John recently received the following inquiry so we are sharing the questions and his answers below. As mentioned previously, whenever we get questions that appear to have a broader application for the FMM family, we will add them to the Q&A section of our website.
What does it mean to take God’s Name in vain?
Jewish and non-Jewish writers have written volumes of material concerning this third commandment. You could spend months poring over some of it on the Internet. But rather than repeat what has already been said, I will share my personal understanding of what doing anything ‘in God’s Name’ would mean in the Biblical world and its Middle Eastern mentality.
The Semitic matrix and mentality God chose for His Self-Revelation is a Blood Covenant matrix and mentality. Therefore, I believe that in the ancient Semitic/Hebraic world and cultural milieu in which the Bible is embedded, the meaning of this phrase can be best understood if you consider some kind of emperor, such as the pharaoh of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, or one of the Roman Caesars.
When such an exalted lord and ruler sends his personal ambassador and close assisting servant on a diplomatic mission to visit and do business with another king in a territory that lies beyond his borders, that ambassador will be required to think, live, act, react and interact ‘in his master’s name.’ In other words, it will be as if the master is actually living, speaking and acting from within that emissary. The lord is ‘wearing the ambassador’s skin… and the ambassador is there to embody the lord who sent him. If he faithfully does that, he can be said to be the image and likeness of his lord.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘SEE, I MAKE YOU AS GOD TO PHARAOH, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 7:1-3 Emphasis added.)
God uses this imagery to teach and train us how to regard Him and interact with Him, and represent Him, as we make our way through this time and space temporal world. He is our one and only awesome God, our one and only Source for everything on every level. His Majesty and Greatness and Absolute Authority go light years beyond that of any mortal, worldly potentate! But the dynamics contained in the analogy are the same. We honor the Name of our awesome Creator and Lord by receiving absolutely everything from Him – whatever we are, or do, or have… we receive from Him. He is our Life! And He is Perfect and All Sufficient in every way and on every level. So, if we interact with Him on that basis, we are following His living and written Word and, whatever we do, is being done ‘in the Name of God.’
But if we’re phony religious frauds that appear to be one thing on the surface, but inwardly are something altogether different, still radically independent and worldly and double-minded and self-serving, then…when we pose and posture and try to come across as ‘spiritual’ or ‘Godly’ or ‘religious,’ we are taking the Name of God in vain.
In the Hebraic, Biblical cultural setting through which God chose to reveal Himself, we must realize that, to the king and people that the ambassador is sent to visit… that ambassador IS the emperor or king that sent him. In that mentality, there is no difference between the two in terms of the personal interactions that are to take place as long as the ambassador is with these people, on his master’s business.
In that sense, the ambassador is to be thought of and regarded and treated exactly the way those he visits would treat the Pharaoh of Egypt, or King Nebuchadnezzar, or the Roman Caesar himself, if one of them were physically present. And this is what I believe the phrase ‘in His Name’ or ‘in My Name’ is intended to mean when it is applied to the Lord’s disciples. This is the same kind of relationship that is created by their Covenant union with God and His Spirit and His living Word. They must be considered to be ‘echad’ in Hebrew, or in English, ONE!
Even if that ambassador is doing a lousy job, he still holds the ‘office’ and the ‘commission’ that his master bestowed upon him. In that sense, he is to be honored and the deal stands – whatever you do to him, you are doing to the one who sent him. Of course, because disciples must often deal with living dead, decapitated sinners, the sinners know nothing about this. They do not recognize the rank and status of the disciples before them. So very often they hold those disciples in contempt and treat them with disrespect and even abuse.
Thus you can see the situation and plight of God’s chosen people, Israel. They have been given a most exalted stature and position by Almighty God Himself. When God’s living Word summoned them to gather before Him at Mt. Sinai, He, acting in His Father’s Name, commissioned them to be God’s Ambassador Nation, the nation that was to serve as God’s Personal Disciple, or Emissary. And despite Israel’s human flaws and failings, the principle stands. God sent Israel to the world to speak and live ‘in His Name.’ And so, whatever you do to God’s Ambassador, Israel, you do to God!
“But when the Son of Man comes in His Glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations (Gentiles) will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them (the Gentiles) from one another, as the Shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me!’
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life!” (Matthew 25:31-46 Amplification and emphasis added.)
