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. 

Share

Walking through Infertility

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

Source: Crossway

I recently came across Proverbs 30:16 which speaks of four things in life that never say ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land which is never satisfied with water, and fire. This verse jumped out of the text during my bible reading because it made me stop and contemplate the agony for those who have dealt and are dealing with infertility. I have friends who have miscarried and also friends who have experienced the monthly frustration of not being able to conceive a child. And it is heartbreaking.

When I came across Walking Though Infertility by Matthew Arbo I was very intrigued to read about infertility from a biblical perspective and to hopefully gain more insight on how to support those I know who are walking this journey. While this book was written for those who are struggling with infertility any Chrisitan who wants to better understand this subject in light of who God is and what he has done should read this book.

God is the giver of life and God’s word is life giving. The book begins by exploring the stories of more prominent infertility narratives in scripture. Details from the stories of Abram and Sarai (Gen. 15-21), Jacob, Leah, and Rachel (Gen. 28-30), Elkanah and Hannah (1 Samuel 1), and Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25) are shared not to show how all these narratives have a “happy ending” resulting in a successful pregnancy. Instead the author is quick to point out that these stories highlight God’s covenant faithfulness. Old covenant inclusion depended on being born into a house of Israel while new covenant inclusion depends on the redemptive grace of Christ that saves sinners.

I seriously love God’s word! If you aren’t reading the Old Testament you need to do it! It will make the New Testament even more amazing.

The book goes on to speak about Christian Discipleship, which I was not expecting in a book on infertility. In light of the good news of the gospel though this makes perfect sense to be a topic that is covered and addressed. The author states that the ecclesial purpose for all believing couples, those with and those without children, is the same:

LOVE GOD

LOVE ONE ANOTHER

MAKE KNOWN THE GOSPEL

The gospel truths in this book were eyeopening. If you have children of your own or it is just you and your spouse, discipleship enables us to find our place in the world. Jesus wants us to do life with him but we must accept the terms of our existence that he sets. Our identity needs to be found in God, even parenthood with all the best of intentions can be made into an idol. We must be content in Christ’s authority and be ready to be used at his disposal for the good of his kingdom. Membership with Christ implies mission with Christ.

Interwoven throughout the book is a hypothetical couple who you follow along with on their infertility journey. This was helpful to see how a couple could apply the information from the book into their own life while making decisions in light of God’s word.

The final chapter of this book on the moral appraisal of fertility treatment was so informative and well written, it also discusses miscarriage and surrogacy. I never had given any thought to the moral ethics of fertility treatments like IUI and IVF. IUI is the least involved and carries few moral implications. On the other hand IVF carries several significant moral implications included the creation of excess embryos, assumed risks to the child, and the expense of treatment. There is an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 embryos frozen in storage across the United States waiting to be implanted and the likelihood of these embryos being destroyed is so high. Even with these risks IVF may be morally permissible if the couple is able to accept several outcomes as described in detail in the book.

I wish I could go into all the details in this final chapter and for this information alone I would recommend purchasing a copy of Walking Through Infertility.

Walking Through Infertility is available on Amazon.

Share

In His Image

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

Source: Crossway

Have you ever wondered what God’s will is for your life? In His Image by Jen Wilkin reflects on 10 communicable attributes of God:

  • Holy
  • Good
  • Loving
  • Merciful
  • Just
  • Graceful
  • Faithful
  • Patient
  • Truthful
  • Wise

This list describes how we be conformed to the image of Christ. The overarching theme of the book is to show that when we “focus on our actions without addressing our hearts, we may end up merely as better behaved lovers of self.”

Biblical truths and scripture flood this book making it a great read for new believers as well as those who have spent numerous years studying and reading God’s word. With the truths of scripture jumping off every page it is easy to see that God doesn’t want us to be conformed to who we were. Instead he wants us to be re-formed to who we should be by the power of the Holy Spirit. The more we grow in holiness the more we will grow to also hate our sin.

Each chapter ends with several verses and questions for reflection. While I think In His Image is great to read on your own it would be an excellent book to do with a friend or small group because the questions are thoughtful and go deep. The chapter on Truthfulness had me cringing slightly at the thought of answering the following question out loud “How prone are you to lying and shading the truth? In what situations are you most likely to lie?” When thinking how I would answer this question in a room with a group of women the answer that first popped into my head is that I am not really prone to lying, but that would be a lie.  Thanks Jen Wilkin for asking the questions I don’t really want to answer.  I appreciate the accountability.

I have six pages of notes from reading this book. It was good because it caused me to reflect on the characteristics of God and how he reveals his character in the bible. Here are a few of my highlighted passages…

“We allow minor annoyances to test our patience and let our anger rise but God who we have actually committed sins against is patient with full knowledge of every single one of our offenses.”

“God is the source of all knowledge and can not be less than truthful. He defines reality because he is its origin. God defines objective reality which means Christianity flatly denies moral relativism.”

“The immediate effect of apprehending Gods justice will be an inward desire to obey. The longterm effect will be an outward facing desire to do justice for others.”

“Coveting implies a lack of Gods present provision and hoarding anticipates a lack of God’s good provision in the future.”

“Patience is not just the ability to wait but to abide. It is not gritting our teeth waiting for our circumstances to change or trial to resolve, crossing days off our calendar. It is living daily in daily awareness that God holds all things together and that whatever trouble we are facing is light and momentary. Sin and suffering have an expiration date. They are not eternal. Those who are patiently waiting in Christ do so with the assurance that all things will be made new and with conviction that everyday until then count towards eternity.”

“Everything we say or do will either illuminate or obscure the character of God. Sanctification is the process of joyfully growing luminous.”

I highly recommend this book. In His Image is available on Amazon.

Share