Making God’s Name Holy (the third Commandment)

If you identify with Christianity, call yourself a Christian, or call Jesus your God you will undoubtedly know the Lord’s Prayer. Each denomination has a slightly different variation on the same thing based on which Biblical translation of the original Greek text taken from Matthew 6 they use. It starts in verse 9, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Why do you think Jesus started out like that? “…hollowed be your name.” What exactly does that mean? “Hollowed.”

The Greek word is “hagiazo” which means to make venerable or respected. It means to clean out and make pure. It means to separate from profanity. We know God is holy but what about His name? Jesus is asking that we first ask that the first Person of the Godhead’s NAME be made respected, that His NAME be made pure, that His NAME is not to be profaned. The world we live in is so far from that, so much so, I even catch Christians saying “Oh my G-d” often. Not only is the desire to make God’s Name respected the first thing Jesus told us to pray for, but it is also commanded of us in the third commandment to not use in vain.

“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

God’s name is to be respected and it is not. God’s name is to be upheld as pure and it is not. God’s name is to be separated from profanity and it is certainly not. When a great king or our president enters a room, we all stand up out of respect. If you stayed seated most everyone around you would either guilt you into standing by their glares or someone would grab your elbow and make you stand. How often do you correct someone when they profane God’s name? How often do you get jealous for the name of God?

I admonish you to not let it go when you hear the Lord’s Name taken in vain. Stand up whenever you can on this major issue that the world and even the church has taken a lighter view on. I’ve even heard a pastor from the pulpit say “Oh my G-d” when as he was recounting a story. I was so shocked I did a double take. I thought, “Did he actually just say that?” I looked around and oddly no one caught it. I had to re-listen to the tape to see if I was hearing things and sure enough, there it was, plain as day. That is how subtle this sin and issue is in this world.

There is a second way in which the third commandment is meant. It is not one that is often thought of but I fear that because of that simple fact, it can seep in more easily and cause us to get caught in sin and not even know it. When you speak to someone do you constantly say their name over and over during that conversation? I doubt you even say it once. They know you are talking to them. But how do we pray? We say “Lord Jesus.” “Father God.” “Oh God.” “My Father.” “God, just.” “God, just.” “God, just.” That last one I said three times, because it is the one I hear most often. Just…just…just.

First off, we are using God’s name in vain by continually using it as padding during our prayer to him. Second, we are speaking in such a disrespectful way when we keep saying “just” as if we could speak down to him and he would do what we ask. Think about it. Who do you ever talk to that way? “Would you just do this?” “Just help in this area.” Usually we use that word in the question form to our children. Not only is it another filler word when you pray, it is also a very disrespectful way of speaking to God Almighty.

Finally there is a third way in which we break the third commandment. This one is the most insidious. When we do anything in our life there are always motives behind them. When you brush your teeth in the morning, we say we do it because we want to take care of our teeth and not get cavities or get any pulled out. However realistically the real reason we brush them in the morning is because we don’t want anyone to smell our bad breath. Of course we brush them twice a day so we don’t loose them, but our motives are usually tainted with self preservation based on what others will think of us. Our actions may be righteous in light of our teeth, but our motives are not pure. Have you ever done something for God or in his name? We do things all the time for God. We serve in our church, we discuss his Word in small groups, we give money to the poor, plus a whole host of other things we would consider as “good” or “righteous” deeds.

God has said in Isaiah 64:6 ESV, “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” Many translations state it as “filthy rags.” The term for “polluted” and “filthy” is “iddah” which is the feminine noun describing a woman’s menstruation. This is how graphic and to-the-point our God is! Our deeds, that we consider righteous, anything you do or have done that you can claim as being good or in the name of God, is counted as dirty, disgusting, used, feminine hygiene products. You don’t ever hear this preached from the pulpit so please don’t take my word for it. Be a good Berean and look it up. Find out what the original text said and meant. It is clear as day. Our motives are stained, soiled, and ultimately disgusting to God in comparison to what pure righteousness actually is.

