“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
It’s here that we see the authority behind the admonition. One of the first duties of parents is to name their children which can be a difficult task as they read baby name books and field suggestions from family and friends. Sometimes they end up at the hospital without a decision about what to call their child! But one thing is certain the parents do the naming. Human beings do not name themselves. Our full names are given, not chosen, which shows that naming is an act of authority. By contrast, one of the remarkable things about God is that no one ever named him. God’s true name is chosen and revealed by God himself. When God revealed His name to Moses, I Am who I am, it spoke of God’s self-existence, self-sufficiency, and supreme sovereignty. We do not tell God who He is; He tells us, that is why His name is above all names, Philippians 2:9-11. Because of His authority we see thirdly His:
We don’t just revere His name we receive His name. Notice we must “not misuse the name of the Lord your God” Not a God but YOUR God, this is a personal relationship. Ephesians 1:3-5 tells us that at salvation we become kids of the King: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”Paul uses the concept of Roman adoption to express the importance of God’s people being called by His name. At adoption asum of money was exchanged between the parties and the child assumed the adoptive father’s name. Adoption was neither secretive nor considered to be shameful. Probably the most famous adopted man in Rome was Augustus Caesar. And there were no less than 7 other men all becoming Emperor through adoption. When we are saved, we get God’s name.Even though we are stilled flawed people we carry the name of the Father. In fact, sometimes it may seem that our new name doesn’t match our scarred life! Like the newspaper ad that read: “Lost, brown dog with several bald spots. Right leg broken due to auto accident. Left hip hurt. Right eye missing. Left ear bitten off in a dog fight. Answers to the name “Lucky.” But we need to remember that we are not defined by our failure but by our Father. And when we bear His name, we proclaim His power. When David came out to fight Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:45 says: “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”In the Act 3:6 when Peter met the lame man he said “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”There is power in the name of Jesus. But it’s not just about receiving His name it’s also about representing His Name. You see we are not just adopted we are:
- Ambassadors – Ephesians 1:12-14
God doesn’t just invite us to call Him by name but to carry His name. We are His Ambassadors. An Ambassador from the United States lives in another country but represents this nation. How they live reflects on the country they represent. We represent Christ and His Kingdom, and our life should reflect that. An ambassador NEVER speaks for the country they represent without first checking to make sure what they say is what their country says. This is also true for us as Christians, we proclaim His plan not ours. Are you a witness to His Will or your wants? Do our attitudes and actions show that we bear it in vain or in victory? When the 3rd commandment says, “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God” it is NOT speaking about unbelievers who use God’s name in cursing, it is speaking about God’s people failing to represent His name correctly to a watching world. While we often cringed at unbelievers who use God’s name to curse, how much more damaging is it when a believer misuses God’s name through their actions and attitudes! Because we live in a society that is permeated with profanity, I thought it would be helpful to give some suggestions on how to respond to unsaved people who take the Lord’s name in vain. First:
- Don’t be surprised when sinners sin. Stop expecting unsaved people to act like Saints when they don’t have the power of the Spirit of God in their lives to sanctify their life.
- Weep and then worship. We should be grieved when God’s name is dragged into the gutter. I heard about a young woman who started weeping when a man started cursing. This broke him and he stopped.
- Watch your words and attitude. Be gentle, don’t be self-righteous or spiritually smug: “I told him off because he used God’s name in vain…now he knows where I stand.” I’ll never forget when I was roofing houses and a guy from another crew cursed God. I was on him and let him have it. He knew what I thought of him, but he didn’t know what Christ thought of him. I didn’t use my position to point him to Jesus but to judgment. I failed to represent the Father and His forgiveness and instead of beingan ambassador I was a fool. Instead of acting like an idiot we can:
- Use questions to spark conversation. “I didn’t know you were so religious. “Do you really want God to answer your prayer?
- Point people to Jesus Christ. Bad language shows how far away people are from God, but it also proves the existence of God, otherwise they wouldn’t use His name so much. After the Welsh revival of 1904, foul mouthed miners who had come to Christ and been converted had to retrain their mules because they were no longer able to understand their commands without the use of cussing. How are you handling God’s holy name? Are you living as an adopted ambassador of Jesus Christ, representing His plan of peace to the people you meet?