Summary: Ways that God’s name is used in vain contrasted to ways God’s name is used with value.


Paul Dickinson has written a book called Names. He has a hobby of collecting strange and unusual names. Sometimes, he says names seem to be prophetic. In 1941 there were two men who were executed in the electric chair in Florida and their names were Will Burn and Will Frizzle. There was a window washer in Montreal who fell while he was washing windows and died. His name was Will Drop. Others he said seemed destined for certain occupations. Dan Druff became a barber. Jeff Treadwell became a Podiatrist. Goforth and Ketchum, two guys became police partners. O’Neil and Pray became partners in church equipment. Zoltan Ovary, a gynecologist. P.P. Peters became a urologist. A plaster contractor was named Will Crumble.

What’s in a name? God says a lot when it is His name. That’s what the third Commandment is all about. Why is God so sensitive about His name? Your name represents three things: (1) Reputation – “He’s making a name for himself” or, “He’s got a good name.” When I say a name you automatically think of his/her reputation, such as: Sadaam Hussien, Hitler, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham. (2) Character – It represents your being once you have established yourself. Bible names often had to do with character. Achan’s name meant trouble. Jacob’s name meant supplanter or trickster until his character was changed and God changed his name to Israel meaning God rules. (3) Authority – When you speak concerning things under your influence it carries authority. You might more nearly heed the advice of Gary Price if he is speaking about the law than you would, say, Mike Tyson. You might put your trust more safely in something that Billy Graham says about the end of the world than by, say, Nostradomus. Names carry authority.

When we think of misusing God’s name or using His name in vain, we think of swearing. Swearing is a real bad use of God’s name but it is not the only bad use of His name. Here are some different ways you can use God’s name in vain:


A. You Can Use God’s Name to Insult

This is swearing or using profanity when irritated. America is the most foul-mouthed nation in the world and becoming more so. Hollywood thinks a movie won’t sell if it is not loaded with profanity. They don’t believe the public wants to see a “G” rated movie so they throw in lots of bad language or violence or sex to get an “R” rating. The language may have nothing to do with the story. It’s true of books, magazines and records as well.

Profanity is a part of the sports scene as well. Somebody said if cussing and cheating are crimes then golf should be illegal. There was a farmer who was late coming home for dinner. His wife said, “Did the wagon break down?” The farmer said, “No, on the way home I picked up the preacher and from that point on the mule didn’t understand a thing I said.”

Why do people swear? They think they are more macho but they really lack emotional control. But, any idiot can swear. It takes discipline to not swear. Maturity in a believer’s life is seen by the language he uses.

B. You Can Use God’s Name to Indulge

“God doesn’t want me to cut the grass today.” “I didn’t feel led to get out of bed.” “God doesn’t want me to honor that contract.”

Using God for a cover to indulge yourself. We excuse ourselves and blame god for it. “I know I said I would finish that job for you but God has given me more important things to do now.”

C. You Can Use God’s Name to Intimidate

Some people are good at this. “God told me what you should do.” “I believe God wants you to lend me money.” Some TV evangelists are good at this except they don’t say “lend.” They might say, God has told me that if you don’t send our ministry $1000 today we will have to go off the air.”

Parents will use this against their kids, “If you don’t stop that God will get you.” Intimidation.

One spouse to another, “I’ve prayed about this and I believe god wants us to have a new car, a Mercedes.”

This amounts to forgery. Forgery is when someone uses another’s name to get something they want. There are a lot of spiritual forgeries taking place. “God told me…” Illus. When I was called to one church one man told me, “ I didn’t vote against you coming but I need to tell you that God told me you weren’t the right man for the job.” It was a unanimous vote by the church and I had confirmation in my spirit that it was indeed God’s will. This man was guilty of “spiritual forgery.”

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