The Apostle Peter tells us in I Peter 2:9 that the great purpose of our salvation is found in God and not in us, “that (we) should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called (us) out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Through the irresistible operations of the Holy Spirit we begin to fulfill this purpose and to learn in so doing that it is a wonderful privilege. In His law God gives us the opportunity to enjoy this privilege, not only in the witness of our mouths, but in our whole life. Such a shewing forth of God’s praises in a life of obedience is possible only because the law is His law, founded upon His glory and demanding that which is in harmony with His high glory. 

We have seen that the First Commandment of the law gives us the privilege of shewing forth His glory as the One True God by teaching us to reject all other gods and their worship, and to have and hold Him as our only Savior. In connection with the Second Commandment He reveals to us His transcendence and the unsearchable height of His glory, teaching us to worship Him in spirit and in truth by refraining from all wrong practices in our worship. Thus we learn to make a living confession that He Who is our God is “above all glory raised.” 

In the Third Commandment God calls us to praise His holiness by reminding us of the holiness of His Name and by instructing us in the proper use of His Name. By heeding this instruction we are able to worship Him in the beauty of holiness, giving to Him the glory due to His Name (Ps. 29:2Ps. 96:8-10). 

God’s Name, of which the Third Commandment speaks, is a “Name above all names.” Our names are little more than “labels” given us for the purpose of identification. They could just as well be replaced by numbers, and in our age of electronic marvels they often are, in government records and in business transactions. In Scripture there are many names given by God or by men which tell us something about the circumstances of a person’s birth or about his place and calling in God’s kingdom, but God’s Name is above them all. God’s Name is His revelation of Himself to us. In His Name He tells us Who He is that we may know Him, have fellowship with Him, and enjoy Him forever:

Because God is a Spirit “Whom no man hath seen, nor can see” we can know Him only through this revelation of His Name. This is beautifully illustrated in the last part of Exodus 33 and the first part of Exodus 34. There God promises to “show” Moses His glory in order that Moses and Israel may be assured of God’s favor. When God carries out this promise, we find that this does not mean that Moses actually “sees” God, for as God Himself says, “There shall no man see Me and live” (Ex. 33:20). Rather it means that the Lord proclaims to Him the Name of the Lord (Ex. 34:5-7). And even that is “seeing” only God’s “back parts” (Ex. 33:23), so great is His glory. 

In Christ God comes even nearer to His people, for in Christ that Word through which God reveals His Name becomes flesh and dwells among us, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). In Christ, therefore, we see God “face to face in the face of Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 13:12II Cor. 4:6). Even then, however, we are seeing only a reflection of God’s glory in the human nature of our Lord, for even in our flesh He is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Jesus sums up His whole ministry from this point of view in John 17:4-6: “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. . .I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world.” 

All this means that when we use God’s Name we are dealing with God Himself insofar as we are able to know Him. There are many passages of Scripture which impress this upon us. Scripture reminds us that God’s Name is our defense (Ps. 20:1), our help (Ps. 124:8), a strong tower to which we run and find safety (Prov. 18:10). By His Name we are preserved in the world (John 17:11). His Name is our trust (Ps. 33:21) and our glory (I Chronicles 16:10). We are exhorted to call upon His Name (Ps. 105:1) and our service to Him consists in walking in His Name (Mic. 4:5). Our salvation is nothing less than being baptized into His Name, that is, into the very fellowship of the Trinity (Matt. 28:19), and so too we are called by His Name (Is. 43:7Rev. 3:12). All of Scripture, therefore, has but one purpose, that of revealing to us the great Name of God. This, in itself, should make us very careful about the use of His Name. 

Scripture teaches us many different Names of God and all of them reveal His glory like the many facets of a diamond, but Scripture usually speaks of His “Name” in the singular. This is not td deny that He has many Names, nor is it to say that there is one Name more important than all the others; but it shows us that all these Names together reveal One God. In the baptism formula in Matthew 28:19 God reveals the “Names” that He has in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But all together they are still one Name, even as God Himself is One. Into that Name we are baptized by the precious blood of Jesus. 

