The Chief Part of our Thankfulness: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 45


  1. Why is prayer necessary for Christians?

Because it is the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us,1 and because God will give His grace and Holy Spirit only to those who earnestly and without ceasing ask them of Him, and render thanks unto Him for them.2

[1] Ps. 50:14–15. [2] Matt. 7:7–8; Lk. 11:9–10, 13; Matt. 13:12; *Eph. 6:18.

  1. What belongs to such prayer which is acceptable to God and which He will hear?

First, that with our whole heart1 we call only upon the one true God, who has revealed Himself to us in His Word,2 for all that He has commanded us to ask of Him;3 second, that we thoroughly know our need and misery,4 so as to humble ourselves in the presence of His divine majesty;5 third, that we be firmly assured6 that notwithstanding our unworthiness, He will, for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our prayer,7 as He has promised us in His Word.8

[1] Jn. 4:22–24. [2] Rom. 8:26; 1 Jn. 5:14. [3] Ps. 27:8. [4] 2 Chron. 20:12. [5] Ps. 2:10; 34:18; Isa. 66:2. [6] Rom. 10:14; Jas. 1:6. [7] Jn. 14:13–16; Dan. 9:17–18. [8] Matt. 7:8; Ps. 143:1; *Lk. 18:13.

  1. What has God commanded us to ask of Him?

All things necessary for soul and body,1 which Christ our Lord comprised in the prayer which He Himself taught us.

[1] Jas. 1:17. Matt. 6:33. *1 Pet. 5:7. *Phil. 4:6.


The Chief Part of our Thankfulness

When I was younger, I never really understood the purpose of thank you cards.  It seemed kind of pointless.  How would I improve someone else’s lot in life by taking the time to write a card acknowledging that they had given me something or done something for me?  I certainly enjoyed it when somebody acknowledged something I had done for them, but empathy was not my strong suit as a young man, and I did not make the obvious connection.

Giving thanks to God is tremendously important precisely because there’s nothing we can do to improve His welfare.  He doesn’t need anything from us.  But He desires to be glorified for who He is, and He made us for that purpose.  Since the cattle on a thousand hills are His, if we are to respond to what He has done for us, it can only be with thanksgiving and praise.

We are made in His image, to reflect what He is like, and the good feeling we get when someone acknowledges something nice we did for them gives us a hint into God’s desire to be glorified.  The human desire for praise is distorted by sin and easily becomes a bottomless pit of narcissistic need, but the desire to be thanked for things we have done is not of itself sinful, or else it would be sinful to send thank you cards.  It is not sinful of itself because it reflects God’s own nature.

Our thanks to others and our desire for thanks ourselves should always be limited by our creatureliness.  If I do something nice for someone else, it’s nice to be thanked for that, but all glory and credit belongs to Him, even for my own good works.  Our thankfulness to God is unlimited, for “of Him and through Him and to Him are all things.”  (Rom. 11:36)  The conclusion we should draw from that truth is the same as the one Paul does—“to whom be glory forever and ever, amen.”

Prayer is the main way we express our thankfulness to Him (q. 116), and thankfulness should occupy the bulk of our prayer.  Even when we are making petitions in prayer, it should be with this thankful heart that trusts God and acknowledges all the good that He does, past and future. Prayer is primarily about thanksgiving, not about getting what we want from God.  The thankful motivation to prayer, therefore, changes not only the percentage of time we spend in prayer asking for things but also the way we ask for things when we do—with contentment, with trust, with the assurance that even if God does not give us the specific thing we ask for, He will still do good for us.

A true prayer therefore reflects the truth of who God is and what He has done (q. 117).  It will flow out of an assurance of His goodness and His blessings in one’s life, most specifically the blessing of the salvation of Jesus Christ.  It will flow out of faith, out of belief in the gospel.  If I pray in doubt, not certain whether God will do good for me, I am calling God a liar since He has repeatedly promise to take care of His people and bless them immensely (Matt. 7:7-11, for example).  Such a prayer has no right to expect any answer though God often graciously answers anyway.  “Let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:7)  True faith in Christ will lead us to boldly come to the throne of grace to make our petitions, knowing that we have no right to make any request of God of ourselves, but every right in Christ.

A prayer which flows out of a right knowledge of God will include petitions to God for everything we need and want since God is sovereign over all and all good things come from Him.  We should learn to put all our trust in God, not only for what happens after we die, but for every circumstance of our lives (q. 118).  He is sovereign over the weather, over our health, over our finances and everything else.  While God makes the rain to fall on the just and on the unjust, our reaction should not be complacency about the falling rain, but to thank Him and petition Him for what we need, knowing that eventually all who fail to acknowledge His blessings in thanksgiving will lose those blessings.  The rain will not continue to fall on the unjust forever, as the rich man in Luke 16:24 could tell you.

Learning to pray better is one of the chief needs of every Christian.  I find it to be the case that the more mature a Christian is, the more he or she will typically bemoan the state of his or her prayer life.  The Heidelberg does an excellent job of unpacking the subject of prayer, using the prayer which Jesus taught us as its guide, and which will occupy the remainder of the Catechism.  The subject of prayer most suitably ends the Catechism and most appropriately follows the exposition of the Law, since the natural question arising from an understanding of the Law (“How can I do that?”) is answered best by prayer.  Through prayer, God gives us every good gift, including a greater and greater conformity to the image of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Learning How to Want: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 44


  1. What does the tenth commandment require?

That not even the least inclination or thought against any commandment of God ever enter our heart, but that with our whole heart we continually hate all sin and take pleasure in all righteousness.1

[1] Rom. 7:7–8; *Prov. 4:23; *Jas. 1:14–15; *Matt. 15:11, 19–20.

  1. Can those who are converted to God keep these commandments perfectly?

No, but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of such obedience,1 yet so that with earnest purpose they begin to live not only according to some, but according to all the commandments of God.2

[1] 1 Jn. 1:8–10; Rom. 7:14–15; Eccl. 7:20. [2] Rom. 7:22; Jas. 2:10–11; *Job 9:2–3; *Ps. 19:13.

  1. Why then does God so strictly enjoin the Ten Commandments upon us, since in this life no one can keep them?

First, that as long as we live we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature,1 and so the more earnestly seek forgiveness of sins and righteousness in Christ;2 second, that without ceasing we diligently ask God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we be renewed more and more after the image of God, until we attain the goal of perfection after this life.3

[1] 1 Jn. 1:9; Ps. 32:5. [2] Rom. 7:24–25. [3] 1 Cor. 9:24–25; Phil. 3:12–14; *Matt. 5:6; *Ps. 51:12.


