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Taking God Seriously

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TAKING GOD SERIOUSLY

Exodus 20:7

We're in part three today looking at the Ten Commandments in this series.  We're going to look at the third commandment that I can summarize in one sentence:  God says, “Take My name seriously”.

Paul Dickinson has written a book called Names.  He has a hobby of collecting strange and unusually names.  He says sometimes names seem to be prophetic.  Recently there was a Montreal window washer who died by accident, falling as he was washing windows.  His name was Will Drop.  Others, he says, seem destined for certain occupations. Joe Bunt became a baseball coach.  Dan Druff became a barber.  Jeff Treadwell became a podiatrist.  Goforth and Ketchum, two guys, became police officers and partners.  O'Neill and Pray became partners in church equipment.  A plaster contractor, Will Crumble. 

What's in a name?  God says there's a lot in a name when it's His name.  In the third command in Exodus 20:7 He says, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” 

Why is God so sensitive about His name?  God says that your name represents three things:  reputation, character, authority.

It represents your reputation.  You've heard people say, “He's making a name for himself.”  When somebody has a good reputation they say “He's got a good name.”  When he's got a bad reputation, “He's got a bad name.”  When I say a name you automatically thing of his reputation.  Hitler, Billy Graham, Elvis. 

A name represents your character.  What you are cannot be separated from what your name is once it's identified together.  In the Bible they would often name children after certain character qualities like Honest, Justice ... so that it would represent their character.  Many times in the Bible when somebody changed their character, their life was changed, God gave them a new name.  Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, Simon became Peter.  God would change their names because He said it represents your character. 

Your name represents authority.  When a police stops you he says, “Stop in the name of the law.”  Why?  Because there is authority behind that name.  If you received a call from a George Brown while you were eating dinner you might have him call back later.       George Bush

But if his name were George Bush you would probably take the call right there.  Names have a representation of authority. 

God says when you misuse My name it's no little deal.  It's a big deal because you're defaming My reputation, My character and My authority and you are using it flippantly.  Exodus 20:7b “...I the Lord will punish anyone who misuses my name!”

George Barna did a survey recently and found that 66% of all Americans admit having taken the Lord's name in vain.  But everybody, including me, is guilty of breaking this command.  There are many, many ways that we misuse the Lord's name other than swearing. 

Some people curse because they are trying to feel tough, macho. They try through bad language to manufacture a tough image. So when I say, "Locker Room talk," you know what I'm talking about.  Movie producers sprinkle profanity all the way through their films - in order for that film to achieve a lower rating - an R - because that is seen to be the most sophisticated, most mature. I have never yet seen a person spewing obscenities who looked sophisticated and mature.

Still others may curse because they simply cannot find any other way to forcibly express themselves. Someone has described "profanity as the attempt of a feeble mind to express itself forcefully."

People who dishonor the name of God can be placed in one of three categories.

1.  The first category includes those individuals who MISUSE GOD'S NAME OUT OF IGNORANCE. They are uninformed, completely oblivious to what the Lord has revealed in His Word concerning the use of His name. Perhaps they are unchurched and have not had any teaching on this subject. Perhaps they've never read the Bible for themselves. Whatever the reason, they're not aware of the seriousness of what they're doing. 

Perhaps some of you have slipped into the careless use of God's name. After all, it's commonly used in school, in the marketplace, in the neighborhood. Perhaps you have been unaware, though, that this is a grievous sin-a sin so serious that in the Old Testament it led to death. In this matter there is no room for ignorance.  It shows an utter contempt for God. That a man can take the precious name of Jesus or the name of Holy God, mix that name with the muck and the mire and the slime of the sewer, take it upon his lips in some vile oath, shows that he has disregard for God.                                    rebuke a person, didn't mean anything

Sometimes when you rebuke a person about his profanity, he will say, "Oh, I didn't mean anything by it." Now listen, he has taken the name which is above every name, the name of Jehovah God, the name by which the blind were given sight, the name by which deaf ears were made to hear. The name by which the dead are raised. The name by which we are saved, "Neither is there salvation in any other name, for there is no name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" than the name of Jesus. He takes that name and says, "Oh I didn't mean anything by it." And HE IS CONDEMNED IN HIS OWN COURT. What he is saying is, "God is meaningless to me. Why, I can take his name and not even mean anything by it."

