Previous Catechism Questions Found Here
Good morning brothers and sisters,
Well Trinity, it is catechism Wednesday and today we are considering question number 60 of Keach’s Catechism. It reads as follows:
Q. What is forbidden in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning and abusing of anything whereby God makes Himself known (Mal 1:6-7, 12; 2:2; 3:14).
My rendition of the answer:
A. The Third Commandment forbids all disrespect and abuse of anything by which God reveals himself.
In previous catechism questions and answers we noted that the name of God is a revelation of his very nature. An awareness of this should make us incredibly careful on how we use the divine name. The Third Commandment forbids us from using the name of God in a vain way. Today’s catechism answer includes the phrase “profaning and abusing of anything whereby God makes Himself known.” This statement informs and expands our understanding of what this commandment is prohibiting. The commandment requires us to exercise great respect for the name of God because any abuse of His name is a dishonoring of God Himself.[i] However, the proper and respectful use of the name of God is allowed in oaths, pledges, or prayers because it honors God, and proclaims his greatness. The Westminster Larger Catechism has an extensive answer to this question which outlines clearly from the Scriptures the improper use of any reference to God. [ii] I encourage you to read and consider it. It is included in the endnotes. How should we think through this answer?
The Scriptures cited in support of the catechism answer require us to honor and fear (respect) God. When we take the name of God upon our lips to support or strengthen anything that is deceptive, misleading, or false we are dishonoring the person of God. We are setting Him before others in support of what we know to be dishonest. We are essentially using God, who is truth, as our instrument to affirm what is untruth. This reveals our wicked hearts and is a great sin because we are bearing false witness against God. This reveals that we do not honor nor respect Him as our Heavenly Father and Master. Let’s consider another dimension to this commandment.
The careless or disrespectful use of the name of God in any way other than prescribed in the Bible is forbidden in this commandment. This would include cursing, coarse jesting, unnecessary usage, irreverent prayer, and sinful lifestyles. As professing Christians all these actions are a violation of this commandment because we are denying God His honor and respect. Let us remember that what we say about God must always be grounded in His revealed nature and character and to deny God His honor and respect through any speech or act is to use His name in vain. Well Trinity until our next appointed time be strong and courageous in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is your brother in Christ John a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scriptural support for Keach’s Catechism # 60
New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Scriptural evidence given to support the catechism answer.
6 “ ‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ 7 “You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’
“But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’
“If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,” says the Lord of hosts, “then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart.
“You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts?
Additional Scriptures from other catechism versions of Keach’s and additional catechisms.
34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
Scriptural evidence in context:
6 “ ‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ 7 “You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’ 8 “But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts. 9 “But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts. 10 “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you. 11 “For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord of hosts. 12 “But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’ 13 “You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,” says the Lord of hosts, “and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?” says the Lord. 14 “But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King,” says the Lord of hosts, “and My name is feared among the nations.”
1 “And now this commandment is for you, O priests. 2 “If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,” says the Lord of hosts, “then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart. 3 “Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it. 4 “Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi,” says the Lord of hosts. 5 “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. 6 “True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. 7 “For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 “But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of hosts. 9 “So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction.
33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
[i] 7. This command deals with the abuse of the divine name. swear Hebrew n-s-ʾ, literally “to take up,” is here an ellipsis for “to take upon the lips,” that is, “to utter” the divine name.30 falsely Hebrew la-shavʾ can mean this31 as well as “for nothing, in vain.”32 The ambiguities allow for the proscription of perjury by the principals in a lawsuit, swearing falsely,33 and the unnecessary or frivolous use of the divine Name. In Berakhot 33a the view is expressed that even the recitation of an unnecessary blessing is a transgression of this command. It should be noted that several biblical passages favor the use of God’s name in oath-taking when done in sincerity and truthfulness.34 Sarna, Nahum M. Exodus. The JPS Torah Commentary. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1991.
[ii] “The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the not using of God’s name as is required;d and the abuse of it in an ignorant,e vain,f irreverent, profane,g superstitious,h or wicked mentioning or otherwise using his titles, attributes,i ordinances,k or works,l by blasphemy,m perjury;n all sinful cursings,o oaths,p vows,q and lots;r violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful;s and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful;t murmuring and quarrelling at,v curious prying into,w and misapplying of God’s decreesx and providences;y misinterpreting,z misapplying,a or any way perverting the word, or any part of it,b to profane jests,c curious or unprofitable questions, vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines;d abusing it, the creatures, or any thing contained under the name of God, to charms,e or sinful lusts and practices;f the maligning,g scorning,h reviling,i or any wise opposing of God’s truth, grace, and ways;k making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends;l being ashamed of it,m or a shame to it, by unconformable,n unwise,o unfruitful,p and offensive walking,q or backsliding from it.r” Westminster Assembly. The Westminster Confession of Faith: Edinburgh Edition. Philadelphia: William S. Young, 1851.