Today we are going to look at the third commandment, in Exodus chapter 20, at verse 7, and as I was preparing for this message I began to wonder if we really know and really understand what it means? Because it seems as if most people either intentionally ignore or purposefully make a mockery of this command. So what does it means for us to use the Lord’s name in a bad way? Today so many people say Jesus’ name negatively, publicly, loudly, and frequently; but what if we as a church were to get serious about God and ask how we might have been misusing the Lord’s name?
Now to start, I’ve just got to ask this question, “How many of you had parents who would wash your mouth out with soap if you had a “dirty mouth”? You know, when you say a certain word and mom’s like, “It’s time to eat soap”, right? So it didn’t take long before I learned that there was a list of good words and bad words and if I said a bad word my mom or dad would help fix it for me. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite that simple. In fact, I’m very convinced that it’s not, because I had a regular diet of (I think it was Dove) bar soap and spent many hours burping with bubbles coming out of my nose and mouth… and it wasn’t soap that eventually cleansed my mouth, it was a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. He was that live coal that cleansed my filthy lips (Isaiah 6:6).
So when it comes to the third commandment, here’s what God’s saying, we need to use good words… God words… for God things, because the God of the Bible is a God of glory. Yet when we treat him casually, using His name inconsequentially, just projecting and presenting God in an empty or meaningless way; he’s not glorified; he’s not exalted; he’s not honored; he’s not holy and different from us; and we portray him as common and much like us. And so we’re disrespectful and blasphemous of the name of the Lord.
And sometimes, we do this by lots of religious talk… just sprinkling God talk in everything. You know like, “It’s Tuesday, praise the Lord!” or “We’re having meatloaf tonight, praise the Lord!” So when we use the name of the Lord all the time, it becomes meaningless, we’ve robbed it of its majesty, and it’s losing its glory.
Here are a few other examples: How about social media and texting “OMG.” What does that mean? Should we be throwing out “OMG” in our texts and our posts?
Or how about “GD”? I’m not going to say it; but you know what I’m talking about. You do something wrong, you stub your toe, you hit your thumb with a hammer, you drop the groceries… Should we drop the “GD” bomb? How about a “JC” clipper?
You know what’s amazing, is that we don’t ever say the name of another god. I’ve never heard anybody on the job site… “Buddha!” Never heard “Hare Krishna!” Never heard that. You know why? There’s no power in those names. We always go for the big name… it’s Jesus’ name. Amen?
So today we’re going to consider, how we speak about God, because sometimes, even well-meaning Christians will violate the third commandment with false religious spiritual God talk that just kind of litters their lives. It just sort of comes out and they don’t even think about it. So that’s the big idea. How we speak about God.
So, the first Commandment, there’s one God. Second, we worship him alone. And then the third commandment, how we speak about God is part of how we worship God and interact with God. And here’s what he says in Exodus chapter twenty, verse seven:
"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7).
Now I tend not to get into politics a lot, but you know it seems as if every time somebody runs for office, they start talking about God right? You know they say their piece and walk off the stage saying “God bless America.” And I always wonder, do they really know him? Do they obey him? And since they’re about to put their hand on the Bible, will they actually honor its author and pay attention to it?
A good example, was in 2013 when President Obama gave an address to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States and he finished his speech by saying, quote, “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you!” April 30, 2013 (LiveActionNews.org).
Really??? God bless Planned Parenthood so they can take the life of more children that he has created in his own image. That is a violation of the third commandment. That’s misusing the name of the Lord. That’s not serving the name of the Lord; that’s using the name of the Lord. That’s not honoring the name of the Lord; that’s dishonoring the name of the Lord.
And in this third commandment God warns about misusing his name saying, “for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” So what God’s saying is, “There’s going to be some consequences.” Like the guy who misuses the name of the Lord in Leviticus chapter 24, verse 11, it actually says, he “blasphemed the Name with a curse”. So God says to the Israelites… and this is strong language… he says, “If anyone curses me, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death” (Leviticus 24:11-16).