Learning How to Want

A great deal could be said on the subject of covetousness.  The Catechism focuses on the internalization of the Law, that the commandment requires internal as well as external obedience.  What is left to some degree unsaid, though perhaps implied, is that the commandment specifically addresses desire; not merely the desire to break God’s law, but specifically the desire for my neighbor’s things.  What does it mean to “covet”?  Does it have the meaning of inordinate desire?  The word chamad often is used in a positive sense, of desiring good things, like in Psalm 19:10 when it refers to desiring the judgments of God more than gold or honey.

Then is desire itself bad?  Should we be like Buddhists who strive to empty themselves of desire as the source of all suffering?  The commandment doesn’t say that either.  It says specifically that I am not to desire my neighbor’s things; his house (speaking broadly of office, status, place in life, not merely the building he lives in), wife, servants, or in fact anything that belongs to him.

The desire for what others have is a source of great and endless misery.  It is one thing to want a better car because the one I have now is unreliable or not big enough for my family.  It is another thing when I want another car because I see the car my neighbor is driving and how much nicer it is than mine.  The perception of how a neighbor’s husband provides for his family and treats his wife has fueled a great deal of discontent in marriages, as has comparisons between the way your neighbor’s wife looks when she has her makeup on and the way your own wife looks when she first gets out of bed.  Advertisers are expert at this, at creating desire based on dissatisfaction and covetousness, by teaching me not only what to want but how to want.  People covet a great many things- someone else’s appearance, popularity, reputation, job, family, or really anything at all in which people find joy, safety, and significance.

James says that this lust that wars within us is the source of wars and fights (James 4).  I covet the wife my neighbor has, so it makes me angry at my own wife for not being that way.  Or I covet the promotion that someone else got at work, which makes me angry at him, at the unfair boss, at the coworker whose incompetence is holding me back, or my kids whose disobedience at home meant I wasn’t at full performance at work.  I will look anywhere for the source of my discontent and anger except inside myself, for it is a humiliating thing to recognize that it is my own covetousness which causes me the problem.  If I had the house or the car or the spouse I have right now, and nobody I knew had one that appeared to be better, then I would have no discontent over it, which means that my actual discontent has nothing to do with what I have, but with my desires for what others have, fuel all sorts of sin against others- murder, adultery, theft, and slander.

But if instead we recognize that God is good, and God will take care of us and bless us immensely in the future life, then we can put away this pointless agitation about people’s different stations and situations in this life.  These differences will always exist, and no amount of effort on my part or social engineering by the government is ever going to make them go away.  People’s relative stations and gifts in this life have nothing at all to do with their worth or value in God’s eyes.  He puts people where He puts them for His own mysterious plans.  He delights to raise up and cast down, always to glorify Himself.  But we can trust our good and benevolent God, who has a reason for all He does in this life, giving one a great deal and another only a little.  God knows what we need and what He wills to accomplish in this life through us, so we should trust where God has put us, be faithful with what He has given us, take advantage when opportunities come to improve our lot in life but not be driven by it.  We should be driven instead by our desire for Christ, to seek first the kingdom of God, knowing that every good thing will certainly come with it.

When we understand how deep-rooted our sin problem is, then we will understand the true need we have for a Savior (questions 114, 115).  No amount of willpower is ever going to give us the ability to change the very way we desire.  The law shows us how dependent we are for forgiveness.  It will secondarily drive us to recognize our need for the Spirit of God to work on us, to change the way we think and the way we want, to open our eyes to the vanity of this world and its temptations and instead to show us the solid reality of our very blessed state in Christ.  We can then begin to learn to rest content with what the Lord has given us, seek to be faithful where we are right now, and trust Him to give us every good thing in His time.  No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).

All are welcome at Christ Reformed Church!  We worship at 10 AM Sunday morning at 600 W. 21st St, in College Heights Baptist’s old sanctuary.

God’s Sovereignty, God’s Truth: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 43

112. What does the ninth commandment require?
That I bear false witness against no one,1 twist no one’s words,2 be
no backbiter or slanderer,3 join in condemning no one unheard or
rashly;4 but that on pain of God’s heavy wrath, I avoid all lying
and deceit5 as the very works of the devil;6 and that in matters of
judgment and justice and in all other affairs, I love, speak honestly,
and confess the truth;7 also, insofar as I can, defend and promote
my neighbor’s good name.8
[1] Prov. 19:5, 9. [2] Ps. 15:3. [3] Rom. 1:28–30. [4] Matt. 7:1–2. Lk. 6:37. [5] Jn. 8:44.
[6] Prov. 12:22; 13:5. [7] 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:25. [8] 1 Pet. 4:8; *Jn. 7:24, 51; *1 Pet. 2:21,
23; *Col. 4:6; *1 Pet 3:9.

God’s Sovereignty, God’s Truth
Understanding the gravity of the ninth commandment requires recognizing that we are spiritual beings made in God’s image. God is a God of truth. He hates lies as the very work of the devil. When we lie, we attack the image of God and the sovereign rule of God over the universe.

A lie is an attempt to make reality different than what it is. If I tell someone else that I got a PhD from Harvard when I didn’t, I am trying to make my world one in which it is true, to some degree, that I got that PhD. If people think I did, then they will treat me that way. They will respect me. It will open career prospects. In all of these ways I can get many of the benefits of the PhD without actually doing it. I would get more benefits from actually having the PhD, but just convincing people that I did will get me many of those benefits with a whole lot less work. Doing this, then, is an attack on God’s sovereign rule of the universe, the reflection of a belief that I can make reality what I want it to be with my words, since in God’s universe I do not have the PhD at all. Likewise, if I tear someone else down and destroy their reputation with my words, then I can recreate a reality where the object of my envy and hatred is treated like someone who is what I say he is, rather than what he actually is. To some degree, I can mold reality according to my desires with the way that I talk about people. A man convicted and executed for murder based on perjured testimony is just as dead as one convicted rightfully.

When I lie about someone else, I attack their very nature. Because we are spiritual beings, lying about someone is every bit as real an assault as a punch in the nose. In fact, physical attacks are often much less damaging and easier to recover from than spiritual attacks. We all like to think we don’t care much about what other people think about us, but anyone who has been slandered knows this not to be the case. Lies about us hurt a great deal.

