How often will you hear God's name used flippantly today?
Read / Listen
Read Exodus 20:7
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 99
Q. What is God’s will for us
in the third commandment?
A. That we neither blaspheme
nor misuse the name of God
or unnecessary oaths,
nor share in such horrible sins
by being silent bystanders.
In a word, it requires
that we use the holy name of God
only with reverence and awe,
so that we may properly
pray to him,
and praise him
The third commandment directs us to not blaspheme the name of God. Depending on the translation of scripture you are reading, the wording will look a bit different. For example, the NIV (New International Version) and NLT (New Living Translation) use the words “misuse the name of God” in their translation. The ESV (English Standard Version) and KJV (King James Version) translations instead translate this as speaking against taking the “name of the LORD in vain”.
The difference in translation does not necessarily equate to a disagreement in the meaning of Exodus 20:7; both translations bring out a different nuance of the Hebrew word that was originally written.
Beyond the question of how to best translate this passage, there is also the challenge of determining what is meant by misusing the name of the Lord or taking the name of the Lord in vain. The Catechism shows how there are multiple items that fall under the umbrella of misusing the name of God. This will be our focus for this week, examining the ways that the name of God is blasphemed as laid out in the Heidelberg Catechism.
As Q&A 99 warns against blaspheming or misusing the name of God, the first listed example of misuse is cursing. While there is a sinful aspect to profanity, not all profanity falls under this description. The type of cursing described by the catechism is profaning the name of God. There are multiple ways in which one may find themselves profaning the name of God. One such example is to directly curse the name of God. A more common way that the name of God is blasphemed is through its use in place of a curse word.
Arguably the most used curse word in the English language is the misuse of the name of God. If you regularly watch television or listen to the radio, you may notice that there are several curse words that are “bleeped” out or muted when spoken; yet the most profane of them all, blaspheming against the name of God, is allowed, and has become normalized.
But just because something is common, that does not mean it is okay. Misusing the name of God, including through cursing using the Lord’s name, breaks the third commandment and is worth taking seriously.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, whose name is holy;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that your mouth will only use God's name in ways that praise Him;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 2 Corinthians 9