Our glorious Lord Jesus Christ left His glory in heaven and came down to us. (Philippians 2:5-8). This was because of His great love for man and that He desired to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10).
To that end, our precious Christ lived among us us, lived among sin while not sinning Himself. He taught, He healed, He exorcised, He performed miracles. He discipled, He interceded, He obeyed the Father’s will.
Jesus spent all of His ministry hours, when not praying and rarely sleeping enough, to teach us. That is doctrine.
The word “doctrine” comes from the Greek word “didaskolos,” and it basically means “teaching.” It is used many times in the New Testament. Doctrine is extremely important in Christianity. By it we know who God is, what He has done, what the Trinity is, the deity of Christ, His resurrection, salvation, justification, etc. Doctrine is what defines the who’s and what’s of Christianity. In fact, you can’t be saved without doctrine. Rev. Matt Slick, CARM.org
He did all this because He loved us. But beyond that, Jesus did it because He loves the Father, He was obeying the Father. Jesus at all times and in all moments sought the glory of the Father. (John 7:18). God’s glory was primary in the redemption plan.
Jesus’ work was to glorify the Father on earth. (John 7:14).
Now, having the right view of God is of utmost importance, beginning with Who He is. We cannot give Him the glory He deserves if we have a terribly flawed view of Him. One of the most basic ways we know Him is by His Name.
God protects His name. It is the name filled with all authority, all holiness, and when manifested on earth to be seen by men, filled with glory. So God made a commandment for us to never misuse His name. In Exodus 20 God commanded,
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. (Exodus 20:7)
There are two things I’d like to look at regarding the name of God and its use today.
|Colton Burpo, the boy who ‘went to heaven’ & whose experience is the basis
for the book Heaven is For Real, irreverently describing “God” as “really big”
and “looks like the archangel Gabriel.” source
Modern Christianity has trivialized God to the point where many see Him as a distant boyfriend, a prosperous ATM machine, an entertaining miracle maker, or a heavenly hospital. Man’s view of God has always been flawed (and it always will be to some degree, even in true Christians while we’re on earth, because we’re still flawed with sin) but even at that, taking utmost care not to misuse God’s name should be a primary focus in Christian life. After all, it is the third commandment! It all begins with how we use His name.
Names have power, they have authority, they mean something. What if your boss habitually mispronounces your name, wouldn’t that irk you? What if the Bureau of Motor Vehicles misspelled your name, isn’t that annoying? Even more, a misspelled name may have legal implications. When a relative insists on shortening the name of your child from Michael to Mike or from Elizabeth to Betsy, don’t you correct him?
|Incident occurred in 1991.
Above CC photo from 2009
If we as puny humans fuss over the spelling or pronunciation of our name, how do you think God feels about His name? His is the highest name! (Philippians 2:9). The only name! (Acts 4:12)
Right, Swaggart’s blasphemy is especially egregious because he used the Lord’s name to make Him complicit in covering up Swaggart’s adultery and fornication.
Many people regularly violate the third commandment by taking God’s name in vain. They use it in a swear, they say ‘OMG’, they use it to show their amazement over an extra large ice cream cone. Trivial.
But that is not only what it means not to take God’s name in vain. In our Sunday School lesson last week, written by JD Greear and Trevin Wax, there are other ways to take God’s name one may not have considered. This is the first point. Taking God’s name in vain does not begin and end with ‘OMG’. Not by far. In the lesson Mr Greear and Mr Wax narrow in and focus on three other ways to take God’s name in vain:
1. Using God’s name flippantly
2. Using God’s name untruthfully
3. Using God’s name hypocritically
Left, In the preface, Moore says while she was writing the book God wouldn’t let her eat breakfast. Also, if she had not written the book the “rocks in my yard would have cried out”. So she said,”I entrust this message entirely to the One who delivered it while I sat bug-eyed.” p. xi.
I’d like to speak to #1, using God’s name flippantly. In the lesson the men spoke to the above, the often spoken OMG or swearing that has God’s name in it. However the authors also said, “Perhaps the danger we as Christians must be careful of is not cursing but trivializing God’s name by speaking of Him on too-familiar terms.” They advise against a careless approach to speaking of God.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29).
“Too-familiar” terms. That is surely an issue in this day and age. The fear of the Lord in believers is a bygone notion. It shouldn’t be.
I will use a real-life example of something Beth Moore recently said to show that she uses God’s name in vain, because she uses His name flippantly.
At a recent conference for women, Moore ended it by a usual method she employs in her performance, a call-and-response. She often tells the women attending to repeat after her. What is asked to be repeated are not usually bible verses but creeds and mottoes Moore has invented. Here is an example from the Unwrap the Bible Conference,
Be confident this great day That your God has chosen you
Please understand that this kind of message is often spoken at her conferences and in her teaching. It is not just one instance one time, but a pattern of presuming to speak for God.
