Summary: Christians can empty out the name of the Lord and turn people away from Christ.
September 12 2002
Central Christian Church
St Petersburg, Fl
What¡¦s in a name? Is a last name of Smith, Cook, Heckathorne, Bedy or Percival significant?
I believe there was a time in days past when a good name was essential. It was considered a high achievement to maintain the integrity of a good name.
Judge Harry Fogle used to teach me that a good name and integrity were two things that could never be taken away from me. That a good name was available to rich people or even poor people like me. If I had a good name and was a person of integrity, I was rich.
A name reflects who we are, in antiquity the character of a person was expressed by his name.
We used to name our children in ways that would express the character of the family and the hopes and aspirations we had for the child.
I tell my children we are Christians and we are Bedy¡¦s those names govern how we behave.
When I got an unfavorable report from Beth Oliver about one of my sons behavior on the playground that was extremely inappropriate, I told him in this family we are Christians and we are Bedy¡¦s and we do not act the way the world acts. If you are going to live in this house then you will live as a Christian first and then as a Bedy as we all try together to live as Christ. Oh I am not saying I expect my family to be perfect, those expectations disappeared a long time ago. But I am saying we will all hold each other accountable to hold up the name of Christ and live appropriately.
You see when you boil it all down it¡¦s not just the Bedy name that matters, but it¡¦s the Bedy name as it is connected to the name of Christ that really matters.
It is impossible for us to separate a person¡¦s name from their character. If you don¡¦t believe me try it for yourselves just now as I mention some names and pay attention to what your mind does.
Ready? (Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Abraham Lincoln)
OK what are you thinking?
Now try it again. (Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gaci, Charles Manson)
Or. (Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon and John Kennedy)
I think you get the picture and you see what a name can suggest? To me these groups of names ranged from selflessness, and the depravity of the human spirit to selfishness.
The name conjures up an image and so God says about his name: Exo 20:7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Some translations do not take His name in vain. o
From the same as H7722 in the sense of desolating; evil (as destructive),
literally (ruin) or morally (especially guile); figuratively idolatry (as false,
subjectively), uselessness (as deceptive, objectively; also adverbially in vain):¡X
false (-ly), lie, lying, vain, vanity.
Most people interpret this commandment to mean that we shall not swear saying ¡§Jesus Christ¡¨ or ¡§gosh darn it¡¨ or any other vulgar statement and that is certainly true. Even last Wednesday and Sunday in the memorial services for 9/11 I heard people in the video say ¡§Oh my god¡¨ they are not alluding to God or even beginning a prayer to God-it is just a statement they make.
However, when the 3rd commandment says, ¡§You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God in vain¡K¡¨ it is NOT speaking about unbelievers who use God¡¦s name in cursing, it is speaking about God¡¦s people failing to represent His name correctly by their lifestyle!
So what God is literally saying to His children as I say to my children is do not ruin my good name.
Although this commandment was written to Israel it is also written to us as Christians and when we take on the name of Christ, than we better act like Christians, we better live like Christ, because when we don¡¦t we have ruined His good name.
If we go to church and call ourselves Christians and then do not live like Christians that sin will not go unpunished.
When we live like heathens we destroy our witness and we hear it said, ¡§well if he or she is a Christian-well then I don¡¦t want to be a Christian-if that is how they act.¡¨
If we suffer let us be people who suffer for doing good, for doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord. If we suffer for Christ He gives us His name ¡§Faithful Witness.¡¨
Taking the Lord¡¦s name in vain is more than just cussing when we hit a bad golf shot or smash our thumb with the hammer.