Summary: Part three of this series discusses what it means to the God's name in vain today.
The Ten Commandments Part 3
This is part three of my series on the Ten Commandments. This morning we will be examining the third commandments as found in Exodus 20:7. This commandment says; “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” The Hebrew word for vain is “Shav.” This word means, “deceit; deception; malice; falsity; vanity; and emptiness.” If you look this word up in the English dictionary it is defined as, “without effect or avail; to no purpose; in an improper or irreverent manner.” As you understand this definition, the one thing that stands out is there is no real “purpose” and I will touch on this more later. As you listen this morning, I ask that you take notes; review what the Scriptures says; and then ask yourself, “What was my reason for using God or Jesus’ name?” Don’t ask yourself this question yet, just write it down and so that when I refer to it later you already have the context.
God told the Children of Israel that they were not to take His name in vain (use His name with deception, malice, falsity and emptiness) and that those who did would not go unpunished. I believe when the verse says we will not go unpunished that the meaning today is different from the death aligned to it in the Old Testament. The Bible says God is just and that there is no darkness in Him. If this is true, and it is, how does God punish? One way to answer this question is this: when we disobey we walk away from God’s hand of blessings and protection. In other words, we set ourselves up for punishment by rejecting what God has said. When we disobey, God is powerless to stop the punishment from coming. Think about that for a moment. When we sin, God cannot stop the consequences of that sin from coming into our lives. And this happens when we take His name in vain. Do you see how serious this is? I know many people teach that through love and grace there is no more punishment for our sins but does the Word teach this? I cannot give you a guide book that says if you do “A” then “B” is the result. What I can tell you is that for every action there is a reaction and unrepentant sins has a reaction. I want you to keep this mind as we review this commandment in more detail.
Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” His name is a strong tower that the righteous runs into for safety and yet we use that name in many casual conversations oftentimes setting ourselves up to be punished. So what does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? One way to take His name in vain is when we swear by His name – even in our court of Law. When we say “so help me God” we’re saying that God will give witness, will be in agreement, with what we are going to say. So, if a person does not tell the truth, then he is saying God will tell a lie just like he will tell a lie. Now I want you to think about what I just said: the person is saying God will tell a lie. We know that’s a lie. Why? The bible tells us who the father of lies is in John 8:44 and it’s not God! The Children of Israel, having taken Jehovah for their God, would only make mention of His name in reverence. They would only speak His name when appropriate and would not do so haphazardly or casually. They treated God’s name like we do 911. A normal person will only call 911 when they need something or in an emergency. We know when we call 911 help will be coming in most cases. It’s the one number that everyone knows and teaches their kids to call. We teach our kids to only call that number when it’s an emergency. We teach our kids to respect that number as we do. We even have laws on the books about those who call that number in non-emergency situations. Think about it. The 911 number is more reverenced that the name of God or Jesus! When the Children of Israel called on the name of God, they knew help would be coming. We take God’s name in vain through hypocrisy (making a profession of God’s name and not living up to it.) And we all know that when we curse using His name that’s a big “no-no”! But let’s also be honest. After all, we’re family. Some of us, in the past, have made use of these examples and maybe even recently and we need to repent. To repent means that we will not do this in the future because we now know better! You cannot repent just because I tell you that you need to, you actually have to believe that you are wrong and are truly sorry. I hope by the conclusion of this message this is where your heart will be.