Holy Name: H.C. Lord’s Day 36

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 36

Q 99. What is the aim of the third commandment?
A 99. 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 summary, we should use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe, so that we may properly confess God, pray to God, and glorify God in all our words and works.

Q 100. 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?
A 100. Yes, indeed; No sin is greater or provokes God’s wrath more than blaspheming his name. That is why God commanded it to be punished with death.

In the same way that God’s majesty should not be emptied through false imagery and idols, God’s name should not be emptied through language unbecoming of His people.  More importantly, it should not happen that we use the name of God to deceive or allow sin, whether actively or passively.

For the Hebrew people, the name of God was never spoken.  They considered it so Holy that, rather than risking defacing it, they used other names that referred to God.  This action set apart God’s name for what it was meant for, namely worship.

For us, this commandment encourages intentionality and thoughtfulness in the use of our words.  We live in an age where words are a dime a dozen; we see them everywhere.  Far too often words lose their meaning because of it.  Remember the “polar vortex” of a couple winters ago?  It was voted, at the end of that year, as a word/phrase that should never be used again.  Apart from the fact that no one wanted a winter like that again anytime soon, the word was so over used that no one wanted to hear it spoken.

Other words, for us, are quite common place.  Far too often, those words are swear words or curse words that have taken a prominent place in our vocabulary.  Anytime something goes wrong, one of them just pops up.  It could be argued that these words are not taking God’s name in vain because they don’t use it.  However, one of the chief things that the third commandment points to is the honoring of God in how we speak.

When curse words flow freely from our lips, our hearts are not aligned with God’s love or His will for our lives.  We experience anger, even hatred toward whatever it is that is happening.  These things are not of God.  In fact, Scripture says that “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Our speech is an indicator of what is going on in our heart.

So, the third commandment is both reminding and encouraging us: honor God with your speech.  Do not take His name in vain, and be thoughtful of what comes out of your mouth.  It is an indicator of where your heart is at that moment… for good or for ill.

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