This Week's Gospel Sermons
October - December 2011 Fall Series At Jackson Drive.
"MIRACLES OF JESUS"
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November 13, 2011
God’s Law and Man’s Obedience (2):
Consecrated to God
In trying to decide what is rightand what is wrong, we need to use the underlying principles that God has laid out. God gave, as the framework of His Law to the Israelites, the Ten Commandments. The first two commands deal with respect for God and His truth: (1) Have no other god before Me and (2) Do not make an idol for yourself. The next two are closely tied to that same idea, but very specifically show how our speech and actions relate to God—we are to be holy in both. Since God’s “old law” was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and God’s principles don’t change, let’s take a look at these next two of the Ten Commandments and see how these same principles, although not included as a codified list in the New Covenant, apply to us now. How can they help us determine right from wrong?
“You shall not misuse the name
of the Lord your God.”
Sometimes we hear the expression, “What’s in a name?” Some of us surely don’t treat our good names very well. To most of us, there is not much in a name except for noting from whom we are descended.
Over the centuries the Israelites had been so afraid of misusing God’s name, they would not say or write it, but would substitute other words. Jesus expressed the importance of the name of God when He gave instructions on how to pray: “After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9, ASV). It is also important to notice that the entirety of God (the Father, the Son, the Spirit) share in this “hallowedness” or holiness. Notice what the apostle Paul said about Jesus: “Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11, ASV).
Why is His name important? Names, especially Biblical names, tell us about the individual. Remember Barnabas (son of encouragement) or Abraham (father of many nations)? Their names meant something. God’s name does, too. The name of God is important because it stands for Him as He has revealed Himself to us. It stands for His character—goodness, righteousness, truthfulness. Many outstanding passages which remind us of this are to be found in the Psalms. One such passage states: “Not unto us, O Jehovah, not unto us, But unto thy name give glory, For thy lovingkindness, and for thy truth’s sake.” (Psalms 115:1, ASV). The name is also important because those who know the name are protected by it—not by some magical means, but by the God whose name it is. “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower; The righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10, ASV). Notice what Jesus said: “… Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are.” (John 17:11, ASV).
We are to do all in His name. When we are baptized, it is in the name of God: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:” (Matthew 28:19, ASV). “And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38, ASV). You see, it is through the name of God that we receive authority for obedience and righteous behavior.
To take the name in vain means to to make it empty or useless. There are a number of ways that we might make the name of God appear empty or useless. The most obvious way to misuse God’s name is to use profanity. To use the name of God as an exclamation of surprise, anger, or just as a common word or expression is a misuse of His name.
We sometimes fail to take into consideration that there is more to misusing the name of God than profanity. Those who would presumptuously use God’s name for their own ends are likewise misusing His name. The crusades, the inquisitions, and many more modern day persecutions were all done in the name of God. Along the same lines—although not persecution—are the money making schemes of “televangelists.” They have their “prayer-cloths” and other items, but who can forget one of the worst schemes ever—if you don’t send enough money, by the end of the month God will be “calling me home.” The men involved in these persecutions and money making schemes would not be caught cursing, but nevertheless have certainly misused the name of God by making it empty and useless in their lives.
It is not just profanity and presumption that are misuses, either. Any form of religious pretense, whether purposeful or ignorant, is also a misuse of His name. Note what Jesus said of those who claimed to be religious, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23, ASV). This condemnation is not just for those who disobey God by their “religious” actions, but is a general condemnation of those who refuse to do the will of the Father. We may keep “the apostles doctrine” and we may not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” but if we are dishonest, mistreat others, or are guilty of pettiness, division, and hostility in the church, we are dishonoring the name of God. We must actually “hallow” His name in all that we do.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”
The Sabbath day or seventh day of the week was a day of rest and devotion to God for the Israelites. In fact, “sabbath” means “rest.” Even before the giving of the Old Law, the use of a day when actions were different than that of other days was common. God Himself, after creation, set aside the seventh day as a day of cessation from His labors. Even though under the New Law, there is no Holy Day set aside, there is a principle of holiness at work.
There is a day which is different from all others—the first day of the week, the “Lord’s day.” Why is this day special? It is not because it is “Sunday.” It is special because of the events that have taken place in God’s plan for our benefit. Sunday is the day on which Christ rose from the dead (Matthew 28:1). Sunday is the day that the Holy Spirit first came upon the apostles and the day that the church was established and the first sermon preached (Acts 2). Sunday is the day on which Christians come together to partake of the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine as memorial of that sacrifice made by Jesus Christ (Acts 20:7; 1Corinthians 16:2).
There are many who pay no attention to the holiness of the events of the Lord’s Day. Perhaps even worse are those that have the attitude, “This is my only day off; today is for me.” Those who fail to honor God and to memorialize the sacrifice made on our behalf show no respect for God. We are to do all in our power to “come together” to partake of the Lord’s memorial supper. Those who choose to use the first day of the week as a day for recreation, socializing, travel, or business are instead belittling God. Those who choose to absent themselves altogether from the assemblies or those who come for a few minutes just so that they may “partake” and then leave, are most certainly in violation of eternal principles which God has established.
Are our mouths set for that which is holy? Do we show with our speech the proper respect for God? Are our attitudes set for that which is holy? Do we show with our actions the proper respect for God? Don’t make useless His name or His day, but show proper honor. The best way to use the name of God is proclaim obedience to that name.
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.