Puritan Catechism Question #47 - Which is the third commandment?
Answer - The third commandment is, "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" (Exodus 20:7).
Devotional Thoughts If we are to imitate God then we must have a proper view of Him. We must know who He is and what He is like. We must be familiar with His characteristics and what He has done. The Word of God is full of this kind of information, revealing to us who God is and all that He has done. In the last few days we have been working through Ephesians 5:18-21 where we are learning about walking in wisdom and being Spirit filled. If we do have a right view of God that is because of wisdom - remember, wisdom is having a right perspective. And honestly, unless we have a right view of God then nothing else we understand or strive to know can really be of any benefit to us.
If we are walking in wisdom then our proper view of God will be rooted in the fear of the Lord. Not just reverence and awe, but holy fear. Knowing God requires that we fear Him because if we do not fear Him then we have not met Him and do not know Him. Knowing God and doing His will should be our priority in this life, and since knowing Him and doing His will is indeed rooted in fearing Him, then what exactly is the fear of God? What does it mean to fear the Lord?
Today we will see that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of knowledge, to hate evil, and a fountain of life and prolongs days.
The Beginning of Wisdom - Psalm 111:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.
The fear of God, we are told in the Scriptures, is the beginning of wisdom. This means that if we do not fear God then we cannot be wise, for all true wisdom has its beginning, its birth, in a proper view of God. How can our perspective on anything be right if we do not have a right view of God? In fact, to have a wrong view of God is to be an idolater and to serve and worship idols in fact or in fiction is to be foolish.
To see God as He is and to worship Him in the beauty of holiness is a natural spiritual response to knowing and believing the truth about God. He is awesome in power and might. He is sovereign, majestic, King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Almighty. He is all knowing, all powerful, and everywhere present. He inhabits eternity and yet humbles Himself to look into the affairs of heaven and even beyond that condescended to the point that He became a Man and died for men as a criminal on a cross!
He can destroy the body and soul in hell. He created all that is by the power of His Word. He holds the whole of creation together. And without Him we can do nothing but with Him all things are possible. Seeing Him for who He is in the glory of perfection and absolute holiness is the beginning of having a right perspective, of wisdom. The truth is, if we are wrong about God then nothing else we think, say, or do really matters much, does it?
The Beginning of Knowledge – Prov. 1:7; 2:5
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
Not only does the fear of the Lord lead us into a right perspective, but we see here that the fear of the Lord is also the beginning of knowledge. If we really want to know the truth then we must fear God. The Bible speaks of those who are ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. The reason for their failure is that they do not have a right view of God. They are said to be above all else lovers of themselves (2 Tim 3:1-9). They live for self. They do all that that do for themselves, even doing these things in the name of God. But the truth is that they do not know God and they do not fear God, for when we fear God we see that true knowledge flows from that relationship of faith.
The highest knowledge is not a knowledge that puffs up or that is merely intellectual. It is the knowledge of Christ. When we fear the Lord we gain the knowledge of Christ. This is our aim, to know Him and make Him known (John 17:3). And yet, if we are focused on self we will only continue in our depravity, no matter how nicely we try to dress it up.
Hating Evil – Prov. 8:13
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
Next we see that the Bible tells us that to fear God is to hate evil. If we love evil, if we chase after that which will harm us, if we live from wickedness to wickedness then we do not fear God. Fearing God is seeing that if we have a choice between our walk with Him and with sin, we chose Him. We do so not only because of the consequences of sin but we do so because we love Him and desire to obey Him. Do we hunger and thirst for being right with God to the point that we truly do loathe sin and hate evil?
Often we fail to fear the Lord and this is evidenced by our willingness to make jokes about sin or to take sin lightly. We think there is no consequence or that we do not harm others when we sin. But as Pastor Lance Johnson reminded us yesterday, when we sin it affects the Body of Christ. When we fall into sin and unholiness and we refuse to get back up and move forward we display an utter lack of the fear of God.
The fear of God leaves no room for pride, arrogance, or perversion. Interestingly, when we become proud and arrogant often we do think, say, and do perverse things. we take our eyes off of Christ and begin to live for self. How many scandals, how many failures, how many influential "Christian leaders" have to fall for us to see that doctrine affects living and as soon as we begin to believe the good things others say about us the more sure our defeat? Pride goes before destruction and we live in a day where wisdom is scarce, and the fear of God absent from our pulpits and our homes. Seriously - we do not need famous Christian speakers and influential preachers and ministers who rub elbows with the rich and famous. We need shepherds who forsake all that this world has to offer in order to simply lead and feed and protect God's flock. Shepherds who hate evil and stand against it in their lives, their families, and the church of Jesus Christ.
The Fountain of Life and Prolonged Days – Prov. 14:27; 10:27
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.
The fear of the LORD prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.
The fear of the Lord leads to life, to prolonged days, and ultimately to eternal life! Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding promote life. So many today even in the church spend so much time chasing youthfulness that we miss the truth that it is the fear of God that is a fountain of life.
The church is fully embracing the ungodly views of the world that we must look and feel young and healthy in order to be happy and content. Paul stated that in whatever state he was he was to be content. Contentment is not based on the flesh! And dressing the flesh up and covering it with paint does not stop death or the affects of aging. We have become so vain that we focus entirely upon the outward appearance actively trying to deceive others into thinking we are younger than we really are. We color our hair, have cosmetic mutilation, I mean surgery, we have implants for all sorts of body parts and even hair, and we are simply discontent and sinfully selfish as we try to look and feel our best all the while missing the point that true life and contentment and joy comes from the fear of God.
We are so vain and so quick to indulge self that the truth about the fear of God sounds strange to us. Of course we believe we are serving God, but if we do not fear Him and depend upon Him for life and every blessing He gives us then we find that we have wasted our lives here and now and missed laying up treasures in heaven forever. What profit is it to gain the whole world, the world's approval, and the world's admiration if in the process we lose ourselves and our souls?
Too often we think so highly of ourselves that instead of fearing God we fear discomfort or hardship. Every threat and every moment of suffering gives us an opportunity to prove that we fear God more than we fear men and that we love God more than we love ourselves.
Do you fear the Lord? If not, you are foolish, ignorant, undiscerning, and you have no hope of life here or in the life to come.
Do you fear the Lord? If so, you have by His grace found the beginning of wisdom, the source of true knowledge, the motivation for hating evil, and the secret to a long life of contentment.
Do you fear the Lord?
Links for Further Study (links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)