Profanity is wicked and foolish. Now I am not trying to justify sins. But when a man sins in another realm, at least he gets something in return. man steals.  I am not justifying sin. But when a man steals, he gets what he steals. When a man commits adultery, he satisfies his lust. When a man commits murder he may get revenge or so he thinks. BUT WHAT DOES A MAN GET WHEN HE CURSFS, JUST ONE THING-THE JUDGMENT OF GOD. It is the fools sin. It is like a fish who bites a hook with no bait on it. At least when a fish bites a hook he gets a mouthful of worm. What particle of good has profanity ever done.

If you have dishonored God's name in ignorance, I challenge you right now to implore His forgiveness and commit yourself to obedience. Decide right now that you're never going to profane His name again. You are no longer ignorant.

2.  Some people profane God's name because they don't know any better; others do so simply because THEY CAN'T CONTROL THEIR TONGUES. They know the Ten Commandments forbid profanity, and they fully intend to obey them, but sometimes they just lose control.  In fits of anger or frustration, when they're cut off in traffic, when they hit their thumb with a hammer, when the baby cries at night-they slip. They lose control and use God's name carelessly. For these people, profanity is the exception, not the rule. They are crushed when they realize they've dishonored God's name. They know they have sinned and they repent immediately and ask for God's forgiveness.

The Bible openly acknowledges the difficulty of controlling the tongue. James 3:7-8 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue Yet God says that we must control it. We must make every effort to use our tongues for honor, not for dishonor.   pressure is on

When the pressure is on, the rebellion-or bitterness, anger, or hatred-that's hidden in the recesses of our inner lives, will erupt into an explosion of profanity. The only sure way to clean up our mouths, then, is to clean up our hearts. Fortunately, we don't have to clean up our hearts alone; the Holy Spirit will help us. We begin by asking for His divine intervention. We begin with an invitation. We ask Him to clean the sin out of our hearts, and then fill us with the fruit of His Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

We can cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit by diligently obeying the first and second commandments. That involves yielding to God's authority and realizing that He's more than just a convenient image based on human opinions. He's the holy God of Scripture who deserves our humble adoration. We also can support the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives by reading the Bible, listening to Christian music, and having spiritually oriented conversations with other believers. The more we saturate our minds with the knowledge of God's holiness and majesty, the less likely we'll be to profane His name. We'll gradually find that profanity rarely comes to mind. if it does, the thought of dishonoring God's name will be appalling. We won't even be tempted to do it.

Is that your goal? The truth about God is that His name deserves to be honored-always. Will you allow His Spirit to purify your heart so that every word which flows from it will exalt the name of God? So they do that. As a result, they begin to feel a deep sense of peace and assurance. They know they've been forgiven and offered the hope of eternal life. This motivates them to love and worship the Lord. Eventually, they find that the name of Jesus has become precious to them, that the name of God has become a word to be revered. The last thing they want to do is profane those names.

3.  In contrast, there are some people who FEEL NO REMORSE WHEN THEY FLAGRANTLY VIOLATE THE THIRD COMMANDMENT, when they use the Lord’s name in vain. These people are confirmed unbelievers. They have never confessed Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and have no regard for God. So it doesn't bother them to take God's name in vain; in fact, they rather seem to enjoy it. It's a way to prove they're not afraid of God. It's a flashing neon sign that says, "I'm in charge here. I'm the boss!" They're like the teenager who smokes in front of his mom and dad for the first time. For months he's been hiding, smoking on the sly.     One day he walks

Then one day he walks into the family room, lights up, takes a long drag, and looks his parents straight in the eyes. In effect, he's announcing, "You don't scare me anymore. You have no control over me. I don't care what you think or how you feel." Unbelievers who profane God's name are saying essentially the same thing. And some of them have been saying it for thirty, forty, even fifty years.