In this Biblical context, whatever you do to the ambassador, or disciple, whether they are Jewish or non-Jewish, you are doing it to the Lord who sent them. In this Biblical mentality, the lord and his emissary are considered to be one and the same. The ambassador and disciple do not stand before you on their own behalf, or in their own name. Nor are they there to follow their own ‘on the side’ dealings or pursue alien, personal agendas. They have died to all of that so that they can be free to serve as the physical extension of the Master who has led them to you. The Master who sent them to you is actually dwelling, acting and speaking, from within them! This is the life that our Master lived and demonstrated so perfectly, when He lived among men as Rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth. He was always under the dominion and direction of the Spirit of His Father. Thus He is the embodiment of His Father and this is why He said:
“…Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.’” (John 5:19 Emphasis added.)
And this is what Almighty God said, through Moses, to Israel, concerning His living Word:
“Behold, I am going to send an angel (My Messenger or Living Word) before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Be on your guard before Him and obey His Voice; do not be rebellious toward Him, for He will not pardon your transgression, since My Name is IN HIM! But if you truly obey His Voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Exodus 23:20-22 Amplification and emphasis added.)
So to act in God’s Name requires God’s Word and Spirit to be free to live in and operate within, and through, our spirit, soul and body. If what God sends His Word and Spirit to be and do within us is able to come forth through us, just as God wants it to come through, we can be said to be speaking and acting ‘in God’s Name.’
But if we’re merely religious frauds, then what we come out with will have no eternal value. It will be mere ‘hay, wood and stubble’ and will not endure the test of the Fire of God’s Judgment.
“I will raise up a Prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My Words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words, which He shall speak IN MY NAME, I Myself will require it of him.
“But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My Name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’” (Deuteronomy 18:18-20)
Keeping this in mind, ponder Yeshua’s words in this chilling, heart-stopping warning He gave to His disciples:
“Enter through the Narrow Gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the Gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to (Eternal) Life, and there are few who find it.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.
“Not everyone who SAYS to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who DOES (embodies) the will of My Father who is in Heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name cast out demons, and in Your Name perform many miracles?’
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice Lawlessness (Torah-lessness).’” (Matthew 7:13-23 Amplification and emphasis added.
See also the parables of the ten virgins and the talents in Matthew 25.)
So, if we do what God’s Living Word was sent to tell us in His Father’s Name, then because we ARE and we DO what He says, the Word of God truly becomes our King and our indwelling Life and Lord. And if He truly is our King and Lord, then we truly are part of His Kingdom. But if He’s not truly our King, then we’re not really part of His Kingdom. These are two sides of the same coin.
To be in God’s Kingdom is not essentially about a geographical location. It is essentially to be in right relationship with our Creator and Redeemer who owns us by right of Creation, and by right of Redemption. Our Blood Covenant Representative has redeemed us from our slavery to the Serpent and his demonic powers. We are not our own! We have been redeemed and reserved for God’s service at a horrendously steep price that required God to give all that He has in order to rescue us!
So you can identify true Kingdom people by the way they acknowledge these facts and by the way they abide with their indwelling God… living as one with His living Word and Holy Spirit in thought, word and deed. The Word, who is always operating in His Father’s Name, is Lord over these people. And the Gift of the Holy Spirit renders His risen Presence real and active from within them. Thus they are truly God’s image and likeness. They embody His indwelling Presence. They have died to their original radically independent existence, which was nothing more than spiritual ‘Decapitation’ or ‘living death.’ They have forsaken Death so their Master, the Word, who is Life Himself, can live and operate in them and through them and do whatever His Father sent Him to do.
Therefore, when these disciples speak, it isn’t they who are speaking, but the Spirit of their Father who is speaking through them (Matthew 10:19). Thus they come to whatever person or place to which they have been sent…‘in the Name of God.’
Another way of looking at this is to imagine Father continually asking you these questions and making these remarks to you:
“How much of My beloved Son is in you? How much of Him is in your thoughts, actions, reactions and interactions? Show Me the One My heart desires, the only One in whom I am well pleased! Are you standing before Me ‘in His Name’, or not?”
Your next question:
Can you have eternal life and not see or enter the Kingdom of God? Is there a distinction between the two?
Sometimes I have found that you can begin to answer one question, by asking another question. That helps people look at the same thing from a completely different angle and perspective. And sometimes the new perspective is enough to clear the matter up. So keeping in mind the answer I have already given to you above, maybe you can answer this second question on your own.
Perhaps it will be a help to you if you ask yourself: “What do I see in my mind that prompts me to form this question. What do the words ‘eternal life’ mean to me? And when I say ‘Kingdom of God’ – how do I think it might it be possible to be part of God’s Kingdom without also sharing in His eternal life? If we do not have God’s Eternal Life working within us, what would that leave us with? What would the alternative be?”