A man’s reputation is vital to him living in a community. What people think about you affects the way they interact with you at every level. It affects people’s willingness to do business with you, to employ you, to socialize with you. All of the vital functions of a community depend on what we think about others, and slandering others, even in the most seemingly harmless ways, can work to isolate and cut off a man from his community. A man’s reputation is vital to his life, and attacking his reputation is therefore a great sin.

But God is sovereign, and will not permit us to kick Him off the throne of the universe. He is sovereign; He is in control. When we attempt to distort reality with our lies, we will inevitably fail. God will not give His glory to another, and He will not turn the government of the universe over to us. Part of trusting God means accepting what is, and knowing that He is the judge and He will right all the wrongs, vengeance belongs to Him, and it’s not our job to make sure everyone knows what a jerk some other person is.

The Christian will therefore embrace forgiveness in Christ and repent of his sin of lying and slander. We can trust Christ completely to forgive us, to care for us, to preserve us, and to bless us richly and immensely. Because of that, we can stop trying to control the world around us, stop trying to dictate the way people perceive us and the way others are perceived. We can simply speak the truth, commit ourselves to loving others, being humble in our opinions of ourselves and others, and know that God will reveal all things in the end. If there is a wicked person in our lives, we should not fear that they are getting away with something. God always reveals the truth.

The cause of justice or the protection of the community does require speaking up on occasion. It is an evil thing to do to stay silent at the oppression of the weak and poor, the widow and orphan. But we should be sure we actually know that, not just that we suspect it or have heard about it from someone else. The value of reputation should drive us to be extremely cautious with other people’s good names. Just as we rightly condemn a man who drives a car while drunk (even if he doesn’t happen to get in a wreck that time) for being careless with the lives and property of others, so too we should never handle other people’s reputations carelessly. If we treasure the truth highly, as God does, then we will sooner keep silent than risk speaking lies.

A big part of being saved in Christ means that, in the context of forgiveness and assurance of salvation, we can begin to learn what it means to be fully human, and living in community is a huge part of the definition. Learning to guard each other’s reputations, to highly treasure the truth in all situations, and to trust God’s sovereign control of the world is all part of being conformed to the image of Christ, becoming what He intends for us to be.

Stealing the Lives and Labor of Others: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 42


  1. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

God forbids not only such theft1 and robbery2 as are punished by the government, but God views as theft also all wicked tricks and devices, whereby we seek to get our neighbor’s goods, whether by force or by deceit,3 such as unjust weights,4 lengths, measures,5 goods, coins, usury,6 or by any means forbidden of God; also all covetousness7 and the misuse and waste of His gifts.8

[1] 1 Cor. 6:10. [2] 1 Cor. 5:10. [3] Lk. 3:14; 1 Thess. 4:6. [4] Prov. 11:1; 16:11. [5] Ezek. 45:9–10. Deut. 25:13–15. [6] Ps. 15:5; Lk. 6:35. [7] 1 Cor. 6:10. [8] Prov. 5:10; *1 Tim. 6:10; *Jn. 6:12.

  1. But what does God require of you in this commandment?

That I further my neighbor’s good where I can and may, deal with him as I would have others deal with me,1 and labor faithfully, so that I may be able to help the poor in their need.2

[1] Matt. 7:12. [2] Eph. 4:28; *Phil. 2:4; *Gen. 3:19; *1 Tim. 6:6–7.

Stealing the Lives and Labor of Others

All violations of the Ten Commandments in their most aggravated form carry the death penalty.  This includes the Eighth.  The highest form of theft is stealing a man, enslaving him for one’s own benefit or to sell to others.  Biblically sanctioned slavery was a completely different thing than what most people conceive of as slavery, really more like a long-term economic contract entered into by choice or through one’s actions than a situation where one man has another as his property to do with as he pleases.

All forms of stealing are essentially differing degrees of enslaving.  If I smash a man’s car window to steal his phone off the seat, costing him $1000 from the loss of the window and the phone, then essentially I have forced the man to work for the time required for him to earn $1000, for my benefit instead of his.  It is important that we talk about things in ways that do not obscure the real nature of what is going on; whether or not he can “afford” the $1000 is completely beside the point.  What is relevant is that it is deeply immoral for me to force a man against his will to work for my benefit.  In doing so, I make my life and its comforts more important than his.  Property is necessary to life, so this issue is not a minor one.

There are lots of forms of theft.  Some of them are obvious, and are generally punished by civil government, like physically breaking into a man’s house and taking his things.  But many forms of theft, as the Catechism says, are more subtle.   Some of these tricks might even be legal.  It is difficult for a government to pass laws that encompass all the ways one man might steal from another, and sadly governments have often used their own power to transfer wealth from those who oppose the government to those who support it.  But the deceptive schemes we use to fool one another and ourselves about the nature of what we are doing will not fool God, and He is the One we really need to be concerned with.  In a nutshell, any way that I compel another to part unwillingly with his goods, for my benefit, whether I use physical force, political power, or deceit, to do so, is theft.  The right ways to gain wealth are through hard work, through mutually beneficial free exchange or through freely offered gifts.

Common modes of theft today include deceptive advertising, misrepresenting products, and failing to fulfill contracts.  If a worker on a job malingers and doesn’t give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, it is another form of theft.  Governmental manipulation of currency and using taxpayer dollars for their own benefit is a very common form of theft that plagues us in this country.  When the funds of the nation or of a state as a whole are steered to the benefit of particular industries or constituencies, the reality is that some people are being forced to work for the benefit of others.  Just because the harm is distributed to many people so that they mostly don’t notice or care enough to do something about it does not change the moral nature of what is happening.  Dressing this up in the language of compassion or economic development doesn’t make it something different.

In a deeper sense, the Catechism reminds us at the end of question 110 (“the misuse and waste of His gifts”) that what we have did not originate with us.  All that we have is given to us by God.  He gave it to us in order to serve Him with it, like the master giving his servants different amounts of wealth to labor on his behalf while he was gone.  So, if I waste and misuse His gifts to me, then I am stealing from God who gave those gifts to me and from those whom I could and should have helped with those gifts.  If I waste my money, I am stealing from the deserving poor who should have been relieved by my wealth.  If I waste my time, I am stealing from my family and community who could have been enriched by my labors.  If I fail to use and develop my spiritual gifts, I am stealing from my church community who is in need of the gifts that God gave me.

