By Rev. Brian L. Kachelmeier
Children. Children tend to abuse and misuse names. They call each other names. They make fun of each other’s names. They desire to change the identity of another person with a different name. Such behavior is childish. It is the way of the world.
God. God gives to us the gift of His name. He desires to change our identity with His name. For example, the name of Yahweh was placed upon the people of God when the High Priest spoke the Word of God in benediction. The High Priest would say, “Yahweh bless you and keep you; Yahweh make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; Yahweh lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Notice that name of Yahweh is spoken three times testifying to three persons of the Blessed Holy Trinity. In the New Testament, we are given the gift of the name of the Lord our God in a unique way. In Holy Baptism, we are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We are adopted sons of God by grace. We are clothed with Christ the only-begotten Son of God. Because we are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts enabling us to cry out “Abba, Father!” The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Adoption who qualifies us to pray with Jesus saying, “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy name.”
As our Father is holy, we are to be holy in our conduct. We do not generate our own holiness. We receive our holiness from Jesus who alone is the Holy One. Jesus is the true High Priest. He mercifully makes atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. As our High Priest, He continues to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us, making us His holy people, a holy nation, a holy priesthood, and a holy temple. (1 Peter 2:5, 9)
Thus, we are called to offer spiritual sacrifices of prayers, praise, and thanksgiving. The baptized are consecrated as priests of God. Priests pray. We are learning to pray that God’s Kingdom would come to us and others. God answers our prayer “when He gives His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here on earth.” (Small Catechism: Lord’s Prayer, Second Petition) As those who name the name of the Lord, we are learning to depart from iniquity.
In the First Commandment, the people of God are warned about the temptation of the ancient serpent who seduces us into false worship. Now in the Second Commandment, the baptized are warned about the plan and purpose of the devil who desires to deceive us into misusing the name of the Lord our God. The evil one does not want God’s name to be kept holy in our lives. Thus, he tricks us into living lives contrary to God’s Word. Even worse, he joins his efforts by employing the world and our own sinful flesh to fight against us. He is the spirit who is at work in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2) who act like the corrupted culture. The will of the demonic foe is to entice us, trap us, and capture us in vice and other great shame. He wants to destroy our faith leaving us in doubt and despair. He does not want God’s Kingdom to come to us. He wishes that we would stay under the condemnation of the law because of our sin.
Therefore, we are taught to put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of Satan. (Ephesians 6:11) We are outfitted with the helmet of salvation and the shield of faith. (Ephesians 6:16-17) There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) In Christ, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we are beginning to learn to walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4) We live according to the Spirit and set our minds on the things of the Spirit which lead to life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6) We are armed with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17) Yet, we fight this spiritual battle by prayer and supplication in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Supplication. (Zechariah 12:10) We do not know what we ought to say when we pray; yet, the Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27)
Likewise, the Holy Spirit instructs us in the will of God as it is revealed in the Ten Commandments. Through God’s revealed will, we are taught to “call upon His name in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.” (Small Catechism: Second Commandment) Thus, to properly use God’s name is to petition God as our heavenly Father. As the children of God, we are called to lead holy lives according to the Word of God. “Anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us.” (Small Catechism: First Petition) Thus, we pray that He would forgive us, renew us, and lead us through His Word and Spirit. We petition our heavenly Father asking “that our hearts may be set to obey His commandments” (Matins: Collect for the Morning) and that we would put away the childish ways of the world.
Our Father desires to protect us from the evil one. God’s will is done in our lives "when He breaks and hinders the plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature.” (Small Catechism: Lord’s Prayer, Third Petition) God’s kingdom comes “when He gives us His Holy Spirit, so that, by His grace, we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.” (Small Catechism: Lord’s Prayer, 2nd Petition) God’s name is kept holy in our lives when we hear His Word in its truth and purity and begin to live holy lives according to it. (Small Catechism: Lord’s Prayer, First Petition) As His adopted sons by grace, we are maturing into our new identity in Christ. We are being formed into the image of His only-begotten Son. We should fear and love God so that we properly use His name. We are learning to continuously ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we may be able to resist temptation and to live a godly life following the example of Jesus.
Rev. Brian L. Kachelmeier serves as pastor at Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, Los Alamos, NM
Created: April 3rd, 2017