No Scandal Clause By Scarlett Stough

 

Nothing seems to capture the American imagination more than a scandal. When one of our political or entertainment idols gets caught being immoral, the story runs through the media until the next scandal occurs. Entertainers don’t seem to mind a scandal or two. They have a saying that bad press is better than no press at all. But politicians go to great expense to build an image that will get them elected. Sports figures depend on their image to earn much of their wealth through advertising. Advertisers depend on the image of the sports figure to sell their product. The advertisers don’t want a tarnished reputation to rub off on their product, so the celebrity gets dropped.

Did you know that God has a “no scandal clause?”

“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 falsehood or without purpose” (Deuteronomy 5:11 Amplified Bible).

This is the third of the Ten Commandments and it involves more than profanity even though it does include it. “But what does that have to do with scandal?” you might ask.

God has a reputation, a Name, an Image, that is rooted in his character of love, mercy, justice, and righteousness. He does not want our tarnished reputations to rub off on his Name. When we carry his Name, Christian, we also carry the responsibility of being sure that our conduct does not say to others that God is not loving, merciful, just or righteous.

God gave the prophet Malachi a message which is just as valid for Christians as for the ancient people to whom it was written:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’”

In four chapters in this short book in the Old Testament, we learn how God’s name was defiled. Priests were sacrificing the worst instead of the best of the herds for the Lord’s table. Do we give God the leftovers of our time and energy? Do we give him insincere prayers? Do we ignore the needs of the people around us? Do we fail to live up to our marriage covenants, divorcing and then abandoning the children ( Mal. 2:14-16)?

Do those who teach in our churches teach God’s instructions accurately?

“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction--because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; and you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 2:7-8).

God promised judgment against those who tarnished his Name by their unfaithfulness to all their contract obligations:

“So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty (Mal. 3:5).

“Oh, this is just the Old Testament; we live by the New Covenant,” some might say. What does God say? “I the Lord do not change” (Mal. 3:6). What did Jesus say? “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear [last I looked, it’s still here], not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18). Jesus is still fulfilling his contract obligations. Are we?

What did Paul say? “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Once we commit to the New Covenant sealed by Christ’s blood and his Holy Spirit, we are held accountable to live up to our contract with him. We haven’t though, have we? We don’t always live up to our side of the contract. But we do get a new chance every day. The people we have harmed may not give us that second chance, but God does:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).

But then what? “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands…Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (I John 2:3).

The grace of God is not a license to trample all over his good Name by our bad behavior (Jude 4). Those of us who presume to carry his Name have a responsibility to show by our lives that God is purifying a people, not just pardoning them.

 
Volume 9 Issue 1 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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