We are not built to work and labor 24 hours a day.  We all need rest and relaxation.  The Fourth Commandment teaches us that, among other things.  But when we rest and enjoy the things God gave us, we should always do so in part with the purpose of better equipping ourselves for service to others, recognizing this as the reason God put us on this earth.

Paul says, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (Eph. 4:28 NKJ)”  This instruction does a beautiful job of laying out the principle.  A thief is a parasite, the ultimate consumer, taking from the community and giving nothing back.  A man of God is the opposite, a man who produces useful goods and services for others, so that out of the overflow of what he creates he will not only supply his own life with good things, but the lives of others around him, especially those most in need.  This is why God put us on the earth, and it is always in service to others that we will find our greatest joy, for that is the purpose for which God created us.

Understanding the true scope of the commandments destroys our pride and complacency when we realize how we constantly violate all of the commandments.  But we must guard against despair by remembering that Christ has died for our sins, freed us from the curse of the law, and empowered us by His Spirit to begin to repent and walk in obedience.  There is no condemnation for those that are united to Christ by faith, and it is this hope and confidence that fuels our efforts to embrace more fully the righteous, life-giving law of God in our lives.

Our Sexual Design: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 41


  1. What does the seventh commandment teach us?

That all unchastity is accursed of God,1and that we should therefore loathe it with our whole heart,2 and live chastely and modestly,3 whether in holy wedlock or single life.4

[1] Lev. 18:27–28. [2] Jude 1:22–23. [3] 1 Thess. 4:3–5. [4] Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 7:1–4.


  1. Does God forbid nothing more in this commandment than adultery and such gross sins?

Since both our body and soul are temples of the Holy Spirit, it is His will that we keep both pure and holy; therefore, He forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words,1 thoughts, desires,2 and whatever may entice thereto.3

[1] Eph. 5:3–4; 1 Cor. 6:18–20. [2] Matt. 5:27–30. [3] Eph. 5:18–19; 1 Cor. 15:33.

Our Sexual Design 


Marriage is a gift from God and was seen from the beginning as the normal state of humanity.  It was not good that the man should be alone, God said, and it was that need for companionship and intimacy which was the original impetus for marriage.  Note that it was not childrearing, though that was an important function of marriage as well.  The witness of Scripture throughout, including the Seventh Commandment, is that man’s sexual nature is designed to function exclusively within the confines of marriage.

When evaluating the Old Testament civil laws regarding marriage, adultery, fornication and the like, it is important to remember Jesus’ words regarding divorce, in Matthew 19, that Moses permitted them to divorce because of the hardness of their hearts.  This is an important insight into the nature of Mosaic civil law.  It was not intended to express God’s perfect moral will, but rather was intended to regulate and restrain the sinfulness of the people, in order to limit the damage that such sinfulness inflicted, especially on the poorest and weakest in society.  So a man who wanted to put his wife away had to give her a writ of divorce, so that she could prove that she was free to remarry.  This did not indicate that God thought divorce was a good idea.  As Jesus said, the intention from the beginning was the unbreakable union of a man and a woman together in matrimony.

Sexual Immorality and Its Consequences

It is in this context that the many commandments against sexual immorality must be understood.  Our sexual natures are a great gift from God and a great aid in promoting and enjoying the union of man and woman in marriage.  It is precisely because sexuality is such a powerful aspect of our being that it must be carefully regulated.  Fire is a wonderful blessing and civilization would be impossible without it.  But fire must be contained properly or it causes enormous damage.  So too, an unrestrained sexuality is a deadly force.

Sexual activity with another person causes the development of feelings of very close intimacy with the other person.  It does this because this is what it is designed to do.  This is true of any level at all of sexual expression, however innocent seeming, which is why Jesus says that even looking with lust causes the commission of adultery.  When that intimate relationship begins to be formed and then is broken, emotional damage results.  It becomes increasingly difficult to form normal emotional relationships.   This is just one example of the damage done by adultery, but we lead with it because all too often as society thinks it has gotten better at mitigating the external damage of unrestrained sexual expression, it has completely neglected to recognize this spiritual and emotional aspect of our natures.

Beyond that, of course, sexual immorality causes a great deal of damage in other ways.  Physically it spreads terrible disease.  Societally it breaks down the bonds that holds human civilization in place, as it undermines marriages and results in children being born and raised in unsafe and unstable environments.  Materially it is tremendously expensive for the whole community– having a child born out of wedlock is one of the surest routes to poverty, and being raised in a single-parent home is a high predictor of a great many social ills such as illiteracy, substance abuse, and criminal behavior.  Pornography may seem like a harmless sin, but in addition to the many women and children who are forced into this industry against their will, the spiritual and emotional damage is real and substantial.

We think that through government programs, medical treatment and educational initiatives we can control the damage that is caused, but the actual result is that people, especially the young, are lured into complacency and a false sense of security and become even more unrestrained in their behavior.  Contraceptives only work when used carefully and responsibly, and even then only partially.  Little can help the spread of destructive venereal diseases, though medication can reduce the damage somewhat.  Abortion can solve the problem of out-of-wedlock or otherwise inconvenient pregnancies, but only at the expense of much greater physical and spiritual problems.

More could be said about specifics (such as homosexuality, cohabitation, and divorce), but all of this is to say that God designed human nature to work in a particular way both physically and relationally, and when we flout God’s design for humanity, the result is predictable.  As certainly as putting orange juice in our gas tank will ruin our engine, defying God’s design for our sexual natures will result in all sorts of damaging consequences.

The Gospel and Sexual Sin

As with all of God’s commands, however, we operate under God’s grace.  Even for those with great sins in their past and present, the blood of Christ is sufficient, and the grace of God is powerful to heal and restore.  Sexual sins are very prominent, and sometimes get singled out particularly by conservative churches as especially worthy of condemnation while slander, gossip, greed and the like go on largely unremarked upon.  On the other hand, the prominence of sexual sin in our culture has driven all too many churches to compromise and be silent on this issue.  We ought to avoid both of these extremes, and instead exhibit the grace of God to others, witness to the goodness of God’s law and the promise of forgiveness and healing in the gospel of Christ.

