Summary: Don't dishonor the name of God by word or deed. We need God's help: the Holy Spirit, confession and cleansing, filling our minds with good things.
(optional children’s sermon: Use a Coke can. The Coca Cola name is so valuable, that if anyone uses the name without permission, they can be sued. God’s name is more valuable!)
(Project on the screen: What is the most valuable brand name in world? [Source: Interbrand.com]) The name of the brand is its image…reputation…a promise of quality.
A trademark is protected, because it represents the essence, the reputation, of the product or company.
God’s Name represents HIS ESSENCE and HIS REPUTATION
The name of God stands for who he is. For example, Psalm 124:8 says, “Our help is IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, the MAKER of heaven and earth.” Isaiah 30:27 says, “See, the NAME of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire.”
Even more, God’s name is his reputation. Psalm 8 begins and ends with, “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” Psalm 135:13 says, “Your NAME, LORD, endures forever, your RENOWN, LORD, through all generations.” In the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, God’s NAME and God’s RENOWN are the same.
Because God’s name is his reputation, God acts to preserve his good name. Psalm 104:8 celebrates how God brought his people out of Egypt: “He saved them FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE, to make his mighty power known.”
The New Testament picks up the same themes, applying them to Jesus. At Pentecost, Peter invites his hearers to enter into a relationship with God through faith, saying, “Everyone WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD will be saved. (Acts 2:21) The Apostle Paul says that when Christ returns, “AT THE NAME OF JESUS every knee will 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.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
God’s name is the most valuable name in the universe, because it stands for God himself. As Peter said in Acts 4:12,”There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
God’s people must honor and protect the name of God above all other names. That is why God said, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO NOT MISUSE THE NAME OF THE LORD?
• Obviously, We should not SPEAK the name of God lightly or without meaning
The third commandment does not refer to vulgar language. Vulgar language IS offensive to God, as Paul says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place.” (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4)
This commandment is about something else; it tells us not to speak of God lightly or without meaning.
We hear God’s name spoken without meaning all the time (OMG—“O my God” or “Jesus Christ.”) It is strange: A common word for manure is not allowed on broadcast TV, but using the name of God lightly is totally acceptable to the censors!
Jews were so serious about not taking the name of God in vain that they would not even say “Yahweh” (or Jehovah), for fear of using the Name in vain. When they came to his name in the Scriptures, they said aloud, “Lord.”
Because the name of God represents his actions, we should also be careful not to take lightly what God does. For that reason, we don’t use casually words like “hell,” “damn,” or “mercy.” Even words like “God bless” might be said without meaning.
Jesus pointed out that substitute words for God should also be avoided when trying to give weight to a promise: “Do not swear…by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.”
Perhaps the worst place to speak the Name of God without meaning is in worship! If God’s people say or sing God’s praises without meaning, or go through the motions of prayer speaking pious words, God would rather have them shut their mouths! Jesus quoted Jeremiah 29 when he said of the Pharisees in Matthew 15:9, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”
If we are saying all the right words but not really taking God seriously, our words are truly in vain. If we the leave sanctuary unchanged, to dishonor God in the world, GOD’S NAME is dishonored. The commandment goes beyond what we say.