No Other Name (Commandment #3)
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAYS 36-37
What is God’s will for us in the third commandment?
That we neither blaspheme nor misuse the name of God by cursing, perjury, 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 confess him, pray to him, and praise him in everything we do and say.
Is blasphemy of God’s name by swearing and cursing really such serious sin that God is angry also with those who do not do all they can to help prevent and forbid it?
Yes, indeed. No sin is greater, no sin makes God more angry than blaspheming his name. That is why he commanded the death penalty for it.
But may we swear an oath in God’s name if we do it reverently?
Yes, when the government demands it, or when necessity requires it, in order to maintain and promote truth and trustworthiness for God glory and our neighbor’s good. Such oaths are approved in God’s Word and were rightly used by Old and New Testament believers.
May we swear by saints or other creatures?
No. A legitimate oath means calling upon God as the one who knows my heart to witness to my truthfulness and to punish me if I swear falsely. No creature is worthy of such honor.
DEVOTIONAL: AUGUST 20-26
No Other Name (Commandment #3)
Christians are people who bear the name of God. Every decision we make and every act in which we engage makes a statement about our relationship with the Lord, about His rule over our lives. Therefore, says the Catechism, the meaning of the third commandment is that we must “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe, so that we may properly confess him, pray to him, and praise him in everything we do and say.” Think of this in terms of God’s gospel promise and purpose. First, God’s name reveals His trustworthy character as a promise-making and promise-keeping God. His name means that He is the One who is with us always (Exodus 3:1-15). His promise is fulfilled in Christ, Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:22-23), and is experienced through the Holy Spirit, the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that He would not leave us as orphans in this world (John 14:15-18). The name of God reveals His constant faithfulness and abiding love. Second, God’s name reveals His grace-filled purpose through Jesus Christ. Jesus’ name is the revelation of His work and accomplishment in the name of the Father who sent Him. Acts 3 teaches that His name reveals His uniqueness as Jesus of Nazareth (v.6), the Father’s servant who suffered and was glorified (v.13; cf. Isaiah 52:13-53:12). His name also reveals Him as holy and righteous (v.14), as the author of life (v.15), and as the revelation of truth (v.22). Therefore, says the Catechism, “no sin is greater, no sin makes God more angry than blaspheming his name.” Why? Because there is no other name by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12). So, ask yourself a question. Is your lifestyle consistent with the name your lips confess, the name to whom you pray? Is it a reason for others to praise His name? We bear the name of God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, teaches the Catechism, to present ourselves “as a living sacrifice of thanks” and “to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life” (Lord’s Day 12). God’s name invites us to respond to His grace with our own constant faithfulness and abiding love. We know His trustworthy promises toward us! Will we receive and live His purpose in Christ?
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn
Sunday, August 20
The meaning of the Third Commandment, according to the Catechism is that we are to “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe.” Read Psalm 8. Prayerfully reflect on how your life has and will demonstrate that the Lord’s name is majestic in all the earth. How will you grow in this grace?
Monday, August 21
To “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe” means that we are to “properly confess him.” Read Matthew 10:32-33 and Romans 10:8-13. Prayerfully reflect on how your public words and deeds demonstrate to others your love for and loyalty to Jesus Christ. How will you grow in this grace?
Tuesday, August 22
To “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe” means that we are to “properly pray to him.” Read Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-13. Prayerfully reflect on how the character of your prayers – your adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and requests to the Lord – demonstrate reverence and awe for God’s name rather than your own. How will you grow in this grace?
Wednesday, August 23
To “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe” means that we are to “properly praise him in everything we do and say.” Read Colossians 3:15-17. Prayerfully reflect on how your life brings praise to God in everything – joy and sorrow, plenty and want, well fed or hungry, in life and death (Philippians 4:12). How will you grow in this grace?
Thursday, August 24
Prayerfully reflect on Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37. Identify how you will “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe” within your Church, the fellowship of believers. How will you grow in this grace?
Friday, August 25
Prayerfully reflect on 1 Timothy 2:1-8. Identify how you will “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe” within your village, town or city. How will you grow in this grace?
Saturday, August 26
Prayerfully reflect on Acts 2:1-13 and Revelation 7:9-17. Identify how you will “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe” to advance His global mission of hope within the Church and culture. How will you grow in this grace?