Summary: There are people around you who are not only watching you but keenly observing your every action and reaction. Their only open Bible and to see Christ is you. During the past years and till to date many believers have continually put the name of Christ at

Opening illustration: In a New York Times interview, a widely recognized man voiced his displeasure with a fast-food chain in whose TV commercials he had appeared. He felt that the quality of some of the items he advertised had been diminishing. Since people associated his name with the product, he didn’t want the corporation’s lowered standards to damage his own name.

The Lord is also jealous for His name. In Ezekiel 36, He declared that He had been disgraced by the rebellious practices of His chosen people Israel. They had “profaned” His name among the nations (v. 21). The same thing happens today when we as Christians live in disobedience to the Lord. Our sinful actions reflect poorly on Him. We’re not just hurting our own reputation when we fail to live up to God’s holy standards - we’re giving unbelievers an excuse for their low opinion of Him.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus carefully protected the name of His heavenly Father. If we fall short of His example, we can be sure that the Lord will keep His promise to discipline His people for His “holy name’s sake” (v. 22). God’s jealousy for His character should motivate us to live more faithfully for Him. Let’s live for the Lord - for His name’s sake. (Illustration from Mart DeHaan, Our Daily Bread)

Let us turn to Ezekiel 36 in our Bibles and check out how God’s Name is at stake …

Introduction: Now you are God’s representative and that’s a heavy responsibility to be God’s representative, but that’s what we are. And the people are drawing their conclusion of Christianity, of Jesus Christ, from what they see you do. That’s heavy. God help us that we will be proper representatives of our Lord. That people will come to know that He is so loving, that He is so kind, that He wants to help, that He will go out of His way to help. And let us, O God, be a true representation of what You are to the world around us who so desperately need to know the truth about God.

Paul writing to the Corinthians said, "You are my living epistle, and you are known and read of all men" (II Corinthians 3: 2). People may never pick up a Bible to crack its pages, they may never read the Bible, but they’re reading your life. And they’re drawing their opinions of Jesus Christ by what they see in you.

Now, God said when Israel was scattered into the nations, they profaned the name of the Lord. They caused people to hate God. They didn’t represent God in those nations where they were scattered, and so people were cursing God and cursing the name of God. And so God now declares, "Look, not for your sake I’m going to bring you back. Not because you’re so good or you’re deserving, but for My name’s sake I’m going to do it. My name that has been profaned among the heathen."

(A) How do we put God’s Name at stake?

1. It is all about I, ME, MY - Selfish (vs. 17, 19)

Proverbs 14: 12; 16: 25 tells us that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

What would you guess is one of the first words most children say? Is it not the word, “no”? What might be the second word they learn to say? Is it not, “my” or “mine”? Now, I know we could debate this, but certainly we would agree that one of the first words spoken by most children is “my” or “mine”. Even in the first years of our life, we are inclined to be me-oriented.

Because God has chosen me to be among his people, a citizen in his everlasting kingdom, my life is not just about me being for me, but my life is all about ME being for YOU! And you, being chosen by God, are not to live for yourselves but your life is all about you being for YOU … being for the people of this community. It’s all about Me and You being for all the people of this country and the world because God is all about being for these people!

2. It is about my IDOLS – Idolatry (v. 18)

Exodus 20: 3; Deut. 5: 7 instructs us that, “You shall have no other gods before Me and not to make any graven images.”

But we must not imagine this species of idolatry is confined to the rich and great. In this also, "the toe of the peasant" (as our poet speaks) "treads upon the heel of the courtier." Thousands in low as well as in high life sacrifice to this idol; seeking their happiness (though in a more humble manner) in gratifying their outward senses. It is true, their meat, their drink, and the objects that gratify their other senses, are of a coarser kind. But still they make up all the happiness they either have or seek, and usurp the hearts which are due to God.

The second species of idolatry mentioned in the NT is the lust of the eyes (1 John 2: 16): That is, the seeking happiness in gratifying the imagination; (chiefly by means of the eyes) that internal sense, which is as natural to men as either sight or hearing. This is gratified by such objects as are either grand, or beautiful, or uncommon. But as to grand objects, it seems they do not please any longer than they are new. Were we to survey the Pyramids of Egypt daily for a year, what pleasure would they then give? Nay, what pleasure does a far grander object than these …

Today believers are trying to pursue "Living a G Rated Life in an X Rated World."

