Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Second Commandment
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. (Small Catechism: Second Commandment)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Second Commandment usually gets reduced to a rule against saying “damn” when you stub your toe or it gets twisted around into talk about ouija boards because of that little line regarding satanic arts in the catechism. Really, it’s far more profound. God’s Name has great power, and He gives it to you.
The more powerful a thing is, the more rules get attached to it. There aren’t a lot of laws surrounding feathers, but fireworks, cars, and guns have all kinds of regulations. It’s not that any of those things are inherently evil. Some are just powerful enough that when used for good, great good can come from it, but when used for evil, great evil comes, too. God’s Name is so powerful that He demands we don’t misuse it, because sin breaks stuff, and God’s Name is potent enough to cause great harm when used for evil.
The chief way this happens is when we lie about who He is. We attach His Name to things that aren’t true. That’s called false doctrine. A doctrine is just a truth. We attach God’s Name to falsehood, and then the way, the truth, gets diminished. Jesus, who calls Himself both of these things, gets diminished. Pray that it never happens, because that would mean life gets diminished, too. False doctrine is dangerous because it directs people to look for God where He’s never promised to be. It points people away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It isn’t just, “What if God actually damned everything you asked Him to when you were angry?”, it’s “What if He wanted to see sin punished apart from the Cross? What if we thought we were closer to Him by our works? What if we attached His Name to lies so people lost trust in His promises?”
He doesn’t say we shouldn’t use His Name. The Father teaches you His identity specifically so that you’ll call upon Him in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. He teaches you to know Him through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. He reveals Himself in true doctrine through His Word by the Holy Spirit. He gives us His identity so that we would look to Jesus and find forgiveness, life, and salvation in Him and His gifts. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
“Do not My holy name disgrace, Do not My Word of truth debase. Praise only that as good and true Which I Myself say and do.” Have mercy, Lord! (“These are the Holy Ten Commands” LSB 581, st.3)
-Rev. Harrison Goodman is content executive for Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Discover new insights from each line of the Psalms in Engaging the Psalms: A Guide for Reflection and Prayer. Read, repeat, and return to the Lord as you walk through all 150 Psalms. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.