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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 38

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Acts 17:29–30

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism 

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (for the Lord will not hold guiltless those who take his name in vain).

What does this mean?

Answer: We should fear and love God so that we do not use his name superstitiously or to curse, swear, lie, or deceive, but call upon him in every time of need, and worship him with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.

Pulling It Together: “God told me.” When people say this, they are taking the Lord’s name in vain. They say, “God told me to do this,” so that no one will be able to disagree with them. How could someone disagree when God said they should do whatever it is that they want to do! They may have a strong feeling that they ought to do something, but it remains just that: feeling—a mood resulting from a specific life situation. It does not mean God is telling them to do that something. God is not mood; he is not setting in life. Nor does he speak through mood or setting. God speaks to us through his Word. Applying a “thus saith the Lord” to our feelings is to give them a biblical authority. Saying “God told me” is taking the name of the Lord your God in vain. The Lord will not hold guiltless those who take his name in vain.

Prayer: Help me, Lord God, to honor and respect your holy name. Amen.

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