Thinking More About the Third Commandment

The third commandment reads:

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Several years ago our pastor preached a sermon about using the phrases “Oh my God!” or “OMG” while speaking. And while I personally had made it a point not to say  “Oh my God!” saying “OMG” or even “Oh my gosh!” was not something that I censored coming out my mouth. I figured if I wasn’t actually saying God’s name in this manner I was doing ok. I knew that there’s little regard to Jesus and who he is when someone is yelling in frustration “Jesus Christ!” but didn’t really think about the bigger message of the third commandment until this sermon.

The third commandment has been discussed numerous times over the last few months in our home. And then I recently read the book Christian Ethics by Dr. Wayne Grudem and felt even more convicted by this verse.

I received a copy of this book from Crossway to review. All opinions are my own. Source: Crossway

WHAT IS CHRISTIAN ETHICS?

It is vitally important for Christians to apply Bible passages wisely and study ethics. The main reason to study ethics from this perspective is that we can know God’s will for us. Jesus taught his followers to keep his commandments (Matt. 28:19-20, John 14:15, John 15:10) and in order to understand how these commandments apply to us today we have to know what they are, including their Old Testament background and further explanation in the New Testament.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work….”. God gave us the Bible in order for us to know what he views as morally right and wrong . When studying the Bible from an ethical viewpoint it is necessary to understand and study all relevant scripture related to the topic. It is also important to remember that because the Bible is God’s word it is the highest authority over all other authorities for ethics.

THE MEANING OF THE THIRD COMMANDMENT

Names are super important in the Bible. So important that God would sometimes designate the name of a person. This might have been a name change to account for their new role or to more accurately describe them. We see this happen in Genesis 17 when Abram becomes Abraham and also Sarai becomes Sarah. Taking all this in to account I have begun to see that the “name” of God not only refers to his actual name (like the Lord) but also to everything that is said about God in terms of his character and reputation. The third commandment goes far beyond foolishly using God’s name and has much greater implications then I ever realized.

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1

On the basis that names are important to God, and that a name can also refer to the entire reputation of a person, then the third commandment also prohibits any false and unworthy speech about God. Christian you should be challenged by this. I know I have been. We need to consider how we speak about God and how we worship God. God’s name should be spoken with reverence and his character accurately honored by what we say.

“but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:8-10

Earlier this year I heard a new worship song on the radio that I really liked. The music, the beat, and the overall feeling the song gave was great….but then I started focusing on the lyrics and now have a difficult time listening to this song. I know there are much bigger issues to be concerned about, yet at the same time I am thankful to have become aware of just how flippant, or dare I use the word reckless 😉 , I have been even with how I was worshipping God with song. I want to make sure that the lyrics I am singing match with the theology I believe and also speak about God’s nature and character Biblically. In no way do I see how it is honoring to God or his character to describe him as something that is not Biblically accurate.

Being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) means that my life and yours proclaims something about the Creator. God made us to be like him and represent him on the earth. When we as God’s creation sin we violate the third commandment. As an image bearer of God we reflect him with our words, thoughts, and actions, our sin portrays him in an evil and sinful way.

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:4

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

In his book Chrisitan Ethics, Wayne Grudem says “In practical terms, this understanding of the commandment means that if I act in a fair or just way, I proclaim that God, my creator and Lord is fair and just. If I act with kindness and mercy, I proclaim that God is kind and merciful. But if I tell lies, I proclaim that my God is a liar and cannot be trusted. If I am cruel and vindictive, I proclaim that God is also cruel and vindictive. This perspective helps us understand why God takes sin so seriously and why it must be punished. All sin dishonors God.”

I highly recommend, Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical and Moral Reasoning, this extremely well written and thought provoking book from Wayne Grudem.  At the end of each chapter there are questions for reflection, a memory verse, additional reading references, and a hymn, because Christian ethics should result in praise because God’s law flows from his character and his character is just that good.

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Psalm 119:97

“My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes.” Psalm 119:171

If you are looking to apply a biblical worldview to difficult ethical issues, including wealth and poverty, marriage and divorce, birth control, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, business practices, environmental stewardship, telling the truth, knowing God’s will, and understanding Old Testament laws like the third commandment be sure to check out Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical and Moral Reasoning. 

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The Mama Confessionals: What No One Tells You About Motherhood

I can remember the summer before our oldest went to preschool. I continued to second guess myself in the weeks leading up to his first day of the twice weekly class he would be going to for a combined 5 hours a week. Were we making the right choice? Would he be ok? Would I be ok? And many more anxiety filled questions that were very similar. And here is a little spoiler alert for all you parents with little babies. These questions, at least in my experience, continue to happen for each new milestone. I don’t think you can really understand this emotional roller coaster if you aren’t a parent.

At the time I was just 6 months out of counseling for postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth to our daughter. During the second week of preschool, I entered a room of 30 women+ women who I had never met to attend a weekly bible study that was held at the church where my child attended school. Clutching my Bible, I felt scared, my anxiety was choking me, but I knew I needed to be surrounded by women who I could learn from, lean on, and laugh and cry with. But most importantly I knew I needed to be fed and nourished with God’s word as often as I could.