In His different Names God reveals to us all His glory. We must always pay special attention to the particular Name of God that is used in any passage of Scripture, for the Spirit does not use them carelessly, but always to teach us something about God Himself as He speaks to us in each passage. Nevertheless, in all these Names, all together revealing the One great Name of God, the holiness of God stands on the foreground. We read again and again of His “holy Name” (Lev. 22:32I Chronicles 16:35, 29:16Ps. 103:1, 111:9Ezek. 36:20-33, etc.). Also, one of the most important Names of God in Scripture is the Name “Holy One” (II Kings 19:22,Job 6:10Ps. 71:22, 89:18, etc.). In fact, the prophecy of Isaiah has as one of its main themes the truth that God reveals Himself in the midst of His people as the Holy One. This is ultimately the reason for all the judgments which are threatened against Judah and also for the glorious salvation which is promised to her. 

In the sixth chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy God reveals Himself to Isaiah in order that Isaiah may bring that revelation to God’s people. In that revelation, as in every revelation of God’s Name, it is holiness which is seen first of all and above all. That holiness causes the Cherubim to cover their faces and their feet and to use His Name with the greatest possible reverence and fear as they praise the Lord God Almighty. It is that same holiness which leaves such a powerful mark upon the soul and conscience of Isaiah, so that he confesses his uncleanness and the uncleanness of Israel. 

To understand all this, we must understand what God’s holiness is. The basic idea of the word “holiness” in Scripture is the idea of separation. This is beautifully taught in Exodus 28. There Aaron and his sons are “separated” from the rest of Israel in their work and calling, in their place among the tribes and in their inheritance. Even their dress must be different td show that they are separated. The golden plate that Aaron, as Highpriest, wore upon his forehead explained that separation. He and his sons were “Holiness to the Lord” (Ex. 28:36). In this they represented the whole nation of Israel, but they had to be separated to show that Israel had no holiness in herself, but only through that holy, mediatorial office and work of the Aaronitic priesthood. 

Furthermore, we learn from this that holiness is not only separation from that which is unholy and profane, but also that it is separation unto the service of God. In II Corinthians 6:14-18 the truth that holiness involves separation from all that is unholy is taught in connection with our calling in the world. But such passages as I Peter 2:5, 9 and Leviticus 27:28-30 make it clear that holiness is also a positive idea. We must also be consecrated in holiness to God and to His service. Another example is the holiness of the Sabbath. As a holy day, the Sabbath is not only separated from all other days, but in a very special way it is consecrated to God. 

When we say that God is holy, we mean, then, first of all, that He is separated from all that is profane and sinful (Ps. 5:4-6Is. 59:2I John 1:5). That, of course, is the fundamental reason why He cannot justify the sinner apart from the way of blood atonement and satisfaction through the work of Christ. But in the second place, God’s holiness means that above all He is consecrated to Himself and to His own glory. In all His works He seeks, desires, and performs only that which brings glory to Him (Rom. 11:36I Pet. 2:9Rom. 9:22, 23). 

In His perfect holiness He gets Himself glory even in His counsel of reprobation and in His work of hardening and damnation (Rom. 9:17, 22, 23). Nevertheless, in His infinite mercy and goodness, He has chosen also to seek His glory in the salvation of His saints. For this purpose and for no other He elects them. To this end He sends His sob to redeem them. He begins to work out this purpose in them when He sends them His Holy Spirit that the high praises of God may fill their lips and their life. And He fulfils that purpose finally and gloriously when He gathers them into His glory (I Chronicles 16:35Ps. 106:47Is. 63:12-14Rev. 15:3, 4). 

He gives us the Third Commandment, therefore, to remind us that this only is the purpose of our redemption and calling and to show us that we fulfill this purpose especially in a faithful, holy, and reverent use of His Name. We must understand that the Third Commandment not only forbids all profanity and blasphemy, but that by it we are commanded and admonished to make use of His Name for His glory in the world. It is not enough to stop taking His Name “in vain.” We must also “take” His Name as our confession in every task and with every word. As those whose help is in the Name of the Lord we hear with joy God’s Word to us concerning the use of His Name: 

O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His Name: make known His deeds among the people. 

Sing unto Him, sing Psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wondrous works. 

Glory ye in His holy Name: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. 

(Ps. 105:1-3

This obedience separates us from the world which changes the glory and truth of God into a lie and consecrates us to Him a living sacrifice of gratitude.