His Holy Name, Our Reverent Life

Scripture: Exodus 20:7, Psalm 111:9, Exodus 3:13-15
Date: 04/20/2013 
Why is it wrong to use God's name in vain? Why does He care about that?
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Morning - and I want to welcome everybody once again and wish you a happy Sabbath. If you're visiting central you're probably wondering what - what is this display? And if you're joining us we should let you know that we are in the middle of a series that we're doing dealing with the ten commandments. Now the Ten Commandments, of course, are unique in that this was the one time when God spoke audibly to an entire nation and this is the one exception in Scripture where he did not communicate to a man through the Holy Spirit to write something down, but God said, 'I will write this myself.' And not only that but - God not only wrote it, he wrote it on something different. It's not written on paper, it's written on stone. And so, this is a special Revelation from God that we find in his law and we think that, especially today when people are beginning to wonder, 'well, you know, Christians don't really need to keep the law, do they?' And what does it mean when it says in the Bible we're not under the law? Does that mean that we're no longer required to keep the ten commandments? What law is it talking about? And so, we thought it was very important in our day and age to address this issue and to exalt the law of God and to talk about - the Bible refers to it as 'the ten words' - the covenant that God made.

Old covenant - Ten Commandments written on stone. New covenant - Ten Commandments written on the heart. But the Ten Commandments have not changed and we've already had three presentations, this would be the fourth one. One was an introduction. Today we're talking about the third commandment.

If you have your Bibles I invite you to go there with me. And you can read in Exodus 20, verse 7 - it's not the longest of the Ten Commandments, but it certainly is important. Exodus 20, verse 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." Twice it says 'the name' 'the name' of God. And, by the way, for our young people, you heard mrs. Rengifo say - you might just want to make a note of how many times you hear me say that word 'name' or 'names' in our message today.

I'd like to hear because I think it's going to be quite a few. Now, we're going to be talking about a very serious name - the name of God. And because it is such an important and a serious subject, we need to recognize that not all names are as serious and people have unique names. Some have names that are hard to pronounce and if we'll be honest, some people have funny names. I think I've put one up here on the - yeah - can you believe that there's actually a person named 'hugh mungus' out there? There was this fellow that worked in an office environment and he had been stuck with the name 'charlie stink' and whenever he told anyone his name they would snicker and his friends in the office where he worked said, 'charlie, you really need to do something about your name.

It's not that difficult, you can go to the courthouse, there's a process that's not that expensive, but you really need to change your name.' And, you know, every time someone snickered in the office they said, 'you know, you can fix that.' And so he said, 'alright, alright.' And so one Friday afternoon he went down and had his name changed and he showed up at work on Monday and everybody wanted to know, 'so charlie, what name did you pick?' He said, 'well, I changed it to george stink' - he said, - 'but I don't know what difference it's going to make.' He thought everyone thought charlie was a funny name. There was a name named Jacob bomb in New York - a Jewish gentleman - and they actually had the audacity to name their son 'adam' - adam bomb. And we've all heard about the hogg sisters - this farmer he - his last name was hogg - it was his name, and that's funny enough by itself, but he had a sense of humor and so he named one daughter ima and named the other one ura. This is true, you've heard of the learjet - the learjet - the family that makes the learjet - and you can look her up and look at her picture - they named their daughter shanda - shanda lear. Think about it.

There was a man - now he got his name, I guess, before it became a household word, but his name was albert k. Seltzer and so his name was al k. Seltzer. I had a friend - this is true - I had a friend, his name was jerry mello, and he and his wife - I don't remember her name - but they named their son marshall - marshall mello. And my father, one of his many wives, her name was mary ann and so her initials were mary a.

Batchelor. That's right. There is a doctor and his name - his last name was payne. That would be bad enough, but his parents, not knowing what his profession would be, they named him daryl brian payne and so his thing said daryl b. Payne - for a doctor - daryl b.

