GOD’S LAST NAME IS NOT DAMN
Exodus 20:7 (NKJV)
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.
In the Taurus mountains of southern Turkey, lives a certain variety of crane. These birds tend to cackle a lot, especially while flying. And, all that noise gets the attention of eagles, who swoop down and seize them for a meal. The experienced cranes avoid this threat by picking up stones large enough to fill their mouths. This prevents them from cackling–and from becoming lunch for the eagles. People have a problem with their mouths too. It seemed to me that this was an appropriate illustration to begin our study on the 3rd Commandment.
You see, on the front of every face in this world is a large opening called a mouth. In each mouth is a little organ called a tongue. The tongue, though relatively small when compared to the whole body, is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. It must be! After all, man can split atoms, walk on the moon, construct enough weapons to destroy his world thousands of times over, yet he cannot seem to control his little tongue, James 3:8.
In James 3, the Bible gives us valuable insight into this little monster that lives in our mouths, James 3:1-12. Paul tells us that as Christians, we are to use our tongues for noble pursuits, Eph. 4:29. He also tells us in Col. 3:8, that we are to watch our filthy mouths. I don’t know how you feel about it, but to me, few things are as disgusting, as repulsive and as repugnant as a mouth spewing forth profanity and verbal stupidity. If you are guilty of using filthy language, then shame on you! But, I am sure you have good reasons for your foul mouth.
Ill. A man named Alex Dunlap has written and published a tract entitled Ten Reasons Why I Swear. The purpose of the tract was to show how foolish swearing was. Here are the reasons he gives:
1. It pleases my mother so much.
2. It is a fine mark of manliness.
3. It proves I have self-control.
4. It indicates how clearly my mind operates.
5. It makes my conversation so pleasing to everyone.
6. It leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind as to my good breeding.
7. It impresses people that I have more than an ordinary education.
8. It is an unmistakable sign of culture and refinement.
9. It makes me a very desirable personality among women and children of culture and refinement.
10. It is my way of honoring God, who said, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.”
Tonight, we have come to the 3rd Commandment. It deals with something far more serious than just a filthy mouth. This Commandment discusses the misuse, or profane use of God’s Holy Name. God’s Name is a Holy Name! It isn’t to be used unless it is used in connection with His praise or His proclaimation. Sadly, to many it seems, God’s name is no more than a curse word. A by-word they can throw around at will.
Ill. Little Mary, attending Sunday School for the first time one Christmas season, eagerly listened as her teacher told of the birth of God’s Son. She thrilled to the story of the angels, wise men, the star, and the gifts. Then the teacher added, “And they shall call His name Jesus.” She looked over at the person beside her and asked, “Why did they have to name such a sweet baby a swear word?” It was the first time that she had ever heard His Name used outside of a curse!
(Ill. You know, kids just repeat what they hear! Ill. “The boy’s mother was furious. `Young man, where did you learn to talk that way?’
“The boy hesitated, looked toward his father, and asked, `Well, Dad, should I tell her?'”)
Ill. We are literally surrounded by profanity. These statistics concerning television ought to cause us some alarm. Did you know: In one year’s time prime-time television airs 8,333 acts of violence, 14,313 incidents of sex, and 23,566 uses of profanity.
–Wesleyan Advocate, Jun 1995
Profanity on television increased by an alarming 45% in the first four years of the 1990s, according to a Southern Illinois University study. Researchers monitored two weeks of prime-time programming on NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, and found that words that were once banned are now heard about once every five minutes on prime-time sitcoms.
–USA Today, Mar 2, 1995
This evening, I want us to look into the 3rd. Commandment and learn more about his grave matter of taking the Lord’s Name in vain. With God’s help, I will preach on this subject, “God’s Last Name Is Not Damn!”
I. GOD’S NAME IS A VENERABLE NAME
(Venerable = Sacred, Holy, Worthy of Respect and Reverence)(God’s Name is often misused and “mis-poken” because it is misunderstood and not appreciated as it should be. Right now, I want to help us fully understand and appreciate this Sacred Name.)
A. The Announcement Of God’s Holy Name – (Ill. The importance of names in the Bible as opposed to now.) Names in the Bible usually revealed something about the person, his ancestry or his background. This is especially true in regard to the Name of God. In truth, God has chosen to reveal Himself to man through His Names. (Ill. There are over 300 given in the Bible.) Two (2) are used here and it is these 2 that we will concentrate on tonight.
1. LORD – When you see this word in the bible, it is the English rendering of the Hebrew word “Jehovah.” It describes God as the self-existent, eternal One. It is the Name, “I AM.” This is the name God used when He revealed Himself to Moses, Ex. 3:14. This Name is used to declare God’s nature, that is unchanging and eternal – Mal. 3:6; James 1:17. In the Bible, Jehovah is coupled with other words to form compound names for God which reveal more about His nature and His attributes. Some Are:
a. Jehovah-Jireh – “The LORD will provide” – Gen. 22:14.
b. Jehovah-Nissi – “The LORD is my banner.” – Ex. 17:15.
c. Jehovah-Shalom – “The LORD is peace” – Judges 6:24.
d. Jehovah-Shammah – “The LORD is there” – Eze. 48:35.
e. Jehovah-Tsebaoth – “The LORD of Hosts” – 1 Sam. 1:3
f. Jehovah-Rohi – “The LORD is my Shepherd” – Psa. 23:1.