Illustration: Many years ago a Hindu lady gave her life to Christ at one of our night vigil meetings in the underground church but never gave up her idols. It took many months for her to realize and be convicted by the Holy Spirit to physically and mentally remove them from her home and life.

3. It is MY WAY or NO WAY – Pride & Arrogance (v. 20)

When one becomes a Christian, there is a radical change of direction in one’s relationship to God and to his or her fellow believers. It is not uncommon for Christians to insist that it is my way or no way. Paul addresses this mindset in 1 Corinthians 13. As stated above, Paul waived his rights in order to win others to Christ. Paul details this mindset in the eighth chapter of this same epistle (8: 1-13). Listen once more to Paul as he drives home the very heart of Christian unity: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15: 7). Jesus has accepted every believer with “warts and all.” Just as Christ has accepted believers with imperfection in their lives and imperfection in their knowledge, so Christians are to accept one another.

Illustration: Companies that compete for consumer dollars know the importance of protecting their name and reputation. Shoddy quality or poor service can cause profits to plummet.

While on a trip, I saw a car rental company experience a customer-service disaster. When people arrived at the rental counter to pick up their keys, they faced long lines, discourteous staff, and inconvenient conditions. Their reaction was predictable: frustration and anger. I doubt that many of those customers would ever rent cars from that company again. The agency’s name had become an object of mockery.

This reminds me of how Israel’s behavior brought disrepute to God’s name. Because they had lived like their pagan neighbors, the Lord scattered them among the nations. The unbelieving world laughed at both Israel and the name of her God.

Let’s bring this situation up-to-date. As Christians, we bear the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. What does the world think of Him by what they see in us? Bringing honor to His name is more important than a great corporation living up to its name. Our lives really have only one purpose - to reflect our Lord. We must guard against doing anything that will cause others to profane His holy name.

(B) What does God do for His Name’s Sake?

1. Concerned about HIS REPUTATION (vs. 21-22)

Just as evil actions can damage the reputation of God in the world, good actions can bring honor to God, and this is called "sanctifying God’s name" (Kiddush HaShem). This means to live in such a way as to bring God glory - as when Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5: 16) The rabbis described it as one of three things: to live a life of integrity, carefully observing the biblical commands; or to do some heroic deed, like risking one’s life to save another; or even to be martyred to honor God. We think of spreading the gospel through information, but they point out that the world is watching our lives too.

God is as concerned about us as much as His reputation because we belong to Him. He is more than able to defend His reputation to a watching world. But for some unknown reason, He wants His kids to bear some responsibility in that regard, too. Heaven help us if our attitudes and actions reflect anything negative about Him to those who don’t know Him personally or to those who are weak in their faith. May our goal be to bring glory to Him in all we say and do. May we live in such a way that others see Him as truly magnificent.


In ancient thinking, a person’s name was connected with his authority and reputation. At first thought, God’s reputation doesn’t sound like it would be an issue, but the idea of his reputation growing greater and greater throughout the world is a central theme of the biblical story. At first, God taught only one nation, the Jews, how to live and he told them to be a "kingdom of priests" and a "light to the nations" so that the world may know about the true God of Israel (Exodus 19: 6). Then, in the coming of Christ, God made his identity more clear, and sent his people to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28: 19). The overall idea is that God’s reputation would expand over the earth as people come to know who he is. This is the means by which salvation is being brought to the world as people hear good things about God, and accept Christ as their Savior. We can see that God’s reputation, or God’s "name" is of critical importance for his plan of salvation.

In the Lord’s Prayer, the phrases "hallowed be your name", "your kingdom come", and "your will be done on earth" are related to each other in meaning. All of them are expressing the desire that God’s reputation grow on earth, that people accept God’s reign and desire to do his will.

