Lesson 3 -- second quarter 2009
March 15, 2009
© Copyright 2009
How careful am I not to profane God's Name?
Do I bear His Name as carefully (or as carelessly) as I bear my father's name?
What makes Him sanctified in me before the eyes of the unredeemed?
Do I want to be clean from my filthiness and from my idols?
How can I tell I have a heart of flesh and not one of stone?
What might God be doing in my life for His own sake?
For millennia, a given family name has been very important. Those who bear that name are generally expected to give a good account of themselves lest they bring reproach on the family name. I think of that as I consider part of Isaiah 43:1 -- "I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name." Having been chosen and redeemed by Him, ancient Israel bore His name. How often they brought reproach on themselves and on His name! That would surely qualify as one way of taking His name in vain. We too bear His name. Let's not do so in vain. Let's hold it fast so that He is not ashamed to be called our God.
"I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days..." (Revelation 2:13).
"But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:16).
The Almighty is holy, pure, and just. He is merciful, gracious, and longsuffering. He is generous, kind, and loving. Any and all good can be attributed to Him and originates from Him. In a small measure, that helps us understand why He is a jealous God, and very protective of His name. His reputation matters to Him very intensely. The Scriptures repeat this truth frequently; today's lesson underscores it.
How unfortunate that His people who bear His name can be so careless with His reputation! Oh, we wouldn't go out and deliberately launch a smear campaign against Him. And of course we wouldn't go around gossiping about Him and inventing any kind of slander about Him. God forbid! Even so, we Christians (just like the Israelites of old) have been guilty of besmirching His name. Do you know how we do such a dastardly thing?
I know we don't do it in the brazen, contemptible ways the Israelites did way back when. Oh no, of course not! We definitely have not deliberately profaned His name among the heathen like they did. So, how can I say we are still as guilty as they?
When we fail to live up to His character we are walking in the same sandals as those idolatrous, backsliding Israelites. When God's children do not reflect the character of their Father, they trash His reputation. It happened millennia ago; it happens today.
Don't let it happen to you, my friend! Guard God's reputation by guarding your own. Cherish God's reputation by following hard after His character. Plead with God daily to sharpen His image in you, bringing you just a little closer to a true reflection of who He is. Whenever you read in the Scriptures of one of His identifying characteristics, ask Him to make that one of your identifying character qualities as well.
To do this you will need to repudiate self and sin. You will need to strive for and follow after holiness, purity, justice, mercy, grace, patience, generosity, kindness, and love. (Read again the first three sentences of this page and you will see why I say that.)
Remember, as children of God, we take the name of Jesus with us. Let's treasure it. Let's handle it with prayer!
Perhaps you finished that first section with the discouraging realization that you can't do it. Good! You most definitely can't, and neither can I. But instead of getting downhearted about it, we ought to take courage. You see, God has done all that is necessary to equip us to please Him. He promises to take His failing, fallen people and restore them to complete cleanness before Him. Isn't that glorious?! And not only that, He also says, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26,27). I love that! He equips His people to please Him!
I challenge you to reread this portion of Ezekiel 36 and note how many times God emphasizes that the work is His. "I will," He says often!
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