2. God – Elohim – Refers to the One Supreme, faithful, triune God. Literally, “The Strong and Faithful One!” This is the common word for God in the Bible. It is used over 2,000 times in the Old Testament. In fact, when God stepped out of eternity to reveal Himself to man, this is the Name He chose. A Name depicting Himself as the Strong and Faithful One. The God who can be depended on!
3. There are many Names given to God in the Old Testament. Some are:
a. El – God
b. El-Shadday – God Almighty
c. Adonai – Lord
B. The Adoration Of God’s Name – Ill. God’s Name is to be held in extreme reverence and adoration. (Ill. Only occurrence of “reverend” in the Bible – Psa. 111:9). (Ill. The esteem the Jews held for His Name. The scribes would, when they came to the Name of God in the writing, stop writing, thoroughly wash themselves, change pens, then write the Name of God. Afterwards, they would throw the pen away so that it could never be used to write another word.)
(Many orthodox Jews today will not even say the Name Jehovah or Yahweh. Instead, they say the word for Lord, Adonai.) I am afraid that we have lost much of that holy respect for God’s glorious Name. When we use God’s Name, it is to be in a manner consistent with His character. We are to hold His Name in reverence, awe, respect and worship. (Ill. Psa. 66:2; Psa. 34:3; Psa. 29:2; Matt. 6:9)
II. GOD’S NAME IS A VIOLATED NAME
This verse tells us that it is wrong to use God’s Name in vain. This word means, “empty, idle, insincerely, phony, frivolous, lacking in reality and truth.” When we treat the Name of God as another by-word, it is nothing short of blasphemy! Sadly, we hear His Name degraded far more often that we hear it being exalted! There are 2 primary ways in which we violate the Blessed Name of God.
A. When We Use It As A Curse – How many times have we heard, or said, “Oh God!”; “Oh my God!”; “Jesus!”; Oh Jesus!”; “Oh Christ!”; “Jesus Christ!”; “God Almighty!”; or any of a thousand others just like those? Even Christians are guilty of saying things like, “Oh Lord!”; “My God!”; “Good God!” We’ve all done, but it is degrading to the Lord’s Name to throw it around so casually. Often, we are guilty of using slang expressions that we feel to be harmless, but which are actually derivatives from some form of God’s Name. Some are: “Gosh, golly, gee, gee whiz, cripes, criminy, jeeze.” Others are just a play on the mother of all curse words, “God Damn It.” They are: “Dog gone it; Gosh darn it; dang it; dad blame it, etc.” Often, men will attribute things to God which He had no part in by saying, “By God!” Others will seek to invoke His Name by saying “God Almighty!” No matter how you say it or how you slice it up, when we use the Lord’s Name in a vain way, we are guilty of violating the Holiest of all Names! (Ill. I haven’t even dealt with the little slang words we use when angry! You know what you say!”
Ill. Dr. L. Nelson Bell warns that a person who freely uses “hell, ” “damn,” and “devil” in his conversation may well be reminding himself of his destination, his condition, and his master.
B. When We Use It Casually – What I mean by that is this, Sunday after Sunday, Christians utter the Name of God in songs and in prayers and in testimonies, but often there is no sincerity and no genuine reverence for that Name. In other words, it just isn’t from the heart. It makes us sound spiritual, so we use it. But, when we invoke the wonderful Name of God, we are to do so with meaning and significance. Whenever that Name is used, it must be used reverently, respectfully and from a heart of adoration and worship. Otherwise, it is being used improperly and in vain. Beware, therefore, of the casual usage of God’s Holy name.
C. When We Use It As Camouflage – The most subtle way Christians take the Lord’s Name in vain in through hypocrisy. When we vow to God to do one thing and in turn do another, then we are guilty before Him. If His Name reveals His character, and we are going in His Name, then our hypocrisy sends a false image of God and therefore violates His Name. (Ill. “The hypocrisy of the church is far worse than the profanity of the street.” – Greg Laurie.) Ill. Luke 6:46. Do not be guilty of hiding behind the Name of God as a camouflage for evil!
III. GOD’S NAME WILL BE VINDICATED
A. There Will Be Punishment For The Violator – (Guiltless – clean, pure, free, innocent.) God will deal with those who willfully violate the sacredness of His Name. (Ill. Imagine having to stand before God and defend your profane use of His Name!) The person who uses God’s Name in vain can never be fully right with God and in position for His blessing until that sin is repented of.
B. A Path For The Christian – (Ill. After the Welsh revival of 1904, foul mouthed miners who had been saved returned to the mines and were faced with the task of retraining their mules. It seems that the animals were unable to understand the commands of the miners when there was no profanity used.)
(Ill. One day a farmer arrived home much later than his wife expected him, so she asked him what had taken so long. His reply was this, “Well, I picked up the preacher down the road, and after that moment, those horses couldn’t understand a thing I said to them.”)
God’s plan for His people is that we guard our tongues and that when we use His Name, we do so with reverence and respect. Christians have need to swear, or to attach an oath to their speech. God’s plan is this: Matt. 5:37; James 5:12. (Ill. Some might be asking, “What can I say then?” The less said, the better off you will be when you stand before the Lord! – Matt. 12:36.
Ill. A Missionary to the Orient witnessed a 20 year old native approach a heathen idol. He bowed before it and quickly pulled out a knife and cut out his own tongue, placing it before the idol. Within minutes, the young man had collapsed in a pool of his own blood at the idols feet. God doesn’t want your tongue cut from your head, but He does want it consecrated and dedicated wholly to His worship, His adoration and His glorification. How are you using your tongue? Remember, God’s last Name is not Damn!