3. Facilitates our SEPARATION from others – Call to be HOLY (vs. 24-25)

We all are aware that it is only the blood of Christ that cleanses us and makes us whole. And our repentance and acting upon it separates us from our idols. But in the NT the word used most frequently is hagios which also means “set apart, separate, in a class by itself.” According to these definitions, to be holy basically means to be separated from common use and set apart, or reserved, for special use. In both Old and New Testaments the term is applied to (1) things, (2) persons, and (3) God.

When applied to God it designates Him as the lofty, the heavenly, separated in space from men−dwelling on high. He is the majestic, the morally lofty, separated from the human, not only as a finite material creature, but as a sinful, impure creature. To Israel the name “Holy” or “Holy One” was the highest expression for God. It was the name for God absolutely; the name for God as transcendent above all the created world. He is wholly other; He stands utterly above the created world. He is in a category all to Himself.

When applied to things and persons, the basic idea of holy is not moral purity but relationship. To call a thing or a person holy is to say that they belong to God, are used in His service or dedicated to Him, or in some special way are His property. Nothing, except for God, is holy of itself or by nature. It becomes holy by being dedicated to God and His service.

It is God’s holiness that sets Him apart from everything else, and it is our holiness that sets us apart and makes us distinctive from the world. This word sums up every obligation of Christian living and every demand made upon us by the Lord.

For the Christian, then, holiness means belonging to God and becoming like the God to Whom we belong … Belonging to God: We are holy because we are His. Nothing in us makes us holy; belonging to Him makes us holy. This means that holiness is not primarily negative, but positive. We have been set apart for Him, for His pleasure, and for His purpose.

If we are separated to God then we are also separated from the world. If we are called to be holy even as He is holy, then the character of God must be considered. Thus the character of God becomes the standard of our own character, we become like the God to Whom we belong.

It is God’s holiness that causes Him to save us and He saves us so that we may become holy “even as He is holy.” We have been called to holiness. It may surprise some Christians to learn that God did not save them just so they could go to heaven when they die. Heaven is a bonus−a king of by-product of salvation. The real purpose behind God’s saving grace is holiness, not heaven.

As mentioned earlier, to be holy means that we are set apart for God’s special purpose. And that purpose is the manifestation of God’s character to the world. Having been bought with a price, we belong to God and are to glorify Him in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20). To glorify God means to reveal God as He is, to demonstrate His character. God is glorified when men see Him for what He is. What He is, is holy, and if we are to reveal Him as such, we must be holy.

A thing is wrong because God says it is, not because we can see the harm in it. Conversely, a thing is not right simply because it is innocent and harmless. Even if the psychologists, sociologists, and Hollywood celebrities could prove that homosexuality was physically normal, mentally healthy, emotionally safe, and socially acceptable, that would not make it morally right. It is sin, not because it is unnatural or harmful, but because God says it is. In the ignorance of our arrogance we believe our vote is necessary to elect something to sin-hood. Therefore why does God demand we be holy? The answer is simply−because; because He is holy, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11: 45; 1 Peter 1: 16) No other reason is given. No other is needed. The motivation for all Christian conduct is, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Illustration: If you ask for Kleenex, you won’t necessarily get that brand of tissue. The same is true if you request Scotch tape, a Coke, or a Xerox copy. Then there’s the Jeep, the Band-Aid, and the Thermos. Specific trademark names often take on broader meaning than the original product.

Those names, though, are important to the companies that own them. That’s why a corporation like the Coca Cola Company, which may have the most widely known trademark in the world, maintains a large legal department. It even has field inspectors to protect its “name.”

Much more is at stake, however, when the name of God or His Son Jesus Christ is misused. His is the most important name in all the world. That’s why He will one day show everyone the difference between how His name is abused and what it actually stands for. He will reveal to all living creatures why God and Jesus Christ should be used with the utmost respect and honor.

That is why we need to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness when we are guilty of disgracing His name. There is so much to be gained by using His name reverently, and there is so much to lose by taking it in vain. God is jealous for His holy name!

Application: (i) When others get to know you, will they want to know Christ?

(ii) We honor God’s name when we call Him our Father and live as obedient children.

(iii) God’s name—handle with care!