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Take the Name, but NOT in Vain

Exodus 20:7



1.     The Declaration of God’s Name

One of God’s most beautiful gifts to mankind is the gift of language, the ability to speak.  It is one of many things that distinguish man from animals, other than Mr. Ed!  But as is true with every good gift God has given to man, sin has found a way to abuse it and misuse it.


Music—it’s a gift from God, but can be used for good or for evil.

Sex—it’s another gift from above...beautiful in its proper bounds, but the devil has twisted it in awful ways for evil.

Internet—Al Gore invented this!  Seriously, it’s a powerful tool for good and yet wickedness makes its home there as well...what a web we weave!


Here’s some chapters about how speech can be misused:

Prov. 25—backbiting

Prov. 11—gossip

Prov. 31—slander

Prov. 16—evil whispering

And later in the 10 commandments we’ll talk about lying, or bearing false witness.


As bad as these things are, there is a sin committed with the tongue that is far worse than any of the above, and that is using God’s name in vain.  I’m talking about using God’s name in a blasphemous way, attaching D-A-M-N after it, or saying “Jesus Christ” in a manner of cursing, rather than speaking that beautiful name the way it is intended. 


It’s the only name people take in vain!


You wanna put someone in their place kindly, but effectively?  Do what I did once to a man who said “Jesus Christ” when he was upset because a line was moving slowly in a store.  I said, “It’s not His fault, it’s theirs!” [pointing to the help at the register].  “Yeah, you’re right,” he admitted.


The name of the Lord is sacred.  It’s a holy name.  At that name angels bow down / demons tremble / Satan has to flee.


The name Trump may open doors of finance, Einstein may open doors of brilliance, Michelangelo may open doors of art, but the name of Jesus will open to you the doors of heaven!

Romans 10:13
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

We don’t want someone using our mom’s name as a cuss word.  We defend her name!  How much more should we honor the name of Almighty God?!

Psalms 8:1
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
Psalms 25:11
For thy name's sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
Psalms 111:9
... holy and reverend is his name.

It’s for this reason I don’t use the term ‘reverend’ with my name.  Because the Bible says it’s HIS name...He is due reverence, certainly not me.  I prefer Pastor Jerry or Bro. Jerry, but also answer to ‘Opie’!


Jesus’ name is so holy and powerful that at just the mention of it every knee will bow one day.


We need to be reminded of the mindset of the Orthodox Jew in Bible days, concerning the name of God, as well as many Bible translators for centuries A.D., before the invention of the printing press.  When these scribes would copy the Word of God, every time they would encounter a name of God, they would rise from their work table, go and wash, and often change their clothes, pick up a new quill never used before, and then proceed to write the name of God.  This they would do every time, sometimes up to three times in a single verse.  That’s how respected and revered the name of God used to be.  What a terrible thing it is to ever drag His beautiful name thru the mire!


Names are very significant.  The Bible says that a good name is better than great riches.  Let me rattle off some names and you call out the first thing that comes to your mind.

Judas [traitor]

Thomas [doubter]

Hitler [murderer]

George Washington [honesty]

Joke—in the days of the outhouse, a teen boy thought it would be fun to tip one over and roll it down a hill.  His dad later came to him and asked him if had done that.  He thought about lying and denying, but he decided to do the right thing and so he admitted it.  But his dad said he had to whip him for it.  “Aw dad, but I told you the truth, just like George Washington told the truth when he chopped down the cherry tree, and he didn’t get a whippin’!”  His dad replied, “The difference is son...George’s dad wasn’t IN the cherry tree!”


What do you think about when you hear the name of God?  The Bible has over 300 names of God.  That’s because it’s impossible to capture the full character of God in any one attempt.

Gen. 22—Jehovah Jireh:  The Lord will provide

Ezek. 48—Jehovah Shammah:  The Lord is there

Jer. 23—Jehovah Sidon:  The Lord our righteousness

Exodus 6—El Shaddai:  The Lord is sufficient

Exodus 15—Jehovah Rapha:  The Lord our healer

Exodus 17—Jehovah Nissi:  The Lord our victory

Judges 6—Jehovah Shalom:  The Lord our peace

Genesis 14—Jehovah Elim:  The Most High God

Matthew 1—Jesus...there’s just something about that name!


Jesus is:

The voracity of truth, the verity of love, the victory of grace, the visibility of God!  It’s honey to the taste, harmony to the ear, healing to the soul!


