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The Character of God Declared

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Before we get started, I have to board a flight at 1:18. So I am going to leave as soon as the service is over. FYI
This law God had given to man before (it was written in his heart by nature); but sin had so defaced that writing that it was necessary, in this manner, to revive the knowledge of it.
Before we get started, I have to board a flight at 1:18. So I am going to leave as soon as the service is over. FYI
Last week was incredible! It is such a blessing for me to be able to affirm the calling of members of our church!
I felt a bit rushed last week because of all the things we needed to get done.
It is critical that we are all on the same page and understand what God is trying to do in the third commandment.
I spoke with several people this week, that aren’t part of our church, but have grown up in church, what their understanding of that commandment was.
Just like the response from you guys when I asked for a show of hands, all but one understood it the way we did… It was just about swear words.
The one person that I spoke to that had a different answer included the same response that we had, but he added that we should not “cloud” the name of God.
I really like that response. I think it does a good job of communicating what the intent of the passage.
Because of the importance that I think this commandment has on churches today, I want to spend a some time looking at them again today.
I was talking with someone recently about my concern with the length of this study.
This person informed me that it took John Piper almost eight years to get through the book of Romans.
So, I am no longer concerned.
I am commited to continue to take the time that it requires for us to fully understand God’s call for us to Join Him to Set People Free.
If you consider the themes that God has had us, as a church, in the last few years, it is obvious that He is commited as well.
Until we grasp what He is trying to do, we are going to continue to hear the same things.
This is important for us to hear today because this idea is the intent behind this commandment. Let’s look at it again.
Our representation of God, which is accomplished as we walk with Him, is what this commandment is about.
Exodus 20:7 ESV
7 “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.
The first point I made last week was...

Do not make the name of God worthless.

We had some great discussion on this last week in our life group.
Aaron, one of our Elders, is in that group and he suggested a different wording for this point because we have a tendency to hear things like that and immediately dismiss them.
We think, “I would never do that.”
So let’s say it this way...

Do not diminish the name of God by the way you live.

while we would be quick to say we would never intentionally make God seem worth less than He is, we might not be so quick to say we haven’t all done this.
Do me a favor and don’t forget to put on your Grace Lenses.
If you try to see this in any other way you are setting yourself up for failure and misery.
The word “Shav” is translated here as Vain.
This word is used in scripture to mean the following things.
What we have often failed to understand is that “taking the name of the Lord in vain” is much bigger than just the language that we use.
The grander image that God is communicating here, and that we see as we look at the use of this word, is that we should not cause defamation to His name by the way we live.
The things we say, choices we make, and paths we choose to follow affect our own lives, but they also affect the lives of those around us.
I spent part of yesterday evening doing something that I have needed to do for literally ten years.
I cleaned out a box of paperwork from 2009.
2009 was an incredibly difficult year.
Story of Rockwall
A year of praying and seeking God about the church plant.
Spending, literally, every penny we had to move to Rockwall, TX
Working my tail off to please the pastor while also working ten hours a day with 3-4 hours of travel due to Dallas traffic.
Through a series of events, the relationship feel apart.
I’m convinced he just stopped listening to God.
He then showed up to my house and fired me because in his words we “weren’t commited.”
We had to break our lease, move in with in laws. It was tough.
He made God look small, uncaring, untrustworthy, and harsh...
not just to us, but to the people we had brought into the church.
The church pretty much ceased to exist from that moment on because the things he was saying were not true and the other people that were involved knew it.
It all unraveled because He stopped listening to God and tried to make it happen in his own power and ability.
I’m telling you this story because it has taken me this long to put the final nails in the coffin of that part of my life. I didn’t want to relive those memories.
I could literally keep you here all day telling you all the details, but the point is, that all of us have stories like this.
The fact that we all have these kinds of stories is exactly why God gave this commandment.
History is full of men who misuse the power they are given for selfish gain.
Here is the rub, when we receive Christ through profession of faith and then make a public announcement of that faith through baptism, we are claiming the name of God.
If we then go and try to be a “good Christian” in our own power we end up spreading a false gospel.
What we are perpetuating is our idea of what a believer is instead of an authentic life of faith that is produced as we abide in Christ.
Let’s read together this response that Jesus has to the religious leaders.
Pay attention to what He is calling out.
Matthew 23:1–36 ESV
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Mat 23:
preach but don’t practice
create heavy burdens they won’t bear
do things just be seen by others
shut the door to heaven - false idea of what it takes to get there
they have made the created things more important than the creator.
ignore justice and mercy
focused on their appearance rather than the relationship with God
focus on the sins of others rather than on the sin in their lives.
It seems that time hasn’t changed the flesh.
if we don’t abide in Christ and do what He instructs, we are no better.
The heart behind this commandment is that we are God’s people and how we live speaks to those around us about who God is.
The question we all need to be asking ourselves is, what kind of message am I sharing with those in my life?
The second point I made last week was...

God will redeem His name.

As Jesus makes abundantly clear to the Scribes and Pharisees is that He isn’t happy with them.
Did you notice that Jesus rebukes them publicly? They sinned publicly and called it God, so God set them straight in front of those people so all would know the truth.
When Jesus came, it was to finish the work of restoring our relationship with God.
In order to do that He had to bring to light the false things that were spread about God.
We see this happen in the church over and over again throughout history.
Men take what was meant for the good of God’s people and twist it to manipulate people and serve their selfish desires.
Look at the commandment again.
Exodus 20:7 ESV
7 “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.
“for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
If we choose to live in a way that makes God less than He is, we can count on Him to deal with it.
God is not going to allow us to tarnish His name so we can reap the benefits.
This doesn’t mean that God won’t forgive us, but we are going to have to live with the results of our sin.
here’s the thing though, all of us are guilty of breaking this commandment… and God is faithful to forgive us and redeem us.
Look at what Jesus tells them at the end of the woes.
Matthew 23:34–36 ESV
34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
matt 23:34-
Jesus didn’t pull any punches when he was laying out what was coming for them.
You know who was in that group that Jesus is condemning?
Acts 9:1–9 ESV
1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Acts 9:1-
You know what God wants you to know.
You’ve messed up.
I’ve messed up.
Calling to apologize to Chandler… I didn’t represent God well because I didn’t make time for Him.
Even though we are all guilty, just like Paul, we are all also forgiven, just like Paul.
We, like Paul, are now commissioned, by the Holy Spirit to go and spread the Gospel.
We need to repent, and then immediately ask God what or who he is calling us too.
The enemy would love for us to wallow in this just long enough that we are numb to it so that we can just move on with life and change nothing.
But look at Paul’s response
Acts 9:
Acts 9:20–22 ESV
20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Let me tell you what the enemy wants to do.
He wants to convince you that you are disqualified from ministry because of your sin.
Paul wasn’t disqualified. He was confronted, forgiven, and tasked with sharing the truth.
The same is true for us.
I was talking with someone the other day about their role in our church and they were concerned that events in their past may have disqualified them from ministry.
I shared with this person where the name of our church comes from and it dawned on me that there may be many here who don’t know.
Luke 15:1–7 NIV
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
We are all just a bunch of sinners and we are gathering together to hear from Jesus.
We were lost sheep and Jesus found us.
Our call as a body, from it’s conception, is to join God to find other lost sheep and gather them.
God wants to reveal himself through us. The message that we have is of hope, joy, love...
We have the truth that tells the people in our lives that God isn’t a task master.
He isn’t a list of rules and expectations.
He is a loving God that just wants us to know Him. He wants to restore His relationship with all of His people.
This is our calling and this is how we Join God. We declare the character of God through our lives so that we are sharing the truth about who God is.
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