Sermon Notes: The Third Commandment – Name Above All Names

26 01 2016

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

Our names are given to us, we don’t get to choose them. Our parents use their authority over us to give them to us. But we didn’t give God His name, He tells us.

This is the first commandment where God speaks about Himself in the third person. So that He can call Himself LORD or Yahweh – “I am who I am”. It’s not a name, but an identity. Not just a label.

A more literal translation of this commandment would be “You shall not lift up the name of the LORD your God for nothingness”. We’re not to use His name thoughtlessly, carelessly or flippantly.

We can still use God’s name! We just can’t misuse it. Yahweh is in the Old Testament nearly 7000 times!

God’s name was misused in the Old Testament in three ways

  1. Sorcery
    “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practises divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” – Deuteronomy 18 vv 10-12a
  2. False Prophecy
    “Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries[a] and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them” – Jeremiah 14 vv 14-15a
    The prophets always said “Thus saith the LORD”
    Church history is littered with people claiming the name of God on their side for all sorts of things to advance their own agendas.
  3. Swearing False Oaths
    A common phrase was “As the LORD lives”, and so if this is used when lying, this is not casual.

The consequence: “the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” – v7b.

Misusing God’s name is a sin because it’s a direct attack on His honour and glory. It’s serious.

The most obvious misuse today is using Jesus’ name as a swear word or exclamation point.

Imagine someone you know insults a member of your family, we’d react. It’s scary, but maybe we should politely tell people it offends us when they take the name of our God in vain.

We need to watch our language too. If we use it as a throwaway word, it’s an indication of the true spiritual condition of our heart.

We may say we don’t do that, but there are more subtle ways.

It’s easy to say that God told us to do something without testing it against God’s word or with other Christians. If it goes against the bible then it’s a form of false prophecy. With all things we should be testing against Scripture.

Even more subtle, and potentially more dangerous – taking a bible verse out of context, to say something we want it to say.

Some non-conformists and puritans went through a period of not singing in church for fear they couldn’t live up to what they were singing. This may sound extreme, but we’ve lost some reverence for God’s name. Do we really live out what we sing with our mouths? Singing is biblical and fundamental, but we need to think about the words we’re singing.

It’s not just not negative, but positive to – we’re to honour God’s name. The Lord’s prayer says “Hallowed be Your name”. The Psalms are great for honouring God’s name.
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name” – Psalm 29 v 9
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” – Psalm 103 v 1

We’re also instructed to
“trust in the name of the LORD” – Isaiah 50 v 10
“fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD Your God” – Deuteronomy 28 v 58

As Christians, we bear Christ’s name, we’re baptised into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That name is now associated with all we say and do. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3 v 17.

It may say He will not hold anyone guiltless, but this is where the gospel steps in! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1 v 9

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