“Christ” is His messianic name.  He is the Christ, and that is the name we wear as Christians.  “Little Christs” or “Christlike Ones”...that’s what it means.  It’s a special privilege but an awesome responsibility.


1.     The Declaration of God’s Name


2.     The Desecration of God’s Name

v. 7  We live today in the midst of the most cursing generation of all of human history.  Vile words are regularly added to an ever growing list of things you can say, but shouldn’t.  Most people, even many Christians, don’t think twice about using the words damn or hell in a frivolous way.  Atheists say ‘hell’ all the time, and would claim not to believe in it.  Some say hell and they expect to go there, no problem.  And some have been saved from it and yet still say it...what a mockery, what a sad revelation about how worldly many Christians are today.


Then there’s the ‘f bomb’, regarded by the world as the filthiest thing you can say, and so considered the most powerful and the most used by the scum of society.  Some say it so much in all situations they don’t even know they are saying it anymore.  Others think they are adding emphasis by using it.  But I say if what you are saying is so weak that you need to add such a word you should revisit your real point and try to find something worthwhile to say in the first place!


The ‘a’ word is now commonly accepted on regular, prime time tv, but it best describes the person who would stoop to use it!  The ‘s’ word is not far behind, and further reveals what a potty mouth one is when they say it.


Rap music is full of all the above and so much more, esp. terms derogatory to women, or racial slurs.  The average R rated movie has foul language every 32 seconds.  PG 13 and most sitcoms average one every minute or two, and we allow it into our homes.  Our kids don’t have to hear it from us, if they hear it from our tv it makes it look ok to them.


Cursing used to be considered ‘man language’...and you’d hear someone say, ‘watch your language, there’s ladies present’.  But it’s not just a man problem anymore.  Young girls not far detached from their dollies are saying things today that would make a sailor blush!


As bad as all of this is, the most vulgar thing you can do is to speak the lovely name of God is a vain way.  And if we took that more seriously we would also think twice before saying other curse words.  It’s all about forming new habits, and getting rid of old ones.


When we curse we reveal 4 things:

  • Lack of character.  The Bible says our mouths speak what is abundant in our heart.  What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket!  You can tell what a person IS by what that person SAYS.  A great preacher of yesteryear, Sam Jones, said:  “When I get around a man who swears I watch my pocketbook...for any man who would swear would surely steal!”
  • Lack of intelligence.  When you have to use profanity to get your point across you are revealing an empty head and a wicked heart.  Profanity is the attempt of a feeble mind to express itself forcefully.
  • Lack of understanding.  Think about how foolish it is to use a curse word.  What does it get you?  With most sins, you at least get something in return...even pleasure for a short season.  Stealing is wrong, but at least you got something!  I’m not justifying sin, just making a point.  You have a flat tire and curse.  Did that put air into the tire?  Now if the hot air coming out of your mouth could go into the tire, it would be different.  Can cursing ‘unstub’ your toe?  Make your golf ball move from the rough to the fairway?  Fix your broken window?  What do we earn by cursing?  Only one thing:  the judgment of God!  V. 7 says, ‘the LORD will not hold him guiltless’.
  • Lack of reverence and respect.  A person takes God’s name in vain and says, ‘sorry, I didn’t mean that.’  That’s like saying, ‘God is meaningless to me.  I can use His name and not even mean it.’  Well, that’s exactly what the word ‘vain’ means.  It means empty or meaningless.  It’s a lack of reverence to God, and a lack of respect to any others around us.  I don’t like euphemisms for the same reason, ie: ‘gosh darn it’.  It’s just ‘Christian cussing’!


I ask people not to curse around my children, and most everyone respects that.  And my wife and I think it’s about more than our children, but about us as well.  I don’t think Christians should just overlook it, and we all do, we’re so used to it that we don’t hear it as much anymore.  Ill.—TVGuardian illustration [foul language filter]


When Salvation Army founder William Booth was dying, there were some legal matters to tend to.  The lawyer said to Mrs. Booth, “If you can get him to sign these papers the will will be executed much more smoothly.”  The problem was that he was drifting in and out of consciousness, and often delirious.  But they were able to wake him long enough to try to get the signature.  Miraculously he was able to grasp a pen and begin signing, though scribbled somewhat roughly.  The lawyer said it was good enough.  Then he died.  Later examination revealed that on every one of those papers the signature was different than his known inscription...matter of fact, it was not even his name...on every line he wrote:  Jesus.

        The only name on his mind in his dying moments...and it should be our most respected name in all our living moments.

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