As the months went on I found myself actively engaged in reading my Bible and more importantly being convicted by the Holy Spirit. Upon looking back at my sons preschool years I am discovering that he is not the only one who grew up. God has wrecked me. And I mean that in the best way possible.

My mama heart is bursting with love, joy, and goodness when I look at all my kids and see how much they are learning and growing, and changing. And these feelings have me either smiling or crying. The tears are happy but there is also this weird grief element that goes along with it too. It is like I am trying to enjoy these moments because I know they are fleeting by being as present as possible, but by doing this it also causes me this weird heartache.

You always hear other parents tell you that “It goes by so fast.” And that is totally true, it really is, but nobody tells you about this wonderfully horrible wave of emotions that happen each time your child reaches a life milestone.  Based on what I have already experienced I am guessing that each milestone gets more wonderful but equally more gut wrenchingly intense.

Over the past year I have made it a daily priority in our home to be intentional about reading and helping our kids understand the significance and importance of Jesus and the work that was done on the cross. These feelings that I am having as I watch my babies grow up only intensifies my desire to consistently share the gospel message with them. This life is so short. Based on this I have begun to ask myself 3 questions.

  • Have I been consistent in spending time in God’s word on a daily basis? If I can’t commit to daily reading the Bible on my own I don’t know how I can expect to be able to do it for my kids consistently.
  • Am I looking for ways to continue to grow in my knowledge and understanding of the culture and context in which the scripture was written?
  • Can others around me say that they have seen Christ centered change in my life?

With these questions in mind I can then look at what I am feeding into my kids and nourishing their minds with. And let me tell you, I am not sure when it happened but the two oldest have stopped loving veggies and only want hamburgers and pizza the majority of the time. Truly, their souls might be getting better nourishment at this point.

All jokes aside, I am so grateful. The privilege to be a parent isn’t lost on me. Frequently when I lead my kids daily bible lessons and catechism I pray that the Holy Spirit convicts them to turn to Jesus and that they will be called to repentance as they acknowledge that their sin is separating them from the Lord. With very few things for certain in this life I can rest assured knowing who I have placed my hope and faith in and I will continue to pray my children come to know God as their personal Lord and Savior.

Looking back over the last three years, I am not surprised that my son grew and changed. What I had not anticipated was that God had such plans to grow and change me. As our oldest enjoys his final week of preschool I am appreciative for the love, support, teaching, and guidance he has received. I am thankful for the friendships he has made and in turn the friendships our family has made. And lastly as Josh and I continue to raise these little ones into adulthood, I am grateful for my relationship with Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

PS…To our preschool family, our family has been blessed by being in community with you all!

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What I Learned About Church From Reading The Bible

This past summer I read an article that talked about how gyms and other secular communities are starting to fill spiritual and social needs for many nonreligious people. And this really got me thinking…

What Is The Purpose & Definition of Church? 

And why can’t I make my hobby or activity my own personal worship service? If my intentions and thoughts are God honoring while participating in an activity can I skip church on the weekend? What if I am listening to a sermon?

Which led me back to my Bible. Here is what the Bible says about the church and how it is recognized:

  • Teaching and preaching the Word of God. (Colossians 3:15)
  • Providing fellowship and accountability. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • Communion and baptisms. (Acts 2:42)
  • Biblical leadership. (Ephesians 4:11-13, Titus 1:5-9)
  • Sharing the gospel mission and discipleship. (Matthew 28:19-20)

The word church comes from two separate greek words.

  • Ekklesia –> gathering of citizens called out from home into a public place or an assembly
  • ology –> study of

Ecclesiology is crucial to understand God’s purpose for believers in the world. Ekklesia in scripture can refer to two different things, the church can mean all Christ followers across the world or the local church and a specific body of believers.

What Church Is Not

In order to understand what church is you need to know what church is not.

Church is not a building. Early Chrisitans met in homes.

Church is not an event. In 1 Corinthians it says that they were to do things that would strengthen everyone present like sing, teach, and share revelations from God. Not all church gatherings may have had all these elements but these are a few of the things that occurred. Church is about worshipping God but it needs to be looked as different from an event or production.

Church is not a business. The church is a living organism rather than an organization.

Before I had kids, when I was at my peak of teaching group fitness, yoga, and personal training clients, I would occasionally skip church in order to hike, bike, swim laps, run, or participate in another form of physical activity. I justified skipping church to take care of the body God had given me and to enjoy spending time outdoors in God’s creation.

At face value this idea seems good. It is God honoring to take care of the body He gave you and there is nothing wrong with enjoying the beauty in creation and giving thanks back to God. God is the creator of all things and he created all things to glorify Him. The problem that arises is when these activities replace church and try to become a substitute under the guise of creating your own kind of “worship service”.

What I Learned

The church is the body of Christ and each of us has a specific function within that body. If we are truly seeking to follow Christ and be a part of God’s church then we understand that God has called us to be in fellowship with other believers. The church is far from perfect because it is filled with sinners. Myself being one of them.

The beautiful thing I have learned is that by reading, singing, praying, and learning from the Bible in church God is glorified and by His grace and goodness I am being transformed by His word.

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