Payne. People have trouble with my name. Not the Batchelor part, but we just came back from the Philippines - they can't say 'doug' - they called me 'dog' - pastor dog. And when I'm working with the navajos they said 'pastor duck' - it was always 'duck'. And when I told them - first told them my name, they thought that was very funny and it took me awhile to figure out why - they thought I was saying 'duck'.

But - and I don't know about you, but I sometimes have trouble remembering names. Is there anyone else out there? You know, what makes it tough is, I don't always remember your names and I've been here twenty years. And you think, 'I know a lot of them.' I mean, when you think about how many names I've got to remember. And sometimes I'll run into you or others that I've, you know, people I've married, I've baptized them and I'll see them - and it's tough on the kids because they grow up and they change. And I'm going, 'uh uh, I know them.

' 'Pastor Doug!' And I'm hoping someone around them will say their name while I'm talking to them so I could say something and if you're over sixty, I just ask you, 'so I heard you were sick?' And I'm usually right. And then you...but, you know, we can laugh at our names and we have trouble with our names and some of them are hard to pronounce, but while we are thinking about all the different handles that people have, there is a name, as in our memory verse, that is above every name and there is a name that should not be taken lightly or in a flippant way and God says that it should not be taken in vain and he goes on to reinforce that by saying, 'not only should you not do it, but you will not be found guiltless if you do.' Which means you will be found guilty if you disrespect his name. This is a name to reverence, the name of God. Now maybe I should explain that the word 'vain' - when we say, 'thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain' - the word 'vain' in Hebrew, it comes from the word 'sheva' and there's really no exact english equivalent so it's a difficult word. This is one of the places where the niv version, for that commandment, makes it a little clearer.

It says, 'you shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. the Lord will not hold him guiltless who misuses his name.' James moffett, in his translation, he renders it, 'you shall not take the name of the eternal, your God, profanely.' That word in Hebrew - that word that we translate 'vain' - it means 'in a desolating way or in an evil way or in a morally disrespectful way or a useless way or in a vain way'. We should not, in any way, malign or misuse or disrespect the name of God. It is the most important name - even among the pagans of antiquity, they taught their people to revere and respect the names of their Gods. How much more the name of jehovah? The Bible tells us - psalm 111, verse 9, "holy and reverent is his name.

" And every now and then I'll go to some ministerial function and they'll give me a name badge - it happened just a little while ago. Karen and I went to a community religious event and they gave different name tags to the pastors and it'll say, 'reverend Batchelor' and I - I always, you know, I'll flip it around and I'll write 'Pastor Doug'. I think there's only one name that we are to treat as holy and reverend and it's not the pastor. I think it's important to be respectful of your college professors and pastors and policemen and Judges - good thing to call them 'your honor' or to call the policemen 'officer'. I think terms of respect, that's important, but the Bible says, 'holy and reverend is his name' and so that's the name that's to be treated with ultimate respect.

It also says furthermore, in Leviticus 24:16, "and whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death." And if you read this story in Leviticus, there was a half jew/half Egyptian man that had blasphemed the name of God and he was brought to Moses and they said, 'we don't know what to do. It says you 'will not hold him guiltless that takes your name in vain' so what's the penalty?' And Moses took it before the lord and he said, 'he should be stoned.' He was executed for it. Of course, they were living in the presence of God with the glory of God. It was a pretty severe penalty. So, it's serious business when we, especially as God's people, do not respect and revere the name of the almighty.

There - if there is any name - if there is any word that is to be spoken carefully, that is to be taken reverently and with trembling on our lips, it should be God's name. If not, what is it? What else would it be? And yet, sometimes we're very careless with the way that we say his name. Now, in the commandment, when it says, 'do not take the name of the Lord disrespectfully', that would also embrace the opposite - it implies the opposite. Not only are you not to take his name profanely, that means you are to take his name in a positive, reverent, holy way. So the commandment also implies the positive.

