The Ten Commandments are listed in Exodus 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy 5:7-21, and I think, even without Jesus making them even more intense, they are a huge challenge. Everyone fails daily at the first commandment. I know I do. There are many different “gods” that I hold before me; things that I put in front of God, thinking they give me more than I need in Him. I have carved images in the form of laptops, photo cameras, televisions, guitars, books, etc. I try to keep the Sabbath, but I think I need a lot more knowledge on what that really means for it be a holy day. I don’t think it is now. I try to honor my parents, but fail regularly by putting my own interest above theirs. OK, I have never murdered, but have committed adultery in my mind (sadly!). I do not steal literal objects, but do steal for instance from the boss’ time on occasion. I don’t think I bear false witness, but there are the occasional items in my neighbor’s house that I covet. No, anyone who thinks that the Ten Commandments are easy has not read them well. It’s just another example to show us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. And He has come and His name is Jesus! Hallelujah!!!
But with regards to not taking the name of the LORD your God in vain, I think there may be some confusion. I don’t think this has to do with use of words but with ambassadorship; how well do I represent Him in my daily life. It reminds me of Colossians 3:1-17. Maybe it’s good to dig into this a little bit.
Set Your Mind On Things Above (Col. 3:1-4)
The starting point is to keep seeking the things above, which we do by setting our mind on things above. A transformation of the mind is what’s needed. In other words, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phi. 3:10) and step away from appetite being my god because I set my mind on earthly things (Phi. 3:19). See also Colossians 2:8 and 2 Corinthians 10:4-6. Our mind needs to be fixed on heaven. To seek the things above is to be desire it, to have a passion for it. We need to develop a passion for Christ. Without it we won’t seek Him and keep setting our mind on earthly things as we are used to. I think it’s also interesting that it says that Christ is our life. This can be taken literally (John 11:25, Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:10), but also figuratively, where if something is your life then it is the main thing in your life, your passion. Think about a hobby or so. The best way to describe this is of course how Paul says it in Philippians 1:21, “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Putting Off The Old Self (Col. 3:5-9)
Now this is quite the list! Consider yourself dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed. Wow! What do these things lead to? Idolatry (i.e. the first commandment). Also put aside anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech, and lying. As if the first list wasn’t enough conviction! Couple of things stand out to me in this long list. Impurity makes me think of getting ourselves refined like gold until all the impurities are out of our character and God sees Himself reflected in us. Things like anger, wrath, malice and slander make me think about getting back at someone or reacting to wrong being done against you. What we need to realize in those circumstances is that Christ died for their sins as well, and He will set everything right at the end. In other words, leave it up Him to deal with injustice as He will do a much better job at it than we can, considering He is both just and the justifier.
Putting On The New Self (Col. 3:10-17)
Again Paul makes it clear that it starts with “being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of [Christ]” (Col. 3:10). This is quite a list as well! A heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other, and love. This list resembles the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. I think verses 15-17 are the perfect summary:
- Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart;
- Be thankful;
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly;
- Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the LORD Jesus;
- Give thanks through Jesus to the father;
The latter two is the ambassadorship and a reflection of Commandment #3. Even if you would things in accordance with this list but you don’t do it in the name of Jesus, then it is all in vain. In summary, by renewing our mind we are putting off the old self after which we can put on the new self and make ourselves available to God to really be His ambassadors. Wow, what a challenge!!
This all also reflects what Jesus says are the two greatest commandments:
- “You shall love the lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
- “You shall love your neighbor like yourself” (Matthew 22:39)