Now could you imagine that today? That would really free up some internet traffic on Facebook, Twitter, and Messenger wouldn’t it? I mean, God would really thin the herd with that one. You know it’s like “OMG” and ZAP! So, do you think maybe this is serious? And maybe God’s trying to get our attention here?
And so first I want to share why we don’t misuse the name of God.
And the first reason is that we don’t name God. God tells us his name. And I know, today there are a lot of people and conversations about God and they’re like, “Who do you think God is? What’s your spirituality, your religion, your philosophy, and your ideology?” Recently there was even the leader of a very large religious denomination that said something like, “Everybody’s talking about the same God we just use different names.”
No, we don’t!!! The Bible says, “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death” (Leviticus 24:16). There’s one God, he tells us his name, and we have no right to create a name for God because that’s an act of authority. We’re not his parents. He’s in authority. He reveals his name to us. He says his name is Yahweh, which translated is the Lord, and as a matter of fact, His name, appears over five thousand times in the Old Testament. His name was such a holy name that the Jews wouldn’t even write the name of God for fear of misusing it and enduring the consequences of violating the third commandment.
Another reason we don’t misuse the name of God is because He owns his name. He copyrights it. And He allows us to use it under certain conditions, but he’s patented it, he’s trademarked it, and even branded it, because he owns it. It’s his name and how its used is to be according to his requirements. So when God says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” What does that mean? It means its super important that we don’t use it in a way that is empty or devoid of truth… in a way that is unholy or inconsequential, because it’s disrespectful and it’s dishonorable.
So what does this mean for you and me. What are the implications of the third commandment? If it’s so serious that God commanded in the Old Testament that you would die, if he takes the over 600 laws recorded in the first five books of the Old Testament, and breaks them down to Ten Commandments, and he places this one, number three in order, I would suggest that it’s a pretty big deal. If he warns us that if we disobey it there will be consequences, I believe we should prayerfully and carefully look at our lives and our words and ask, “In what ways am I violating the third commandment?”
So, it really comes down to this: God gives us his name and he says don’t misuse it, but the flip side of that is what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6:9, you know, where he teaches us how to pray. Do you remember the line? “Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name.” Hallowed means holy, respected, revered, honored be your name. The opposite of hallowing God’s name is misusing God’s name. So, Jesus teaches us to obey the third commandment by honoring and hallowing the name of God.
So, we want to use God’s name in a way that honors God. And therefore, it is really important for us to know who is this one God? Who I this God that commands us to worship him with total allegiance? And commands that he be worshiped by how we speak of him and to him?
So we’re in Exodus chapter 20. Let’s go back to Exodus chapter 3. We’re still hanging with this guy named Moses and he has this amazing supernatural encounter. Do you remember the story? God meets with Moses in the wilderness. Moses sees a bush that’s on fire, but not being burnt up so he walks up to the bush to check it out, and the bush talks to him. Well, it says, “God called to him from within the bush” (Exodus 3:4). And so God tells Moses “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard them crying out… and I’m concerned about their suffering. So I’ve come down to rescue them”
“So now go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt" (Exodus 3:10).
Now Moses has a question… he’s trying to be respectful... but it’s actually kind of funny, cause he asks, “Well, who should I say has sent me?” And you can kind of read between the lines. It’s like, “What am I going to say, “The bush is very unhappy?”
So in Exodus chapter 3, at verse 14, God gives Moses his name: “I Am Who I Am (which translated is Yahweh). And he said, “You are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.” So, God’s name is what? “I Am.” So, Moses goes in, says everything, God judges, everything happens, and the Israelites are set free.
Many centuries later, Jesus Christ is walking on the earth. People are wondering and they ask him, “Who do you think you are?" (John 8:53). “Who are you, Jesus?” Here’s what he says: “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
So here’s Jesus, in his early thirties, and he says, “I’m older than Abraham.” Now this is interesting because Abraham’s been dead for like two thousand years. So this is a strange thing to say. You know, they’re like, “Jesus, that’s a lot of candles on your birthday cake. Because, many years ago, there was Moses who gave us the Ten Commandments, and way before that there was Abraham, and you’re saying you’re older than Abraham? That you’re way back at the beginning of the story?”
