Summary: a message to help my audience understand the ways that God’s name is to be rightly used and to take deliberate action to make that happen in their worlds
Story - 2 elderly women in a church were discussing the problems of growing older.
One said, "The worst thing is when your memory starts to go. I've known you all my life, and I can't think of your name. What is it?"
The second lady thought for a moment and said, "Do you need an answer right now?"
Another man, struggling with forgetfulness, visited a doctor. “Can you tell me your name?” The man (directing something in the air with hands) “Arthur.” “OK, but what’s all this?” “You know – ‘Happy birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, …’”
Good Sunday School teachers also give attention to the names of people in their class, like
Lynne Hartke, Chandler, AZ. She says
While serving as a missionary in northern Canada, I was making an attendance chart for my Sunday school class of young native Americans. Things were going well until I came to one 9-year-old boy. "What's your name?" I asked.
"Zachariah Messtowageesic," he answered.
I gulped and asked how he spelled his last name.
He said, "Just like it sounds."
Names matter. And, according to the 3rd command, God’s name matters – a lot.
The general topic is PROFANITY – again we’re looking at a command that’s concerned with the way we relate to God - an OT command that has to do with God’s nature, His likes and dislikes, and what we need to know to be pleasing to Him today, not just a command for BC Israelites.
Our word “profanity” is from 2 Latin words that mean “out of the temple.” There’s a real word picture there that helps us understand what it means: imagine it – One day, in a court appearance, Jim Horn runs into a courtroom judge’s chambers while the judge is gone, and he finds that robe. So he takes it and puts it on, and he wears it into the trial. In fact, he just wears it all day – and when he arrives at home that evening, he’s still wearing that judge’s robe. Shame on you, Jim! Now, what has he just done? He’s taken something that’s special, that’s intended to be used only in a very special way, and he has treated it like it was just common.
That’s what profanity is – it’s taking what is supposed to be holy and set apart, and treating it like it’s common.
The Lord told Aaron and the other priests: Leviticus 10:10 “You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean,”
But when something is profaned, it causes us to say, “Hey, that’s out of place. That belongs in there!” So we arrive at the third command in God’s Big 10. Where does God’s name belong when we use it?
Exodus 20:7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Is God just touchy about the way we speak? Well, yes, He is, but it’s deeper than that. A person’s name represents the person. The way we regard a name or react to a name or use a name says something about the way we think of that person attached to that name.
Needless to say, God’s name is misused fairly commonly. Here’s 5 ways. Most of us here will feel OK about the first 2 – they’re “out there” when it comes to the way God’s name is misused. Then there are 3 more that we’ll need to check in ourselves. So, be asking as we go over these, “Am I somehow profaning the name of God?”
Ways the Name of God is misused
1. As a Curse
God’s name is holy, still for some people that Name is called on to damn. What could be more unholy, more out of context, more profane, than damning someone in God’s name? Besides that, who ever granted us the right to order such a thing? Jn 3:18 says that’s up to the individual person, not me or you. People are condemned – are damned – because they don’t believe in the name of Jesus.
2. As an Exclamation Point
Have you ever heard someone misuse the Lord’s name and then apologize by saying, “I didn’t mean anything by it”? That’s just the point. God’s name shouldn’t be used unless we do mean something by it.
Our language says a lot about us
Matthew 12:34-37 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."