Are you someone who flaunts your profanity in the face of God? If you are, I have some bad news and some good news for you. The bad news is that someday you're going to come face to face with a righteous God, and you're going to have to account for your filthy mouth. You'll have no excuses, no control, no time to mend your ways. You'll be a deserving victim of the wrath of the God you dishonored for a lifetime. The good news is, the same God you've been cursing loves you. Right this minute He's waiting to open His arms and embrace you as His child. All you have to do is repent. just say, "Lord, I'm the one with the filthy mouth-the one who's been cursing Your name. I'm the one who's been shaking my puny little fist in rebellion. And now I'm sorry. I ask for your forgiveness. I don't want Jesus Christ to be my favorite curse word. I want him to be my Savior."

The Lord of the universe is head over heels in love with us, the frail, sinful inhabitants of a tiny planet. We don't deserve His love, but He gives it to us anyway. Though we have cursed the name of the One who spilled His blood for us, God still says, "Come. Repent. Be My child."

Doesn't that make you want to offer God a heart that's pure and lips that honor His name? The psalmist said, "0 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth!" (8:9) Our occupation throughout eternity will be to worship the Lord and to exalt His name. But why wait? Why not join the psalmist now in declaring the majesty of God's name?

II.  HOW CAN I USE GOD'S NAME CORRECTLY?

God promises blessing when you use His name correctly.  There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that talk about the name of God.  And there are promises galore that says  “If you honor and reverence My name I will bless you with success, with prosperity, with health, with peace of mind, with good relationships” and on and on.  Incredible blessings for the person who honors God's name.  God takes this very seriously.

                                    1.  REVERENCE GOD'S NAME CONTINUALLY

1.  REVERENCE GOD'S NAME CONTINUALLY

Treat it with the utmost respect.  Use it carefully.  Use it lovingly.  Use it as an act of worship.  Don't just let it slip out flippantly.  When you say “God”, mean it in your heart. 

Ps. 29:2 “Give to the Lord the glory due His name.”  Honor God's name.  A young boy said to his Dad, “Daddy, I'm having a hard time with bad words because I heard it so much all summer in the park.”  You know that, if you hear it enough it's going to slip out in your life.  People say “It doesn't bother me.”  It bothers God and it ought to bother you.  If my wife's name were taken in vain, I would not say, “I just don't let it bother me” and tune it out.  No, love demands action.  I'd have to do something about it.  If somebody ridiculed or made fun of your mother, you'd protest it.  You wouldn't set in silence.  But many believers say nothing when Jesus' name is blasphemed all the time. 

I want to challenge you to speak up when somebody close to you is using God's name.  You can't always do this with strangers.  But I'm talking about the people who are around you, who are close to you, that you could confront about this issue.  You've got to do it tactfully because your goal is not to condemn them but to influence them. 

We need to reverence God name continually.  Reverence involves not only protecting God's name but knowing it.  Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name will trust in you...”  God has many names, well over 100 names of God in the Bible, each one of them reveal a different aspect of God's character -- love, justice, holiness, the things he's promised to care for.  The way you get to know God is to get to know the names of God.  If you only know one name you don't know God very well.  There are lots of names that describe God in the Scripture and the better you know them the better you're going to trust Him and the better you're going to love Him. 

When you get to know God's name and reverence Him on a daily basis there are enormous benefits to your life.  Psalm 61.5 (LB) “You God have given me the blessings you reserve for those who reverence your name.” 

2.  REPRESENT GOD'S NAME CLEARLY

II Timothy 2:19b (LB) “A person who calls himself a Christian should not be doing things that are wrong.”  Our lifestyle can misuse the name of God.  If you call yourself a believer act like one.  don't drag Christ's name

If you're going to call yourself a Christian don't drag Christ's name through the gutter by your lifestyle.  Your walk needs to match your talk.  If you're a believer you represent God.  There are two reasons why many people never come to Christ.  First, they've never met a Christian.  Second, they met one and it was a Christian in name only who claimed to be a Christian but there was no difference in their lifestyle.  “If they're a Christian they're just like me.  There's nothing different.  I don't need to be a Christian because I'm just like them.”  If you claim to be a believer, a Christian, and use God's name and aren't any different you're a bad advertisement.  God will hold us accountable for that.  We represent God's name clearly.