The Value of Life: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day #40


  1. What does God require in the sixth commandment?

That I do not revile, hate, insult, or kill my neighbor either in thought, word, or gesture, much less in deed, whether by myself or by another,1 but lay aside all desire of revenge;2 moreover, that I do not harm myself, nor willfully run into any danger.3Wherefore also to restrain murder the magistrate is armed with the sword.4

[1] Matt. 5:21–22; 26:52; Gen. 9:6. [2] Eph. 4:26; Rom. 1:19; Matt. 5:25; 18:35. [3] Matt. 4:7; Rom. 13:14; Col. 2:23. [4] Ex. 21:14; *Matt. 18:6–7.


  1. Does this commandment speak only of killing?

No, but in forbidding murder God teaches us that He abhors its very root, namely, envy,1 hatred,2 anger,3 and desire of revenge; and that in His sight all these are hidden murder.4

[1] Rom. 1:28–32. [2] 1 Jn. 2:9–11. [3] Jas. 2:13; Gal. 5:19–21. [4] 1 Jn. 3:15 *Jas. 3:16; *1:19.


  1. But is this all that is required: that we do not kill our neighbor?

No, for in condemning envy, hatred, and anger, God requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves,1 to show patience, peace, meekness,2 mercy,3 and kindness4 toward him, and to prevent his hurt as much as possible;5 also, to do good even unto our enemies.6

[1] Matt. 7:12; 22:39. [2] Eph. 4:2; Gal. 6:1–2; Rom. 12:18. [3] Matt. 5:7; Lk. 6:36. [4] Rom. 12:10. [5] Ex. 23:5. [6] Matt. 5:44–45; Rom. 12:20–21; *Col. 3:12–14; *Matt. 5:9.

The Value of Life

One of the great principles of the Christian faith is the essential value of all human beings.  Man is made in the image of God, and that truth gives a worth and dignity to every person that far transcends all differences between people.  There are men and women; there are young and old; there are rich, high-status people and poor, despised ones; there are people with very high IQs and people with little education or even serious mental handicaps.  The very common human thinking is to rank the value and dignity of a human life based on these kinds of subjective judgments, to believe that some kinds of human beings, or particular individual human beings, are more human or more important or more valuable than others.

There’s no denying that there are real differences between people and that these differences impact human relationships and social order.  The Bible instructs us that children are to obey their parents, that women cannot be officers in the church, and that citizens are to obey their civil rulers, for example.  Yet all of those kinds of distinctions fade in importance next to the much more fundamental principle of the equal worth and dignity of all human beings.  We should not say an “infinite value” or that human life is “sacred,” since those things are only true of God, but that every human’s life has an equal value, and that their value is so high as to outweigh any concern of mine that might harm, jeopardize or denigrate that life.

The Sixth Commandment arises from this principle.  We are to respect the worth of all other human beings.  One human never has the right to decide that another human should die.  Our lives are in God’s hands and for a man to attempt to seize that right from God and take another man’s life into his own hands is a wicked sin.  The perceived relative rarity of murder in our own society only demonstrates the deep impact of Christianity on our culture.  It was not at all rare in the ancient world, when tribes routinely raided their neighbors for slaves or animals and killed whoever got in their way. Violence within societies is one of the oldest and most dangerous problems that human culture faces.  And murder is quite common in our own society.  We just disguise a lot of it by calling it a medical procedure on a lump of tissue.

But the Sixth Commandment, as the Catechism well teaches us, requires that we treat others always with a sense of their dignity and worth.  That dignity and worth has nothing to do with any particular behavior of theirs or external condition or status of their life, but exists simply because they are made in the image of God.  That extends not only to my physical acts but to words and even attitudes that we have toward people.  If I call a man a fool, an idiot, or other name, then I am saying that they have less worth or less right to exist than I, and as such, I am murdering them, depriving them of life, if only in my heart.  Thus, Jesus says, such an attitude puts one in danger of hellfire.  Those attitudes are the root or seed of physical murder.

The Biblical teaching of the death penalty is sometimes held out as an inconsistency here.  But quite the contrary; it is the fact that a society that will not execute murderers is one that does not take human life seriously.  It is precisely because we have no right to denigrate the worth of another human being that someone who does so in such a drastic way as to murder them has lost their right to life, and this is not a human judgment, but a divine one.  It is God that said that he who sheds man’s blood ought to have his blood in return shed by man.  The death penalty is therefore a necessary part of the judicial system of any society that truly values human life.  But that penalty should only be executed with great caution and true to Biblical principles.  Our human responsibility is to determine whether or not a man has committed murder, but what to do with such a man is not a matter of human judgment.  God has spoken.

Out of the heart flow the issues of life, and as always we are commanded to obey this principle first in our heart, by cultivating love and respect for those around us.  God is the Lord of the heart and not of the body only, and we are culpable of sin that is only thought or felt, even if never acted upon.  If sin is allowed to take root and grow in our heart, we can be sure it will express itself in action anyway.

Though it is the most natural thing in the world for us to believe that we are better, more important, or of higher value than other people, walking with Christ requires us to constantly attack this natural pride.  Christ is our guide, who always put others ahead of Himself, who never acted out of concern for His own respect or dignity, but even when rebuking others (sometimes with quite sharp language) did so always with a concern for their welfare and never demeaning them as people.  This great love led Him to even lay down His life for others, something He did not only at the end of His life on the cross, but throughout His days on this earth.  He was a servant to all.  The Christian will desire to be conformed to Jesus’ image in all things, including this respect for the worth and dignity of all other human beings, and not just as an intellectual abstraction but in the way we talk and think and treat those people with whom we interact in our lives.

Submission to God’s Reality: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 39


  1. What does God require in the fifth commandment?

That I show all honor, love, and faithfulness to my father and mother,1 and to all in authority over me,2 submit myself with due obedience to all their good instruction and correction, and also bear patiently with their infirmities, since it is God’s will to govern us by their hand.3

[1] Eph. 6:22; Eph. 6:1–6; Col. 3:18, 20–24; Prov. 1:8–9; 4:1; 15:20; 20:20; Ex. 21:17; Gen. 9:24–25. [2] Rom. 13:1; 1 Pet. 2:18; Rom. 13:2–7; Matt. 22:21. [3] Eph. 6:4, 9; Col. 3:19, 21; *Prov. 30:17; *Deut. 27:16; *Deut. 32:24; *Prov. 13:24; *1 Tim. 2:1–2; *1 Tim. 5:17; *Heb. 13:17–18.

