The Greatest Sin that can be Done Outwardly

Pentecost 14 Wednesday

Psalm 50:15

“Call upon me in trouble, and I will answer you, and you shall glorify me.”

All misuse of God’s name happens, first, in secular matters and dealings which concern money, possessions, and honor, be it publicly in court, in business affairs, or wherever people swear and perjure themselves using God’s name or their soul…Most of all, however, this misuse happens in spiritual affairs that concern the conscience when false preachers rise up and sell their lies as God’s Word. See, this is what it means to adorn everything by God’s Word or to try to be appealing and in the right, whether this happens in the simple dealings of this world or in the high, subtle matter of faith and doctrine…Let us now learn and take to heart of what great importance the Second Commandment is so that we with all diligence avoid all misuse of the holy name as the greatest sin that can be done outwardly. For lying and deceiving is a great sin by itself, but it becomes much greater when a person wants to justify himself and invokes God’s name as confirmation and cover for a shameful matter. In this way, a simple lie becomes a twofold lie; in fact, it turns into a manifold lie. This is also why God has added a serious word of threat to this commandment which reads: For the Lord will not hold guiltless him who uses his name in vain, Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11, which means that it shall not be forgiven or remain unpunished…However, it is now a common plague in the whole world that there are so few who do
not use God’s name for lying and all malice. They are as few as those who wholeheartedly trust in God alone…However, you also need to know how to use the name rightly. For beside the word, you shall not use God’s name in vain, he also indicates that you shall use it properly. For the name has been revealed and given to us precisely in order to be used beneficially. This is why the automatic conclusion is that, since we are here forbidden to use the holy name for lies and v
ices, we are, contrariwise, commanded to use it for the truth and all that is good, e.g., by swearing rightly where it is necessary and called for. All this is summarized in Psalm 50:15: “Call upon me in the time of trouble, and I will deliver
you, and you shall praise me.” For this all means to use it for the truth and to use it in a blessed manner; and this is how his name is hallowed, as the Lord’s Prayer prays.

St. Louis ed. 10:41-43.

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