Message Series

Exodus 20:7 & Topical by Pastor Dan Walker
In this message, we look at the third command regarding not misusing God's name. As God's name represents Him, we are to honor, respect and fear His name in our speech, actions and life. In our culture today, God's name is often misused, even though the sin of blasphemy carried the death penalty in the Old Testament. Learn how you as a believer can honor God's name and receive His promised blessing on you and your family.
Duration:24 mins 55 secs

Today we continue in our message series entitled “The Way of Love.” In this series, we’re looking at God’s revelation of Himself in His commandments. As we learn to love Him more, our love will be reflected in the way we speak and live our lives. Our love for God will also be seen in the way that we love the people around us.

Today, our message is entitled “Honor God’s Name.” In today’s world, most names of people are simply labels to distinguish people. For many people, names have no meaning other than a unique label. In the Bible, names had great meaning and significance. A name represents the whole person. In fact, it is as if the name was the person. When a person’s character changed, God changed their name. An example is the name of Abram being changed to Abraham.

Today, we’re not going to be focusing on people’s names, but on God’s name. God’s person, presence and character are concentrated in His name. Since God is infinite, there many names or titles for God in the Scripture to represent different aspects of God. One count of biblical names or titles for God is 955. God revealed His personal name to Moses, the name Yahweh, translated as LORD in our Bibles.

Exodus 3:14-15 (ESV)  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

The name Yahweh or LORD is used 6519 times in the Bible as the name of God. In the New Testament we learn that Jesus is Lord.

Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV)  Therefore God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The name of Jesus is the name that is above every name. Jesus is Lord, He is divine, He is the Lord God. When we pray in Jesus’ name, all the power of the Lord God is behind that prayer prayed in faith. As Christians, we bear Jesus Christ’s name, as we are followers of Christ, the Messiah. So, today, we’re going to talk about honoring God’s name and the blessing that comes from obeying God’s commands regarding His name. We honor God’s name through our words, actions and all of our lives.

Don’t misuse God’s name

Exodus 20:7 (ESV)  “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.

This is the third commandment of the ten commandments and has to do with our relationship with God. The name of God in this commandment is Yahweh, translated as LORD in the command. We are not to take God’s name in vain or misuse God’s name, as the NIV translates.

What does it mean to take God’s name in vain? It means to refer to God in a way that does not honor or show Him respect. Cursing God or someone else with God’s name would be misusing His name. Using God’s name in a flippant or joking manner would be taking His name in vain. Rather, we are to …

Show respect

Psalm 86:11 (ESV)  Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

As we are to fear the Lord our God, so we are to fear His name which represents Him. When we use the name of the Lord, we are to use it with respect and honor. It is not to be used casually. We are talking about the creator of the universe, the one who created each one of us. We show respect for God’s name in the way that we speak it and how we use it.

Don’t blaspheme

Leviticus 24:16 (ESV)  Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

Blasphemy was considered a very serious offense in the Old Testament law with the penalty of death for anyone who blasphemed the name of the Lord. In Leviticus two men were fighting and one cursed the other using the name of the Lord God. Moses inquired of the Lord what to do with the blasphemer and God spoke that he was to be stoned to death. Misusing the Lord’s name in blasphemy is a serious offense.

In the New Testament, Jesus said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit could never be forgiven, it was an eternal sin. Blasphemy in that account was attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to demons. We must be careful to not misuse God’s name. 

Because our culture, in written and oral form, often misuses God’s name, it is easy to succumb to peer pressure and talk like those around us. We should ask God to help us use His name with respect in all we say. We should eliminate slang forms of God’s name from our vocabulary. This commandment from the Old Testament still applies to us today, as the New Testament repeatedly confirms. The way to avoid misusing God’s name is to ask God to help us to fear Him and His name. To ask God to help us break bad habits of speech and replace them with good ones.

Sin dishonors God’s name

Sin of any kind, including misusing God’s name, dishonors God. The Bible teaches that all sin is first and foremost a sin against God, even though it may be a sin against another person. Not only does sin affect our relationships with God and other people, it also impacts other people’s perceptions of God. Sin of any kind has tragic consequences, not all of which are immediately visible. Sin dishonors God’s name.

