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The 10 Commandments – Part 3

The 10 Commandments – Part 3
Posted on April 14, 2021  - By Tobin Mattackal

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at an introduction to the Decalogue (or, the 10 commandments).

In Part 2, we delved deep into the first and second commandment: what it really means, why has it been given, and how we can keep it. 

3. It’s NOT just a name. (Exodus 20:7)

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.

This is arguably the commandment we all disobey the most — probably because we take it very lightly. Do we really understand how serious an offence this is before God?

The word ‘vain’, in this commandment, means empty — worthless, or to no good purpose. In the Old Testament, when people used God’s name in vain, they were stoned to death (Leviticus 24:16).

The implication is plain and clear: violating the third commandment is not at all a small thing before God. He takes it very seriously.

The implication is plain and clear: violating the third commandment is not at all a small thing before God

The what:

  • We are not to take the name of the LORD in a way which renders it empty or nothing, wicked, worthless, or for wrong reasons.
  • We are also forbidden from giving false or empty oaths. Leviticus 19:12 reads, “Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.”

The why:

  1. Every time we take God’s name in vain, we are actually taking His character in vain. And we simply cannot take the name of God — who is holy, merciful, gracious, unreachable, and pure — as something common and profane.
  2. Perhaps this may sound uncomfortable to our hearts, but I believe it is true: we take God’s name in vain because we don’t take God seriously. For some, God is just a Being associated with Christians. God created everything. He loves us all, He is also the one we worship on Sundays. But that’s it. If that is all God is to you, it may not seem like a big deal to use His name casually. But if we truly know God — if He truly means something to us personally — every time we use His name, we’d find ourselves revering Him; not taking His name in vain.

Kevin DeYoung puts it like this: “The way to see God’s glory is to hear His name. To know the name YHWH, the merciful and gracious one, is not to merely know something about God; it is to know God Himself.”

The how:

a. Don’t use God’s name carelessly.

One of the ways we do this is in our normal conversations with friends or family. We say things like, “Oh God, what happened to you? or “Oh my God, did you hear about that?” In one sense, it’s just us getting excited for a moment — nothing more. But regardless of our reasons, this commandment holds. Every time we use God’s name in vain, it is wrong. 

Sometimes, we also use God’s name falsely and speak on God’s behalf (Jeremiah 23:25). We say things like, “Recently, God told me this,” or “I saw a vision where God said this,” when such a thing never happened. 

Sometimes, we pray to God for the sake of it. Think of the instances where we’ve had the most delicious food kept in front of us and someone asks you to say grace. We oblige, but even as we thank God, all we could think of was the food — not the Provider. This is also one way we take the name of the Lord in vain. 

We take God’s name in vain because we don’t take God seriously

b. Use God’s name to worship Him.

Scripture is full of examples of reverence and worship when God’s name is used (Psalm 8:1, 29:2; Philippians 2:10-11).

4. Rest and rejoice (Exodus 20:8-11)

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The what:

The commandment starts with the word, ‘remember’, i.e., the Sabbath was not called into existence at Mt. Sinai. The Israelites were called to remember what already was in existence. But what are they called to remember? They are called to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. How? By resting on the Sabbath day as the Lord rested. 

We live in a day and age where the ready response to the question, “How was your week?” is, “Busy”. We are all busy with life — with work, education, and a lot more. God has provided a solution — a balance — for this. 

Rest, He says, so you can rejoice. Even before time, God had created a style/rhythm in which we can live our day-to-day lives. Our governments did not come up with the Sabbath. God did.

Even before time, God had created a style/rhythm in which we can live our day-to-day lives. Rest, so you can rejoice, He says

What it doesn’t mean

Firstly, let’s be clear: God is not telling us to stop working here. Our God is a working God (Psalm 121:3-4). Essentially, what God is telling us here is that, while work is great, rest is important too. We need time to pause and reflect. Not just on all we’ve done but what God has done through us. 

When we remember what God has done, we don’t stop with reflection, we respond in worship. When we learn to rest in God, we learn to rejoice in God. Keeping the Sabbath is not just an absence of work, rather it leads us to worship the only God.   

Secondly, this commandment does not teach that we work six days of the week and worship God only on the Sabbath day. We are called to worship God every day of our lives. What this commandment demands is that we cease work and completely rest — and that will help devote our minds  to God better.

The why:

  • Rest is important. We can get too caught up with our busy lives and forget to pause, reflect, and be thankful.
  • When we don’t rest, we fail to rest in God. If we never cease from our works, we will fail to rest in Christ. In His grace, God has always provided rest to His people. We see this from the time of creation itself. And it doesn’t change for us today. Matthew 11:28 reads, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
    Kevin DeYoung puts it like this, “The most important ways we can observe the Sabbath is by ceasing from our flawed, sinful labours and trusting in Christ alone for salvation.”

If we never cease from our works, we will fail to rest in Christ

The how:

a. When you have your day off: 

    • Rest: Rest completely — both physically and mentally. Don’t take your work with you. Don’t let the worries of the world overwhelm you. Our bodies are not superhuman. We all need rest. And God has graciously blessed us with it. 
    • Reflect/Remember: Take time to remember how your week went. Remember God, the One who sustained, provided, and protected you. 
    • Rejoice: Rejoice in God as you reflect. Thank God for what He has done in and through you. Rejoice that you have the ultimate rest in Jesus, who cried out, “It is finished!” having completed His work on the cross. 

b. Few questions to consider by Kevin DeYoung:

    • Can you trust God to make up for the “lost” work on one day by blessing you on the other six days?
    • Can you trust that this burden you’re carrying is not yours to carry alone? 
    • Can you trust God to carry it (and carry you!) if you have faith enough to stop striving and start worshipping?

Tobin Mattackal

About Tobin Mattackal

Tobin Mattackal completed his Masters in Bible Studies at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. Raised in the UAE, he spent his university days discipling youngsters and reading Scripture with them. He is currently serving at his local church in Bangalore, India, and is devoted to sharing the good news of salvation with the lost.



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