The truth is that there are people all around you that are watching and evaluating your speech and your actions and they're checking to see how you're different and how you're different in your life style.  So guard your mouth, guard your actions.

As a Christian, you need to be careful about slang.  A lot of slang is just watered down cussing.  It's profanity with a substitute.  Oh you might never use the courser words of profanity, but we do second handed cursing. We have euphemistic statements, like Golly, Gee whiz, Gosh dam, heck. These are all just ways of second handed cursing. Webster's dictionary says, "Gee" is a form of Jesus. Golly a form of God. Gosh a substitute for God. Those are just variations.  They all came from profanity, taking God's name in vain.  Do you think God doesn't see through that?  Do you think He's not seeing the intention of a profane statement?  Be very careful about your slang too.

3.  RELY ON GOD'S NAME COMPLETELY.

Psalm 33:21 “No wonder we are happy in the Lord.  We trust His holy name.”  There are 100s of verses in the Bible that say that God has made a number of promises to honor His name.  Whatever you do you should do it in the name of the Lord, trusting and relying on His name.  Jesus said, “If you ask anything in My name I will do it.”  Why do we pray “In Jesus' name”?  Because you don't have any right to come to God on your own.  God is perfect and holy and you're not.  Only a perfect person can come into His presence.  I don't have any right on my own just to come to God and say, “God this is what I need and request.”  Through Christ I can.  He's the bridge.  And Jesus said, we're to pray in His name.  It's a reminder that He is the bridge and we don't come on our own power, we come on His power and His grace. 

                                    Should I say, “In Jesus' name” every time I pray? 

Should I say, “In Jesus' name” every time I pray?  No you don't have to but it's not a bad idea.  It reminds you why you have the privilege and benefit of being able to pray.  So you pray “in Jesus' name” and He said “If you ask anything in My name, then I will do it.”

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”  The name of Jesus Christ is the way you get to heaven.

John 20:31 “That you may  believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”   Notice “life”.  You can pass from death to life, from judgment to forgiveness in His name. 

That's what you need.  We've all broken this command and it means we're all doomed unless we get a Savior and that's what Jesus is.  How many of you when you were children because you used a cuss word got your mouth washed out with soap?  It doesn't work.  The problem is not in the mouth but in the heart.  Whatever is inside of you is what's going to come out when the world puts on pressure.  If I'm filled with anxiety and tension and turmoil and fear and anger and bitterness, when the world puts on pressure that's what is going to come out.  It's like squeezing a toothpaste tube, the toothpaste inside is what's going to come out.  When I'm filled with love and peace and the world puts on pressure that is what's going to come out.  Swearing is simply a symptom that there is turmoil in my heart and that there is so much turmoil it can spill over real easily if enough pressures is put on.

Luke 6;45 Jesus said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”  Ultimately the only way to clean up your language is to have a change of heart.  Jesus can do that. 

God says don't misuse My name.  Use it with awe and reverence,  Be serious.  It's not a laughing matter when someone cusses. You're offending the creator of the universe.  Some of you are saying “I've got the habit and I have to admit I've got a bad mouth.”  Maybe you picked up that habit in the army or school or your home or wherever, what do you do? 

The first thing you need to do is tell God you're sorry and apologize for misusing His name.  Tell him you didn't realize how serious it was.  And you need to ask his forgiveness.  Then you commit that problem and your life to God, give Him the whole thing.  “Jesus Christ, come in and give me that new heart and tongue.”  Begin practice controlling what you allow in your mind.  There are just some things you just don't listen to, go see, or read, because you know it's going into your mind.  And you remember that He is with you at all times, you practice His presence.  You don't usually take somebody's name in vain that is standing right by you.  If you'd recognize and realize that you're never without God presence you'd be a lot more disciplined in your speech, because He hears it all.  Ask Him to help you and He will.

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