Submission to God’s Reality
The word for “honor” is the word kabod in Hebrew, meaning weighty or heavy. To honor is to give someone the weight that is due to their position. The Heidelberg describes this as honor, love and faithfulness, meaning loyalty and obedience.

Children are to obey their parents. God providentially has arranged society so that children are given instruction and guidance from their parents. God has created us in such a way that most people, even unbelievers, feel very strong attachments to their children, and this prompts parents to sacrifice a great deal of time, money and energy to raise and prepare children for life. God has given the human race a wonderful gift in this natural familial affection. If children are wise, then they will obey their parents in order to gain maximum benefit from this. Thus, the commandment says, your days will be long on the land. Even if your parents are unwise in some ways, they are almost certainly wiser than their children, sitcoms and Hollywood movies notwithstanding.

Obviously, in an earthly sense, the promise of long life as a result of obedience to parents is a general proverb. Many good children who obeyed their parents nonetheless died young, while wicked and rebellious people sometimes live long lives. Cain outlived Abel, and God’s providence is His own. All other things being equal, it is true that children who submit to parents will have an easier time of life and a higher quality of life if they submit to parents. Their survival chances go up considerably. They will avoid many errors earlier in life. Many of the mistakes we can make in life are not obvious, and a child is poorly equipped to understand the reasons for those. As an example, if a child’s diet consists entirely of sugary sweets, his health will suffer in many ways. But the sugary sweets will make him feel good in the moment and he will not feel the ill effects for a while. Left to himself, the child’s diet will be very poor. But the adult knows the importance of it, because of the greater perspective that the passage of time has given him. Similar statements can be made for relationships, personal hygiene, finances and many other areas of life.

Further, as the Catechism points out, it is God’s will to govern us by the hand of these authorities. Rebellion against parents is ultimately rebellion against the God that gave the parents. There is not, therefore, merely a practical injunction here. All God’s commands are inherently practical. But they are ultimately theological. If I rebel against God, I will come to ruin, quite apart from any naturalistic workings of the universe, because God is just. Even if I manage to avoid the more obvious consequences, ultimately those who rebel against God’s commands will come to destruction.

As adults, this commandment does not lose its force. Though the nature of our honoring of our parents will change, the reality of it does not. As adults, we are to continue to show respect to our parents in obedience to God. Since the authority of parents over children is given for the purpose of guiding children through childhood, obedience to parents is not required for adults (the function of that obedience has ended). And yet parents should be respected and honored throughout our lives. We should listen to their advice and give it careful consideration. We should not show contempt or ridicule for them- a common failing for adults, since as adults we are well aware of the infirmities and failings of our parents. We should care for them and ensure their comfort as best as we can when they are elderly and infirm.

Honoring our parents also means honoring tradition, giving heavy weight to the views and values of the past. Tradition is neither infallible nor inerrant, and change is often necessary, but that change should be undertaken gradually and carefully. It is a foolish child that thinks he can carelessly discard the accumulated wisdom of centuries, whatever his age might be.

There is a further spiritual principle here as well. Honoring our parents means being thankful for who God made us through our parents. We are in many ways who we are because of the parents God gave us. If we are bitter and angry because of our parents, then we are bitter and angry at God for His providence in our lives, and ultimately reject our own nature. It is impossible that we should have real success and happiness in our lives while we are bitter and angry about our own nature.

Even more broadly, then, obeying the Fifth Commandment means submitting to reality, submitting to God’s providence and not being bitter and resentful about the world into which God has brought us and His provision for us in this world. It takes no particular wisdom to find fault with those that have gone before. Cynicism and contempt for tradition often poses as wisdom, but they are very different things. It takes a great deal of wisdom to be humble, to embrace one’s own limitations, and to learn from others, including others that may be dead already. Christians should never be revolutionaries, even when they advocate for change in ungodly institutions. This commandment should give Christians a bent to the traditional without being reactionaries that idolize the past.

The obedience mandated by the fifth commandment flows out of thankfulness to God, and the result will be prosperity in many ways. We are to be thankful to God for who He made us and the gifts that He has given us, even through the failings and weaknesses of our parents. In the Commandment, the promise is couched in general and earthly terms, appropriate for the Old Testament era. Though God never promised us health and wealth in this life, He has promised us eternal life and prosperity if we will trust Him and His providences in our lives. And even in this life, we will always be more successful at the work God has given us to do when we follow His principles.

All are welcome at Christ Reformed Church!  We worship at 10 AM Sunday morning at 600 W. 21st St, in College Heights Baptist’s old sanctuary.

Resting in Christ: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 38


  1. What does God require in the fourth commandment?

In the first place, God wills that the ministry of the Gospel and schools be maintained,1 and that I, especially on the day of rest, diligently attend church2 to learn the Word of God,3 to use the holy sacraments,4 to call publicly upon the Lord,5 and to give Christian alms.In the second place, that all the days of my life I rest from my evil works, allow the Lord to work in me by His Spirit, and thus begin in this life the everlasting Sabbath.7

[1] Tit. 1:5; 1 Tim. 3:14–15; 4:13–14; 5:17; 1 Cor. 9:11, 13–14. [2] 2 Tim. 2:2, 15; Ps. 40:10–11; 68:26; Acts 2:42, 46. [3] 1 Cor. 14:19, 29, 31. [4] 1 Cor. 11:33. [5] 1 Tim. 2:1–2, 8–10; 1 Cor. 14:16. [6] 1 Cor. 16:2. [7] Isa. 66:23; *Gal. 6:6; *Acts 20:7; Heb. 4:9–10.

Resting in Christ

The Fourth Commandment enjoins on us the observance of the Sabbath day.  The word “Sabbath” means “rest.”  In the Mosaic administration, this commandment’s observance was clearly spelled out as the complete cessation of all labor and other productive activities on the seventh day of the week.  Attached to this was a complex system of holy days and feast days, also called Sabbaths, such as the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles.  Exodus 31:13 tells us these Sabbaths were given to the peoples as signs.  Signs are ceremonies or symbols that point to some spiritual truth, and the passage tells us what the Sabbaths point to—that it is the Lord that sanctifies the people.  The Lord makes the people holy and blessed, and not their own efforts, and therefore they can rest in Him.  Symbolically they rest one day a week, but in truth they were to rest in the salvation of God every day of the week, every minute of their lives, for the Lord does not sanctify them only on the seventh day.

