Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Part 3 looks at the relevance of the 3rd commandment.

What’s in a name?

May 3, 2009

Exodus 20:7

I would like to start with a little game. This is a word association game, and it will be fun. When I mention a name or a place, I want you to say your first thought, don’t scream it, just say it nicely. Okay, you’ve got the rules, now here we go . . .

SLIDE The Indiana Pacers CLICK The Indianapolis Colts

SLIDE Larry Bird CLICK Dennis Rodman

SLIDE Motel 6 CLICK The Hyatt Hotel

SLIDE Abraham Lincoln CLICK Adolf Hitler


When we hear these name, places or teams, very distinct images come to mind. We come up with a variety of thoughts and even emotions. When you hear the name of a loved one, you feel joy and happiness; and a smile comes to your face. But when you hear the name of someone who has hurt you very different feelings and images come to your heart and mind, don’t they.

You see, whether we are right or not about our perception, our perception is our reality. It’s just like what we’re going through in the world right now about the swine flu. People all over the world think you catch swine flu from a pig, which is why Egypt was wanting to kill all 300,000 + pigs in their country. But we’ve learned that you don’t catch swine flu from a pig.

You see, names have great meaning and significance. We are identified by our names, and frankly we don’t like anyone mispronouncing our names, or calling us by the wrong names. Although, one of the joys of having my last name is the fact that most telephone salespeople mispronounce my name, so I know where that call’s heading.

In biblical times, names had a very special meaning. Your name often described your character and nature. People had their names changed according to their character and talents. We see Jacob means to supplant. He supplanted his brother Esau. Esau meant hairy, which he was. Abraham meant father of many nations. Peter means the rock. And that list goes on.

When someone hears your name, they immediately think of certain images of who you are. So, when we think about God and this 3rd commandment, we must understand ~


What’s in a name? Everything!!

Everything is predicated by your name, because your name is who you are. It’s what people think about when they hear your name, it’s what your first thoughts are about others when you hear their names.

In the very same way, when we think about God, God’s character and nature are wrapped up in His name. The question is: How can we bring honor to God’s name? How can we cause people to think good things about God when they hear His name, or simply when they hear us speak?

Today we are looking at the 3rd commandment. It is just one verse, and can be found in Exodus 20:7 ~ The NIV reads,


You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. – NKJV

This is serious stuff with the LORD. He does not want any one of us misrepresenting, misusing or using His name in an empty manner. If we’re going to take up His Name, and be called Christians - Christ followers, then we better represent His name well.


In Leviticus 24:10-15, we read a story about two men who got into a fight, during the fight one of the men basically cursed God’s name. Ultimately, God told Moses 15 If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; 16 anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him.

Now, aren’t you glad we live in a different day and age? Otherwise, we’d run out of stones. This story illustrates just how serious God is about His name. Profanity has no place in the speech of those who consider themselves followers of God. My friends, if you use God’s name in your speech, then make sure you use it appropriately and reverently.

This means, you don’t use God’s name in vain. When you use God’s name in vain, this means you are invoking God’s name in worthless and empty ways. There is no substance to what you are saying. This also means you don’t ask God to damn something. Think about what you’re asking God to do? You’re asking God to do something which is totally not in His nature. You want God to destroy something or someone just because it didn’t work to your advantage. You want God to cast something to hell for eternity. Is that what you really want to happen?

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