When We Enable Abusers in the Church We are Guilty of Breaking the Third Commandment
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)
What does it mean to take a name in vain? It means to lay claim to a name, let’s say, Australia, and insist that you are a citizen of that country when in fact you are not. You say you are “Australian.” But it is a lie. It is an empty claim. It is vain.
Christians take the name of the Lord. We call ourselves “Christians.” We say we are the children of God, and if in fact we are then this is a good and right thing to do. God really has, in Christ, adopted His people as His own and given us His name. We bear the name of the Lord.
However, if a person makes this claim falsely, as the hypocrite does, then they are grossly violating the third commandment. They are making an empty, false claim and they are using the holy name of God to do so. Every single time the hypocrite utters a “praise the Lord,” or a “Hallelujah” or prays “in Jesus’ name”, he is taking the name of the Lord in vain and is incurring more and more and more guilt before God. Even when such a person enters the church building on Sunday, he is taking the name of the Lord in vain. When he picks up his Bible or recites some verse of Scripture, he is breaking the third commandment.
“For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
Abusers who claim to be Christians are hypocrites. They are objects of God’s wrath. Their religion is repugnant and obnoxious to the Lord. They are like the Jews of Isaiah’s day:
Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations — I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:10-15)
Now, think this through. Not only does the abuser in his hypocrisy incur God’s wrath for this vain use of the holy name, but the entire church that is allowing this and enabling such a person to be in their midst is guilty. Yep. The whole lot of them, especially the leaders. The entirety of their worship, of their service, everything they do “in the name of the Lord,” is odious to God. They are coming before the Lord each week with the blood of victims on their hands, lifting them up in prayer, repeating their Amens and praise the Lords, and it is sickening to God. Listen to Isaiah again:
“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” (Isaiah 66:3-4)
See it? This means that the “worship” of hypocrites, of wicked abusers and their enabling allies, is just as horrid to God as if a person killed a man and dragged his dead corpse into the temple to offer as a sacrifice. It is as if they were bringing pigs’ blood or dead dogs or idol images to “offer” to God. THAT is how God views the “worship” of a local church that enables the wicked hypocrite.
Pretty serious stuff, wouldn’t you say?