. Just as a bride takes the name of her groom, we (the bride of Christ) take His name. Do we take it in vain, or do we let it change us?
Unfortunately, my tendency - and maybe yours - is to take this commandment almost as a threat. We think God's focus is our behavior. But our actions are only a small part of what it means to take God's name in vain.
In reality, this commandment is directly connected to how we view ourselves. Now this is not a foolish attempt to twist this commandment so we are equals to God. It’s just a simple question of whether or not we are letting God define us.