Day 16

The Ten Commandments

Exodus 19:1-25, Exodus 20:1-21, John 1:14-17, Hebrews 8:7-13

When I was a kid, I thought the command to not take the name of the Lord in vain was about cussing. It isn’t. It’s about marriage.

God’s commands are never the arbitrary rules of a temperamental old man in the sky who likes things a particular way. They are always relational. This is seen in the way God describes His relationship with His people by saying, “I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Ex 19:4). God wants a relationship with His people, and every command He gives points to this.

God’s commands are not given to stifle us, but to lead us into the life we were meant to know —one of drawing close to Him. Since we’re all law-breakers, they are also given to awaken our worship of Christ who kept the Law perfectly for us.

It’s easy to reduce God’s commands to a list of rules, but they are so much more than that. They are not just a call out, but a call in. For every negative command, there is a positive one implied. For example, when God says “have no other gods before me,” He’s saying, “You were made to worship Me alone. Have Me as your only hope and treasure in this life.” And when He says, “You shall not take my name in vain,” what lies beneath that prohibition is the invitation to take His name as our own. He is saying, “Take my name.”

The Ten Commandments are not simply negative statements about what we’re not to do. They are incredibly positive statements as well, centered on who we are called to be and the life we were intended to know and enjoy forever. These commands are about what it means that God has called us as His people to take His name.  

God commands us to take His name as our own—to know ourselves as His people and to be known as His people. If you are a Christian, there is only one way you can take up the name of Christ. Take it in earnest, with everything you have and are. We must not take it insincerely, pretending we deserve it. But if we are Christians, we must take it up as our name—as the most important name we could be known by. His name is the name we will be known by for all eternity: Christ’s beloved.

This is who you are if you are a Christian. So take the name of the Lord. Don’t take it in vain, but in earnest, because He has carried you on eagles wings, brought you to Himself, and made you His own.

Written by Russ Ramsey

Post Comments (4)

4 thoughts on "The Ten Commandments"

  1. R. N. says:

    As someone fortunate enough to visit Egypt and Mount Sinai, I gained a different perspective on Exodus. Egypt was an amazing place when the Hebrews were there. Some, if not all, of the Pyramids were built, the Egyptians has amazing sculptures and art work, cities, agriculture, everything we think of when we think of civilization. Mount Sinai, if it was in the traditional location or not, is a remote, bleak, inhospitable wasteland. Hard terrain, no lush fields, not a place one might think an all-powerful God would reveal himself. But this is where He chooses to do it and to give his commands to the people. And if we treat the 10 commandments as a model for the whole law, we see that God spends far more time explaining what we should do than what we should not.

  2. Aaron Adkisson says:

    Wow, I have never thought about the Ten Commandments in this way. Like ever. Turning the commandments into their positive aspects has changed the way I view a lot of things. I have always known that God is enough, God is our hope and protection. But the Ten Commandments enforces that!

  3. Matt Baker says:

    “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

    I’ve never thought about not taking the Lord’s name in vain as a call to honestly and earnestly declare yourself a Christian before, but it is very clear after reading this devotional. God wants us to boast in him and to do so truly, not as a way of confirming to society or a way to look good to those around us. We need to take his name as our own, to be known as followers of Christ and to do so truly from our hearts.

  4. Bill Wilson says:

    This was a good word. I knew that the application of “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain” meant that since we are known as “Christians,” we should act as Christ would and not disgrace His name. But I’d never considered it in the positive manner of “Take My name” as in marriage. When we enter that new covenant with God through Jesus, it is a bond mysteriously like marriage – it is a new relationship. Then the command of “Take My name” and don’t do it in vain, but with full conviction and all the responsibility and benefits of that action. It is a positive command to enter into relationship with God and live like He desires as people who have taken His name. May this be how I am known.

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