If we unpack this and apply it to the prohibition not to take the Lord’s name in vain, how can we reconcile a female teacher presuming to know that 11,000 women in attendance have been chosen by God? And worse, to tell them so, in God’s name?! What Moore is actually saying is that she knows God’s thoughts and she knows His plans- for each of the 11,000 women of whom she was speaking this creed with God’s name in it. We cannot say such things, and we should not! This is taking the Lord’s name in vain.
But there is a worse problem. Yes it is very bad for Beth Moore or Kim Smith or Jimmy Swaggart or Colton Burpo or any person to speak of God on too-familiar terms, imputing thoughts to Him He didn’t have, and relating doctrines He didn’t teach. Those are serious breaches of God’s law.
But it is a sin for the hearers, too.
This is point #2. We know the bible says that false teachers will have a condemnation upon them. (Jude 1:4). For all teachers (true and false) who teach the word, they are judged more strictly. (James 3:1). Again, it relates to God’s holy name not being taken in vain. But the hearers are also judged!
There are two scriptures I have in mind to show you this. First we turn to the familiar verse I mention often, in Revelation 2:20. This is where the Lord has something against the people in the church at Thyatira: they tolerated the false prophetess Jezebel and by their inaction allowed her to seduce His servants. The sin of inaction is still a sin.
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:17).
However we go even further. We read in Leviticus 24:11,13-16a the following-
and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. … Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death.
Notice the distinction in verse 11, the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name and he cursed the Name. In the Hebrew the word for blaspheme used in this verse means “to utter a curse against, curse.” You might argue that Beth Moore and other false teachers don’t outright curse against God. You’re right, they don’t. However look at the second charge made against the woman’s son. He cursed. The Hebrew word used in this case means “to trivialize” or to be slight or swift about the Name. To lighten it.
The chief lesson to be learned from this incident and from the law here given is very plain. It is the high criminality in God’s sight of all irreverent use of His holy name… [failure to act] cannot but operate most fatally by breaking down in the public conscience that profound reverence toward God, which is the most essential condition of the maintenance of all private and public morality. ~William Robertson Nicoll, Expositor’s Bible, 1888
|Kim Smith of Jesus Culture describing her vision of seeing
God the Father at a table making a clay heart for Kim. source
When Moore or other false teachers teach, they often empty out God’s name by trivializing it. They purport to speak for God. They relate dreams and retell things that God supposedly told them. They make pronouncements about His thoughts and intentions. They are casual about His holy name.
Now look at the penalty. The person who cursed His name is stoned. But why did the hearers who heard the cursing have to lay hands on the man’s head? Because they were transferring their guilt from themselves to the blasphemer. In the case of the cursing His name, not only the one who speaks it is guilty, but the hearers are too.
James Burton Coffman in his commentary on the Leviticus 24 verse said,
God’s concern here was to remove a spot of deadly infection from the body of the Chosen People. Harford called it a “purgative” action. If not eradicated, a cancerous condition of the kind associated with profane cursing would indeed have destroyed the whole nation. Men are no longer much concerned about such things, but the growth of the cancer has already corrupted a major portion of our present society.
That was Jesus’ charge to the congregation at Thyatira, they tolerated false pronouncements purported to be said in His name by a prophetess teaching falsely. They did NOT purge it out. (I wonder what Jesus will say to the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention when He brings up Beth Moore’s false prophecies and erroneous teaching…and that not only did they tolerate them but LifeWay made money off them…)
It is my opinion that the seriousness of taking the Lord’s name in vain is one important reason “not many of you should seek to be teachers” (James 3:1). To teach falsely is not just to teach error mixed with truth. It is also to
1. Use God’s name flippantly (Example, Beth Moore)
2. Use God’s name untruthfully (Example, Kim Smith)
3. Use God’s name hypocritically (Example, Jimmy Swaggart)
In remembering the Hebrews 12 verse, acceptable worship means remembering who He is, no matter how loving we feel toward Him, and no matter how boldly we come to the throne, (Hebrews 4:16), we must fear Him by worshiping in reverence and awe.
Now of course I am not agitating to re-institute lex talionis, an eye for an eye, the law of retaliation. Nor am I wanting to see false teachers stoned. Jesus will repay. He is well aware of the damage done in His holy name and He will perfectly and justly recompense all for their deeds. (Isaiah 59:18, Romans 2:6). This essay is about the importance of His holy Name and the various ways we take it in vain. Read Leviticus 24:10-16, and read Deuteronomy 17:1-7 to see how seriously God takes it when an idolater mishandles anything about Himself, and the guilt that is upon the hearers too.
In Deuteronomy God charged the people with the task of inquiring diligently when they hear of an idolatrous situation, and if found guilty, the laying on of hands again to “purge the evil from among your midst.” (Deuteronomy 17:7). And in the New Testament, Revelation 2:20, the church at Thyatira…”I have this against you, that you tolerate…”
God is adamant that His name be used in truthful and honorable ways. ~Greear, Wax “The Gospel Project for Adults”