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Summary: Jesus continues the teaching of the Third Commandment by demonstrating that God's name and integrity is to be upheld, and we are to take the issue of swearing and blasphemy seriously by controlling our language.


Matthew 12:22-32

“Not Just Sticks and Stones”

Let’s do an “Eavesdropping Accuracy Test”. I’ll tell you a phrase and you try and think what sort of person would use such a phrase.

• “We may refuse or reduce a claim, or cancel this policy, or also both if you fail in your Duty of Disclosure as detailed in this booklet” … insurance agent.

• “Light up the hose (more hoses) ” and “Make up all (get ready for the next fire)” … fireman.

• “We had to cantilever some of the joists” … carpenter.

• “The agpar score was 10” … delivery nurse or paediatrician.

• “You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so as anything you do say will be used as evidence in Court” … policeman.

• “The motherboard has failed and is no longer able to give P.O.S.T. diagnostic signals” … computer analyst.

The point of the exercise is to show that our words matter.

A delivery nurse wouldn’t tell new-born baby that anything they say will be used against then in court.

A computer analyst is not going to “light up the hose” onto his computer.

Words matter.

They give an indication of your interests and values.

They show what goes on inside us.

They demonstrate the sort of language we allow ourselves to have.

And because words matter God has given us a commandment that talks about our words.

7 “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

Usually, when we read this command, we see it as applying to blasphemy.

“O my God I got such a surprise”

“Jesus Christ that really ticks me off”.


It’s all blasphemy isn’t it. Taking the name of the Lord our God and using it to fill up a space in our vocabulary. Putting the name of God on the same level as many other four letter words which dominate language today.

We wish it wasn’t the case – but this is the world we live in.

Many people have no relationship with God, so they don’t even see blasphemy as an issue. It is a real problem isn’t it.

But here is the bigger problem.

Because the commandment doesn’t say “you shall not blaspheme”.

It says, You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.

It isn’t just an issue of language … it is an issue of representation.

Does God get upset when not-yet-believing people misuse his name?

To a certain extent he does, but many of these people don’t know any better.

What makes God more upset is when His own people misuse His name.

Let me put the command up again.

7 “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

Now notice that the word LORD is all in capital letters.

This is the name – sometimes we use the word Jehovah, or Yahweh to represent the Hebrew word.

It is a powerful name.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Gen 2:7)

The LORD gives our very breath.

The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” (Gen 12:7)

The LORD called the people into a covenant

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘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, the name you shall call me from generation to generation (Ex 3:15)

The LORD has on going care for the people – he saved them

When the people disobeyed the LORD is the one who chastised so they would come back. The LORD sent the people into exile, and He returned them as well.

And this is just the beginning. The LORD is involved in so many ways.

6114 times in the OT you can find the name of the LORD.

Every aspect of your relationship with God is found in His Name.

What you say as His representative.

What you do as His representative.

It matters.

So understand that this isn’t just about blasphemy and swearing.

Because the reality is – if we want to – we can easily control our language.

I know this to be true … and so do you.

We know we can control our language because we adjust our conversations according to the people that we are with.

It is much easier not to swear when other Christians are around. Isn’t it.

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