God’s Top Ten
III “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
This Commandment is about our talk, but it is curious to me that it does not say: “Thou shalt not “speak” the name of the Lord thy God in vain” … The word “take” can mean “Use” as in speech; or it can mean “carry” because it is also about our walk. Just as those who do not uphold their family’s reputation bring disgrace to the family name; those who do not uphold the reputation of the Lord by living a life of love, repentance and forgiveness, bring disgrace to the Lord’s name.
The word “vain” means “meaningless or worthless.” So, to take someone’s name in vain is to empty their name of meaning or worth.
1. God’s name deserves respect because it is holy.
“Let them praise Your great and awesome name – it is holy.” (Psalm 99:3) God’s name is holy – the word holy means “separate.” God’s name is separate from all common or ordinary names and words.
2. God’s name deserves respect because of his position.
“All nations whom You have made Shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And shall glorify Your name.” (Psalm 86:9) He is the creator. When you speak the name of God, you are speaking about infinite power.
3. His name deserves respect because of what he has done.
“Praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you.” (Joel 2:26)
We’re going to play a little association game. I’m going to say a name, and you think about the first thing that comes into your mind: Jeffery Dahmer – Billy Graham – Dell – IRS – Bill Clinton – Ford – Uncola – Judas – Thomas – Sony – Wesleyan or Catholic, or any denomination?
Names are more than just a way of finding someone in the phone book. Eventually, a person or an organization’s name comes to symbolize the kind of character that that person or organization possesses.
How many of you when you were picking names for your children thought about “Jezebel” or a boy named “Judas”. I have a suspicion that the reason for that is because the actions of those persons so marred the name that they carried that no one today wants to use those names.
Some of us should be very glad about the family that we were born into and the family name that we inherited. One very unfortunate young man was born into the “Stinky” family. When he grew into an adult, Charlie Stinky was constantly being advised by his friends and co-workers that he should have his name changed. Finally, he agreed, and went to court to have the process completed. The judge looked at him and said, “What is your name?” “Charles Stinky.” The judge smiled, “Ah, I can see why you’d want your name changed. What would you like to change it to?” He replied, “George Stinky.”
I am holding a can of Dr. Pepper. As I look at this can and the name that is on it, there is something interesting about it. There is a little “TM” after that name. Do you know what that stands for? It means “Trademark”. That means that the name of this soft drink is the sole property of the company. They own the name and all rights to its use. What would happen if I took a cup of water, added some caramel coloring to it and some sugar and then slapped a Dr. Pepper label on it and tried to sell it to the public? I would probably get sued. The reason that I would get sued is because I had put the same name on my product that was on their product. Well, what’s the problem with that? Why do companies care so much about their name?
Did you know that companies have “quality control managers?” They want to do everything that they can to maintain a quality product with every customer that they deal with so that they can keep a good name – which equals a good reputation. How does this apply to the (denominational name)…or Christian? Think about how to apply this to your life.
Think about the following three questions:
- Can I be a positive witness if I’m taking God’s name in vain?
- Should I confront someone else who is misusing God’s name? (Would you say something to a man who was misusing the name of your wife, your husband, girlfriend, or daughter?)
- Should I listen to music, watch movies or TV, or read books where God’s name is repeatedly taken in vain? How many times is too many? Do you think it will have any effect on our spiritual lives if we choose to read these books or view these shows?
Taking God’s name in vain is more than just how we talk – it needs to be how we live as well. Malachi 1:6-14 says this;
6 “A son honors his father, and a slave 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 priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’
7 “By offering defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’
“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible.
8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.
9 “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.
10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.
11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.
12 “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’
13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord.
14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.”
Obviously, when we read words like “shut the temple doors; useless fires; not pleased with you”– something is going on that is upsetting the Lord, so much so that the Lord wants the doors of the church to be shut up tight…“accept no offerings” (vs. 10) – He wasn’t even willing to accept the offerings that they gave! What was causing such turmoil? “You have despised my name! When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord Almighty.”
The Israelites were supposed to bring their best animal as a sacrifice. Specifically, the sacrifice was to be a one-year old male lamb that had no blemish or spot, no broken legs, and no disease. Instead, they were bringing the leftovers –
How do we treat the title “Christian”? Do we act like all it means is that we will go to heaven when we die, but it has nothing to do with how we live? Did you know that about 75% of U.S. citizens claim to be a Christian? Would you know by looking around you? Okay, let’s talk about what most people think this is about; “Profanity”.
Profanity from the word profane, means that which is not sacred. A profane person treats life with contempt or a lack of reverence. He is insensitive to the sacred and excludes himself from its benefits. He is impure, defiled, and unholy. Profanity is a symptom of a rebel heart. “Swearwords” …are the angry shorthand for a long list of complaints they have against God.
Let me repeat, this commandment is not just about how we speak, it’s also about how we “carry” the name of the Lord. It’s about taking the name of the Lord in vain in our everyday walk.
Helen Mallicoat wrote this piece entitled, “I AM”:
“I was regretting the past, and fearing the future. Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
“MY NAME IS I AM.” He paused…I Waited, He continued, “When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard, I am not there…MY NAME IS NOT I WAS. “When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard, I am not there… MY NAME IS NOT I WILL BE. “When you live in this moment, it is not hard, I AM HERE…MY NAME IS I AM.”
I am with you wherever you may go!