This is not to say you should hold up in your home and do nothing good. Quite the contrary. The Bible is clear all over the place that we are to do as many good deeds as we can so others might praise our Father in Heaven. It is our motives that trip us up. Sadly we may not even clearly see our motives and our brains can deceive us fully. The saying “hindsight is 20-20” is so true for anyone who has claimed Christianity as their path in life and then became actually saved later in life. I am one such person.

I can look back and literally laugh at how blind I was to my righteous deeds. Every single one of them was polluted. Everything I did in God’s name was nullified by my selfish motives that are only clear now. I was a leader in my church and loved the respect I got from others. I was the pianist on the worship team and loved the praise from adults and peers. I was a missionary and loved the pats on the back I got from going to serve. I was a prayer warrior and loved when people in the church came to me first. I was even a harmonizer who loved to get compliments on my voice after worship. How disgusting! How deplorable! How dishonest!

An area that I see most often in the church or in Christian circles is people trying to make a profit off of each other by joining various groups and then promoting their business or service. I am guilty of it myself. What are we to do? Not let people know what we do for a living? Christians love to help each other and we would rather use the products and services of fellow Christians than buy from someone else. So, here is where it gets tricky. I have seen time and time again wolves in sheep’s clothing so to speak. People who come into churches and Christian circles with an underlying motive to make a profit. They may not be doing it consciously but subconsciously they know how easy it is to sell to “Christians.” Even the Christian magazines and radio stations state why Christians like buying from within the “family” as a part of their marketing materials to get you to advertise with them. Before you try to sell anything to any Christian, check your motives.

So what about now? Now that I am actually saved? That is the catch-22 I suppose. Now the Spirit convicts me of my motives either before I do them, during what I am doing, or very VERY soon after I do them. My heart weighs heavy when my motives are wrong. But, even now my righteous deeds are STILL like filthy rags. No one does good, no not even one as stated in Romans 3:10-12 ESV as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Remember what Jesus says in Luke 18:19 ESV “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

How do we process all of this then in light of our salvation? Are your motives tainting your good deeds? Do you find yourself doing things “in the name of God”? Do you constantly say His name over and over again in prayer without a thought to it’s weight. Do you find yourself using the Lord’s Name in vain? Do you say OMG as your “Christian” way of fitting in? I know that this world has desensitized us to it. We see it everywhere in hashtags, on billboards, in texts, even on TV show title sequences. Can I tell you something? It breaks my heart. Seriously. Every time I see it or hear it, my heart crushes into my chest a little deeper. There are variations too on the same thing: Oh Em Gee, Oh My Gosh, Jeez, Jesus, they all stem from the same deplorable thing: breaking the third commandment. This is not a joke. It is a serious thing. Taking the LORD’s name in vain should not be a product of the time we live in. Be clear on this, it is a product of the deceptive design of Satan.

You may have been a Christian for a while and have possibly gotten desensitized to this. It is possible that this has never been an issue for you until now because it never occurred to you that it is considered a sin (one of the top 3 by the way). But maybe, just maybe you are not fully saved. OK, now before you get defensive consider this: I spent 25 years thinking I was saved. On this topic I pretty much steered clear of saying “Oh my God” but occasionally I’d say it. Jeez was a regular statement for me. Then, I actually got saved. I was 39. Instantly my spirit was crushed every time I heard or saw any of the phrases taking the LORD’s name in vain. It was like the moment you decide you want to have a baby all you see are babies everywhere. It was all I could do to stop my ears with earplugs. No one told me this, it was the Spirit inside me that was grieving what my own spirit never grieved before.

I am not saying that you definitely are not saved if you say or use any of those statements, however you may not be. Check yourself. While I am not God and do not know your heart, and I clearly do not have it all worked out, I do know the God’s law is written on my heart and without any warning or theological training, this specific thing was so palpable when I got saved and still is that I cannot help but think it should at least be viewed as a red flag and worth digging deeper to see if you are truly saved.

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