The Blasphemy in Breaking the 3rd Commandment

How one is to under the practical theology behind the blasphemy in breaking the third commandment. Here is eight common ways in which one does so today

  • A common swear word (Leviticus 24:11)
  • Misusing His name in false worship (Psalm 24:4; Judges 17:2-3; Deuteronomy 12:4,8,13; John 14:6 & Acts 12)
  • Misusing the name of the Lord in careless worship (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2; Numbers 26:61; Deuteronomy 12:48 & John 14:14)
  • Using the name of the Lord to support a lie (Leviticus 19:12; 1Kings 13:18 & Acts 5)
  • Mocking God (Isaiah 52:5; 2 Samuel 12:14 & Romans 2:23-24)
  • Using the name of the Lord in idle oaths (Numbers 30:2 & Matthew 5:33-37)
  • Using the name of the Lord in complaint and unbelief (Malachi 3:13-14; Numbers 14:27 & 1Corinthians 10:10)
  • In mishandling His word (Example: Matthew 8:5-13 was a homosexual slave)

The issue behind these common actions among humanity is that the name of the LORD is carelessly thrown around, and His character is belittled.  But what is even worse is when the actions are commonly done in and by the church – that is, among so-called believers of the gospel.  If the believer of the gospel properly understood that the squandering of God’s name is to really say that their God is of no noteworthy value, the beginnings of apostasy would never exist; for doing this is the very beginning of leaving the central gospel truths, is making less of who God is, and using His name meaninglessly.  The way the believer talks about God – the way he talks about the One in whom he claims relationship with – can begin a pathway to apostasy.

To make light of His name, to make fun of His being, to speak loosely of His character, to joke about His Word, to laugh at His nature, to allow His name to be misused, to constantly gain a tolerance for the misuse of God Himself,  then claim that one is in right relationship with Him is thoroughly hypocritical.  Yet this is where it is most typical to begin falling away from Christ and leave the gospel, if one does not fully understand or know the importance of the third commandment.  They put to waste the LORD’s name, and make light of Him as if He is like any other human being. But how does that lead to apostasy? Simply put, it is this command that the LORD’s people are asked to keep, and yet they allow themselves to fall short, and in most cases allow the way of the culture to decide for them what is acceptable and what is not. To some it is just a name or perhaps just a little joke… no biggie, just something to swear by in order to sound right… make a promise in His name because that is what people do. It is these acts which draw the individual away from the gospel truths, and it is in these acts that the individual starts to leave that which God has asked of His people.

If one breaks the third commandment of the Decalogue, does that make him an apostate?  Is not an apostate one who departs from the gospel?  Though it does not make one an apostate directly, this here – the misuse of the LORD’s name – is where apostasy easily begins.  Disrespecting the LORD’s name is only the beginning of the act of apostatizing.  It is here where one loses their respect for the name of the LORD and begins their path of leaving either what they had claimed to believe, or what they were taught about the gospel. But how can the believer of the gospel keep from a constant breaking of the third commandment?

The believer must see and fully understand that the use of the LORD’s name a privilege for them to use.  Edwards speaks to this when dealing with the third commandment in relation to us today:

“It is our privilege to use the ‘name’ of our triune God-the Father, Son and Holy Spirit-both in worship and in witness. But we must use it carefully. There are few things more wonderful than to use the name of our God and Saviour-and nothing more dangerous than to abuse it.”[1]

This is how the Law is love to the believer: not that it is restricting us from the things our nature wants to do, but it lays the principles in which we can enjoy the gospel fully.  It is in this that one can continue to focus in happiness, being able to speak of God as his God.

You can read the full paper here. The Law and Apostasy


[1] Edwards, The Ten Commandments for Today, p. 115.

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5 Comments on “The Blasphemy in Breaking the 3rd Commandment”

  1. Kyle says:

    Mike,
    “If one breaks the third commandment of the Decalogue, does that make him an apostate? Is not an apostate one who departs from the gospel?”

    What’s your overriding law/gospel hermeneutic?

    -kb

  2. I know what the law/gospel hermeneutic is, but I am not sure to what you are asking, sorry.

  3. Kyle says:

    You define an apostate as one who departs from the gospel, yet your example is one departing from the law. The gospel, strictly defined, is not law (i.e. “Do This”). So I’m not making the connection in the quoted sentence.

  4. I see what you asking now. The statement above is not my definition of apostasy, nor do I say that is what apostasy is. The connection between Law and Gospel in the above sentence (and the lecture) was to show how one gradually walks down a path of constantly breaking the Law, in which leads to falling away from the Gospel, showing they were not believers, but apostates. I had already define apostasy 3 weeks prior to the class (and in chapter one of my thesis), and you can go back if you really want to read that post, I think two weeks ago. In the sentence above that you quoted, I am asking if one constantly breaks the 3rd commandment of the Law, is he then an apostate? I answer then showing that apostasy is a gospel related is, not primarily Law. However, the lecture I spent some time dealing with the issue “how does apostasy and Law relate.” My lecture was showing a pathway in which people today walk down constantly breaking the Law without repentance, which then shows then their true apostasy from the gospel.

    The best bet is for you to read chapter one of my thesis, then chapter three so that you understand what I am saying. This is only a page of chapter three that I enjoyed re reading this past week.

  5. Melinda says:

    Thanks for the post, Michael.

    Someone recently explained to me the difference between profanity and obscenity. He said “profanity” is what the Bible talks about in reference to blasphemy, sacrilege or saying God’s name (or an identifier such as “Lord” or “God”) in vain. “Obscenity” is foul, coarse, or socially unacceptable language (such as common swear words). And he said that Scripture makes it clear that profanity is the greater evil. Unfortunately, I know many Christians today seem oblivious to this and have adopted the practice of our culture which uses OMG as normal talk.

    I appreciate that I was taught this and am trying to teach my kids the same. I’m also trying to break them (and myself) of common substitutes like “Oh my word” or “Oh my stars.” (Do we have a Word… or stars? Who does?)

    This is an important topic that should be talked about more often.


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