The promised Messiah was the way that God had always promised to purify and perfect His people, to save them from the curse of sin.  The Sabbath commandment was therefore a promise of the Messiah, and a heartfelt observation of the Sabbath Day was therefore an act of faith in the Messiah.

In the New Testament, the ceremonies of the Old Law are abrogated.  Paul specifically tells Christians (in Romans 14:1-6, Colossians 2:16, and Galatians 4:10) that the observance of a Sabbath day is no longer obligatory for Christians.  Some modern proponents of Sabbath observance claim that this is referring only to Jewish feast days, but there is no exegetical reason, no indication from the text, that this is the case.  Two of the passages in Romans and Galatians do not refer to Sabbaths specifically but simply to the observance of days of any kind, and Colossians 2:16 uses the same word used for the one-in-seven observance as every other passage in the New Testament.

But this does not mean that the Fourth Commandment is no longer applicable.  The Catechism in question 104 gives us the ongoing significance of the commandment.  First, we are to lay hold of the means of grace at the appointed times.  The Sabbath Day in the Old Testament was the foundation of the whole system of worship given to Israel in the Old Testament.  Though the system of worship has changed, the principle has not.  The observance of God’s means of grace is mandatory, just as much in the New Testament as in the Old.  When at the church’s appointment God’s people are called together to call upon the Lord, take the sacraments and learn God’s word, God’s people are to be there.  Barring illness or travel or something of that nature, the worship of God is not optional.  If the means of grace are mandated in the Fourth Commandment, then so too is the support of those means.  So we are to financially support the church and the training of men to do the work.  This is the Catechism’s exhortation that “the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained.”

Second, the spiritual heart of the Commandment remains absolutely unchanged.  It is a call for us to believe the Gospel.  We are to rest from any dream that we can earn God’s favor or our own blessedness through our works.  To that end, we can give up time, throughout the week, for spiritual exercises, for public worship, for private and family devotion.  The commandment does not mandate a precise schedule for this, but it mandates it nonetheless.  Throughout the week we also are to rest in our hearts, not just in our bodies, in the completed sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, and the Spirit of God which was delivered to us by that sacrifice, knowing that it is God the Lord who sanctifies us and not we ourselves.  He does that work of sanctification through Jesus Christ.

Jesus, the last week of His life, labored faithfully six days in Jerusalem, teaching and healing as His Father had given Him to do.  That work was finished with His greatest obedience of all, on the sixth day, when He died on the cross.  On the seventh day He rested, in the grave, in Paradise, the most perfect Sabbath rest any man had ever experienced.  And on the eighth day He rose again.  So the ancient church appointed the eighth day, the first day of the week, as the day of worship, signaling not the moving of the Sabbath Day from one day to another but the completion and transcendence of the Sabbath system, as was prophesied by the ceremonial system of the Old Testament.  The Feast of Tabernacles which looked forward to the salvation of the world, concluded on the eighth day with a final great sacrifice.  A child was sanctified to the Lord by circumcision on the eighth day after he was born.  The Year of Jubilee was always the fiftieth year, the year after seven Sabbath years, and that was the great year of salvation which Jesus claimed was fulfilled by Him in Luke 4:21.  So this eighth day worship, worship on the day when Jesus rose from the dead and fulfilled the law perfectly, the day after the Sabbath, became the rule of the early church and remains so to this day.

So the Catechism does not enjoin on us the observance of any particular day, but calls us to observe the heart of the commandment by laying hold of the means of grace in faith, and trusting in Christ’s power, worked by the Spirit of God, to deliver all the blessings of God to His people.  He has perfectly fulfilled all the Law on our behalf, and we receive all the blessings of His kingdom by faith, and thus begin even now to experience eternal rest in Christ by faith.

Lawful Oaths and Weak Humans

101. But may we swear reverently by the name of God?
Yes, when the magistrate requires it, or when it may be needful otherwise, to maintain and promote fidelity and truth to the glory of God and our neighbor’s good; for such an oath is grounded in God’s Word,1 and therefore was rightly used by the saints in the Old and New Testaments.2
[1] Deut. 10:20; Isa. 48:1; Heb. 6:16. [2] Gen. 21:24; 31:53–54; Josh. 9:15, 19; 1 Sam. 24:22; 1 Kgs. 1:29; Rom. 1:9.
102. May we swear by “the saints” or by any other creatures?
No, for a lawful oath is a calling upon God, that He, as the only searcher of hearts, may bear witness to the truth, and punish me if I swear falsely;1 which honor is due to no creature.2
[1] 2 Cor. 1:23. [2] Matt. 5:34–36; *Jer. 5:7; *Isa. 65:16.

Lawful Oaths and Weak Humans

There have been Christians since the Reformation who denounced all oaths as a violation of the Third Commandment, especially many of the Anabaptists. Given Jesus’ words in Matt. 5:33-37, it is very understandable why one would come to this conclusion. Groups such as the Mennonites and Amish even today will not take oaths.

But Jesus’ teaching in this section is famously hyperbolic. Just before this section He recommended cutting a hand off or plucking an eye out to avoid sin. That does not mean His teaching doesn’t mean anything and can be safely ignored. He teaches the heart of the Third Commandment and the Ninth Commandment, to use words always in a truthful and forthright manner, whether directed to God or to men. Since the violation of God’s name was such a great crime, they would take oaths by things other than God, such as angels, the temple, or the like.

Some of the rabbis taught a complex system of casuistry whereby some formulas of oaths were more binding than others, and some unscrupulous people would even use this loophole to trick Gentiles or others that weren’t familiar with their rules.

We should not be superstitious about words, or about anything else. It is not the uttering of certain syllables which is the problem, but the misuse of God’s name to promote falsehood. Using God’s name to promote truth and fidelity among neighbors or in civil society is a right use of that name, and as question 101 says, has ample precedent in Scripture. In 2 Corinthians 1:23 Paul swears with God as his witness, that it was to avoid trouble with them that he did not go to Corinth, rather than to cause it, and several other similar examples can be cited.

So if a Mennonite says, “I affirm that the testimony I give is true” as opposed to saying “I swear…,” there really is no difference. The same thing is happening in both cases, and the substitution of one word for another is really just superstition, like the Pharisaical avoidance of using the name of God under any circumstances, even as they profaned His worship, twisted His doctrine, and abused His people.