And then he blows their minds saying, “Before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58). Now do you remember what God told Moses in Exodus chapter 3? What did God tell Moses? “Tell them, ‘I Am’ has sent you.” Now Jesus comes along and says, “I’m older than Abraham. My name is I Am. Maybe you’ve heard of me.”
And that’s right, Jesus claimed to be God, he is the God who spoke to Moses, the God who was before Abraham, the God who created the heavens and the earth. And they know that he’s claiming to be God, so “they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” (John 8:59). They picked up stones to stone him for blasphemy… for claiming to be God.
So don’t let anybody tell you, that Jesus isn’t God, didn’t think he was God, or didn’t say he was God. Don’t let the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, or any other religion, philosophy, or ideology try to steal the power and glory of Jesus Christ. The whole reason that they kept trying to kill him and they eventually did is because he kept saying that he was God. Funny things was that three days later, he rose and said, “I told you so.” Jesus is God and God isn’t dead; he’s alive. Jesus didn’t violate the first commandment: because he is the only God. Jesus didn’t violate the second commandment: because he lived without sin. Jesus didn’t violate the third commandment: because he didn’t lie. Instead he says, "I tell you the truth!" (John 8:58).
So, what should we do? The answer to the third commandment is to honor the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We sit in this privileged place of human history where we know who the Lord is. It’s Jesus Christ. And I want you to hear about who Jesus is and how we’re to respond to him from the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5–11.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death —even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
You see Jesus didn’t stay up in heaven and say, “I deserve glory, not humility. I deserve wealth, not poverty. I deserve to hear the angels sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.’ I don’t deserve to go down there and hear, ‘Crucify him, crucify him, crucify him.’” But Jesus let go of his rights. He emptied himself, making himself as nothing, taking upon himself all our pain and sorrow. When we lift up the name of Jesus, we’re honoring a humble God, we’re honoring a loving God, we’re honoring a serving God, and we’re loving and serving a forgiving God.
And here’s what’s so amazing: when we misuse the name of the Lord… and we all have… we deserve punishment. That’s what the third commandment says, but Jesus comes, the Lord, the very one that we’ve dishonored. He goes to the cross, where he substitutes himself, and he suffers and dies in our place for our sins, so that for people like you and me. People who have violated the first commandment with our false gods, violated the second commandment by worshiping things other than God, violated the third commandment by misusing the Lord’s name with our words and our actions… he goes to the cross, he humbles himself, and he who is without sin dies in our place for our sins and he says, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). That’s our Jesus.
That’s why we like to talk about him and sing about him, because there’s no god like our God. There’s no god alongside of him. There’s no god that’s equal to him. There’s no god that loves like him. There’s no god that’s humble like him. There’s no god that serves like him. There’s no god who forgives like him. And so Jesus goes to the cross, Jesus took our punishment, even though he was the one we sinned against and he had every right to punish us.
Our honorable response is to do what is described here in Philippians. To lift Jesus up, to magnify him, to exalt him, and to glorify him. So, as we hear of this great God-man Jesus… as we understand who Jesus is… as we behold the name that is above all names, the glory, and the goodness of Jesus is revealed in us. Amen!
Jesus is in heaven right now, he’s ruling and reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords. He’s no longer in humility; he’s in glory. His name, Jesus’ name is “the name that is above every name.” And for those who believe he has given his Spirit… if the Holy Spirit is in you, that just feels so right. It feels good. It makes sense because it’s all true.
I would invite you today to be one of those people who bends your knee to Jesus and receives him as Lord, God, and Savior.
As we close, we’re going to respond, and the way we overcome the third commandment is by singing about Jesus, talking about Jesus, and praying to Jesus, amen? We celebrate Jesus. We celebrate the humble servant who died for his enemies to make them his people. That’s good news, right? So we’re going to sing the name of Jesus. We’re going to get passionate because of the name, the fame, the reputation, and the good news of the glory of Jesus Christ, as we sing together. When we come together, we’re Jesus’ people and we want to lift up Jesus’ name, amen?
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
November 09, 2014