Summary: #3 in 10 Commandment Series
“WHAT’S IN A NAME?”
TEXT: Ex. 20:7 Eph. 1:1-14
INTRO: How important are names? What kind of images are created when we hear names like: Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Benedict Arnold, Ted Bundy, or names like United States of America, Russia, Germany, Africa, etc.
Obviously there is great power in names, they reflect a myriad of images and ideas in our minds. They identify certain traits or characteristics when they are names of people groups or nations, they connect us to the past through our histories. We use names to connect ourselves with others.
In some cases we can bear a name and it gives us power, or we can bear a name and bring shame on that name.
ILLUS: An Ambassador from the United States to another country literally represents our nation. An attack on an ambassador is considered an attack against all Americans, and attack on an embassy is an attack on the United States. If an ambassador lives shamefully all America is considered in the same way, if an ambassador acts with great character and dignity, Americans are perceived this way also. An ambassador NEVER speaks for the United States without checking first with our government so that what they say is clearly what America says. This is true also when we call ourselves “Christian” – we bear Christ’s name Do our actions and speech show that we bear it in vain or in victory?
When the 3rd commandment says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God in vain…” 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!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we reflect the name of God to this world like ambassadors, and that failure to represent Him faithfully in the way that we live or speak means misusing His name.
I. ACCEPTANCE Ex. 20:7
A. Responsibilities of His Name 20:7a
1. Israel had been asked to accept God’s name, they were to be “called by my name says the Lord”.
a. To “bear” His name was to also accept the responsibilities to represent His name to the world.
b. This is the point in this commandment, that they NOT misuse His name by misrepresenting it to others.
2. This is still true for those of use who today “bear” Christ’s name as “CHRISTIANS”.
ILLUS: “What other people think of me is becoming less and less important; what they think of Jesus because of me is critical.” - Cliff Richards (1940- )
3. When Israel accepted God’s covenant, they accepted the responsibility to correctly represent Him to the world.
a. They were not to be ashamed of His name.
b. They were not to malign it either.
c. They were to uphold His name, a people called by His name.
ILLUS: The daughter of our pastor was asked to give the closing prayer at her high school graduation. A Jewish student was asked to give the opening prayer. The principal asked our pastor’s daughter if she would refrain from using the name of Christ in her prayer, "lest someone of other faiths be offended." She replied she would be glad to omit Christ’s name from her closing prayer if the Jewish student would mention Christ’s name in his opening prayer, "so that I and those of my faith not be offended." She was allowed to give her prayer as originally planned. -- Carolyn Copeland, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 4.
4. Do we uphold His name responsibly in our lives?
B. Revering His Name 20:7b
1. God does hold us responsible for the use or misuse of His name.
2. God’s name can literally be rebuked or revered on the basis of our life and lifestyle, the witness of our life!
ILLUS: At the end of World War I, Herbert Hoover, later to become President of the United States, led the allied relief efforts in Europe. He kept hundreds of thousands from starving, and a new word entered the Finnish language. In Finland, to “hoover” means “to be kind, to help.” If someone coined a word from your name, what would it be? -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
3. It is not as much the sinner that God takes to task for cursing His name as much as it is when His people called by His name misuse it, then we are the ones to use profanity, we profane his name when we don’t revere it through our lives.
4. Too often we have cringed at unbelievers who use God’s name as an expression of cursing, but how much more damaging is it when a believer maligns God’s name by his actions and attitudes!