It is a shame that there are any such people that would be comfortable lying to someone unless they first say, “I swear that…” But such people certainly exist, human nature being what it is. For well-meaning people, the oath, the raised hand, the hand on the Bible can all function to impress upon the person the importance of what he is saying so that he thinks about it extra carefully, when without such circumstances attending his words he might thoughtlessly toss off promises that he cannot or does not intend to keep. Additionally, while it would be wonderful if people could trust others in their words, we know there are many liars in the world, and it is easy for doubt and suspicion to creep into our relationships. We ought to deal with each other realistically with regard to the weakness of human nature. In 2 Corinthians 1:23 it was precisely the Corinthians’ skepticism about Paul’s real motive that prompted him to call God as his witness that it was the good of their relationship that kept him away in the past.

So a lawful oath can be a help to smooth dealings between sinful human beings, and when made with honesty and integrity, glorifies God by promoting the serious use of His name to promote truth in communication, something that accords very well with God’s nature.

The faithful keeping of covenants is one of the chief ways that God reveals Himself in His Scripture, that He is a God that does what He says He will do. Faithfulness is part of His very nature. One of the chief maladies afflicting the human race is faithlessness in their word. People break marriage vows, church vows, commercial contracts, and their obligations to their nation, and the cost to human society is enormous. We in the church, being renewed to the image of Jesus Christ, should be the very first to advocate for and strive for the faithful keeping of covenants, that we keep our promises and do what we say we will do.

All are welcome at Christ Reformed Church!  We worship at 10 AM Sunday morning at 600 W. 21st St, in College Heights Baptist’s old sanctuary.

Hijacking God’s Name: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 36


  1. What is required in the third commandment?

That we must not by cursing,1 or by false swearing,2 nor yet by unnecessary oaths,3 profane or abuse the name of God; nor even by our silence and connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; and in summary, that we use the holy name of God in no other way than with fear and reverence,4 so that He may be rightly confessed5 and worshiped6 by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.7

[1] Lev. 24:10–16. [2] Lev. 19:12. [3] Matt. 5:37; Jas. 5:12. [4] Isa. 45:23. [5] Matt. 10:32.

[6] 1 Tim. 2:8. [7] Rom. 2:24; 1 Tim. 6:1; Col. 3:16–17; *1 Pet. 3:15.


  1. Is the profaning of God’s name, by swearing and cursing, so grievous a sin that His wrath is kindled against those also who do not help as much as they can to hinder and forbid it?

Yes, truly,1 for no sin is greater and more provoking to God than the profaning of His name; wherefore He even commanded it to be punished with death.2

[1] Lev. 5:1 [2] Lev. 24:15–16; *Lev. 19:12; *Prov. 29:24–25.

Hijacking God’s Name

The issue of taking the Lord’s name in vain is often sadly relegated to a fairly minor issue, mainly because the issue is not well understood.

In the first place, people often do not appreciate how grave an offense it is to misuse the name of God.  The “name” of God is not just a phonetic symbol that identifies Him, as our names so often are.  The name of God is the way that He reveals Himself to mankind, as for example when He refers to Israel as the people on whom He has put His name (as in Numbers 6:27) or in Deuteronomy 12:5 where the people of Israel are told to offer their sacrifices in the place where God puts His name.  That’s not referring merely to a place named after God; many of the cities in Israel were named after God in one way or another.  It refers to the place where God reveals Himself, or in other words Jerusalem.  Israel is the people to whom and through whom God reveals Himself.

The word “vain” in the commandment means “empty” or “without purpose.”  When a man uses the name of God in an empty or frivolous manner, he lies about who God is.  In doing so, he attacks the very purpose for which God made him.  Man is made in the image of God, that is, to reveal God and reflect His nature.  This is the purpose for the whole universe, and most of all for man as the pinnacle of God’s creation.  So when man corrupts that revelation with lies or foolish talking, God will not take that lightly.  Our tendency to downplay the importance of words is reflected in the commandment itself, which includes a stern warning.

So, using God’s name as an exclamation or a foolish curse is a crime against His dignity and majesty.  Ironically, men use these kinds of expressions to add force to their words, showing their awareness of the importance of the name even as they misuse it and misappropriate it for their own purposes.

Imagine, for example, if someone created a fake profile on Facebook or Pinterest or some other social media platform, using your name, and then used that profile to say all sorts of horrible things about other people that did not reflect your own views.  Would you not be greatly offended and angered?  But is this not exactly what we do when we say, “God damn it” or some equivalent expression?  Am I not using the great power of God’s name to add force to what I want to say?  And in doing so, I empty God’s name of any real content, so that it no longer possesses any force.   God created this world to speak into it.  It is a great crime for wicked men to try to hijack His self-revelation for their own wicked selfish ends.

Secondly, the issue of taking God’s name goes far beyond what we describe as swearing or cursing.  It is any use of God’s name in a light or frivolous manner.  It happens when people call themselves Christians despite having no commitment to Christ.  It happens when people air their speculations about who God is.  It happens when people worship God and sing songs of praise to Him with no corresponding sincerity or integrity in their heart.  All of this is taking the Lord’s name lightly and with no substance, and as question 100 says, it is such a grievous offense against God that He commands it to be punished with death.  The command only recognizes the reality of the thing; someone that perverts and misuses the revelation of God simply forfeits his right to exist, since revealing and glorifying God was the reason God made us in the first place.  It is the equivalent of a messenger who is sent by the king with a message, and upon arriving at his destination says, “Thus says the king,” and then makes up a message rather than giving the message the king gave him.  Any messenger caught doing that would quickly be relieved of his head in a day when people took authority more seriously than they do today.

It is a great thing to take the name of God upon myself.  If I say I am a Christian, or a follower or disciple of Jesus, or a child of God or a worshiper of God or any equivalent expression, I am claiming something very weighty for myself.  But God will not be made to serve me; He will not allow His name and His revelation to be drafted to serve my ends.  He always serves His own ends alone.  Thus the heart of the commandment is always using the name of God with fear and reverence, recognizing that He is sovereign and I am the subject; He rules me, never the other way around.  The goal is, according to the Catechism, to confess and worship God rightly, with words that have truth, substance and sincerity behind them, so that the truth of God is properly revealed in all that we say.