Don’t defy God

Numbers 15:30-31 (NIV2011)  “ ‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the LORD and must be cut off from the people of Israel.  Because they have despised the LORD’s word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them.’ ”

There are two types of sin talked about in the Bible, which are not commonly talked about. These two types of sin are unintentional sin and intentional sin, described in these verses as sinning defiantly. Defiant sin is sin where you know something is wrong, you know you shouldn’t do it, but you deliberately choose to sin. In these verse, defiant sin is characterizes as blaspheming the Lord and His name. The penalty is the same as the penalty for blasphemy, being cut off from Israel through the death penalty. In particular, defiant sin dishonor’s God’s name. It certainly does not demonstrate any respect of fear of the Lord and His name.

In the New Testament Hebrews 10:26 says that there is no sacrifice for sins or forgiveness for those who go on sinning deliberately. Not only must we be careful not to sin defiantly, we mustn’t …

Don’t hurt God’s reputation

Romans 2:23-24 (ESV)  You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.  For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

These verses were written to Jews who claimed to keep God’s law, by broke the law and so dishonored God. The result was the God’s name was blasphemed by the Gentiles, because of the hypocrisy of the Jews. God’s reputation suffered by their dishonoring of God. The same is true today. If we as Christians or followers of Christ, dishonor God’s name, the unbelievers around us will take notice and both our reputation and God’s reputation will suffer. Our words and actions have far-reaching consequences, both for good and bad.

Today, we’re focusing on how God wants us to control our tongues to honor Him and His name. The dictionary defines profanity as blasphemous or obscene speech. We’ve already talked about blasphemous speech. The Bible also directs us against using obscene speech, which also dishonors God. How can we grow in self-control our speech so that we don’t dishonor the Lord God? Bad habits are broken by replacing them with good habits. First of all, to break habits of profanity, don’t expose yourself to others using profanity, whether in person or on television, movies, etc. Have the courage to tell others around that you’d appreciate them not using that kind of language in your presence. Use it as an opportunity not to judge someone else, but to let them know that you want to honor and fear God and His name. Replace any talk that dishonors God with language that honors God and tells others about how wonderful He is.

Integrity honors God

So let’s look at some positive ways that we can honor God’s name with our words and our lives.

Proverbs 20:7 (ESV)  The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Integrity honors God and brings blessing into our lives and families. With respect to speech, a person of integrity …

Keep your word

Matthew 5:34-37 (ESV)  But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,  or by the earth, for it is his footstool … Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

An oath is when you swear to do something and use God’s name or something else to show that you really mean what you say. Jesus here is saying that as a believer, we should be people of integrity. If we have to use an oath to convince someone else we are telling the truth or will keep our promises, something is wrong. When we say Yes we are going to do something, we should always keep our promise, even if is no longer convenient. That type of integrity is honoring God and His name, even though we don’t use His name in our promises. We don’t want to hurt God’s reputation, we want to …

Safeguard God’s reputation

2 Corinthians 9:13 (ESV)  By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,  

This passage is about an offering that the church in Corinth was preparing to give to the persecuted church in Jerusalem. The church had made a promise to give this offering, but had not yet completed it. Paul was encouraging them to keep their word regarding the offering. This display of integrity would not only help the church in Jerusalem, it would also give them an opportunity to glorify God. So, God’s reputation would not only be safeguarded, but enhanced. Integrity honors God.

Let’s think for a minute about what happens when we are not people of integrity. Lack of integrity would be making a promise and not keeping it. Lack of integrity would be saying we’re Christians and then not living like Christians. When we as Christians say one thing, but do another, what would we be called? We would rightly be called hypocrites. What impact does hypocritical behavior have on those who are not Christians? It certainly doesn’t motivate them to become believers. In fact, the excuse that churches are full of hypocrites is one of the reasons that people stay away from church. It’s important that as believers, we are people of our word and that our words honor God and His name.

The Bible refers to believers as the Lord God’s ambassadors. An ambassador represents a country and its government to another country. As Christ’s ambassadors, we are to represent the Kingdom of God to a world that largely does not know God. What we say and do should represent God’s kingdom, following in Jesus’ footsteps. This morning, we need to ask ourselves, do my words and actions honor God’s name all the time? Do I sometimes misuse God’s name and so dishonor the Lord? Am I a person of integrity who always keeps their word? Does my life enhance God’s reputation to those around me? If we’re honest, I think that all of us have some room for improvement. So let’s ask God to help us honor and fear His name in all of life. As we do, He will bless us and our families.