That - the very fact that it's saying 'do not take his name disrespectfully' means you should take it respectfully. It doesn't mean don't ever utter his name, it means when you do it, do it the right way. It's like when Jesus said, 'in the last days watch out for false prophets', well that means somewhere there's going to be true prophets and he said be careful about the false ones. See what I'm saying? It implies the positive as well. Now you remember when Moses went to the Lord and he says - in Exodus 3 - God appears to him at the burning bush and he says, ''behold, when I come to the children of Israel and I say to them, 'the God of your fathers has sent me to you' and they'll say to me, 'what is his name?' Then what should I say to them?' Then God said to Moses, 'I am that I am:' and he said, 'thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I am hath sent me unto you.

' '' So, one of the supreme words that is used to reflect the name of God is that special, unique, holy title that he gave to Moses. It's the proper name of God, you might say, but it's not the only name of God. Maybe you've heard of this latin phrase the 'tetragrammaton' - tetragrammaton. 'Tetra' is telling us there 'four' - any of you every play that computer game called 'tetris'? It's because it's dealing with cubes - four cornered things. The tetragrammaton is from Greek and it means 'four letters'.

These four sacred letters y-h-w-h. Now, they're principally consonants and the jews did not insert the vowels because this was a holy name and so the exact pronunciation of that name is largely a mystery. And if you study it and you study it honestly, you're going to find out that nobody knows exactly how that was said because whenever the jews came to that name they were so afraid that they would say the name of God disrespectfully that they would substitute the word 'lord' - 'adonai' and as you're reading through your Bible you know whenever you see the word 'lord' in capital in your Bibles - I know it's in king James and probably in new king James - most of the modern Bibles - whenever the word - that sacred name of God - we pronounce it in Hebrew 'yahweh' or the latin version of it is 'jehovah' - same word. My friends that are jehovah's witnesses, they're quite certain that we're only supposed to say jehovah. Well, they're, in fact, saying the latin wording for that name.

And we, typically, don't call God yahweh, but that's not inappropriate. It's not inappropriate if you say jehovah. That's one of his names. Often we say 'the Lord' - 'the Lord almighty' - but the exact pronunciation of that name is something of a mystery. Now, the reason I talk about that - you're going to run into people that think when it talks about not taking the name of the lord in vain it's a command to pronounce his name correctly - that it's all dealing with pronunciation.

I don't think that the commandment is talking about that because in every language everybody says God's name in their language - in their tongue. For instance, with the name of Jesus, we say 'Jesus'. If you're spanish it's 'Jesus'. If you're Jewish it's 'yeshua'. You see what I'm saying? God expects us to speak our language and so, the idea of saying the name of God this certain way and if you don't say it this certain way that you - God's not going to hear your prayers, it's almost like some kind of magic abracadabra that you're supposed to utter - it's a word - and if you don't pronounce the syllables and the emphasis in just the right accent that God's not going to answer your prayers.

God's bigger than that. But you'll meet those people and they're very hung up on the right pronunciation. Matter of fact, there are Bible translations that you're going to find - I'm surprised how they proliferated - where people have actually gone to the great trouble of reprinting the entire Bible and everywhere it says 'lord' or 'adonai' where it should have had that sacred name of God, they have now put in the word 'yahweh' because they're sure it's supposed to be pronounced 'yahweh'. Well, I've talked to different rabbis and they have a - there's a spectrum of different ways they think that could have been pronounced. 'Yohwah' is one of them.

I met one rabbi that he said he thought it was 'ooeeowa'. It sounded like a Hawaiian word to me. And so everybody's trying to figure out 'how do you say that?' And if you could just figure that out - if you could crack the mystery of the pronunciation you get special points with God. No, I don't think so. When he talks about not taking his name in vain I don't believe God's emphasis has to do with the pronunciation, I think it has to do with the reverence and respect for his title of who he is.

Jesus tells us in the last days there'll be lots of people that say his name but they don't live right. Matthew chapter 7:21, "not everyone who says to me, 'lord, lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, 'lord, lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who work iniquity.'" So the emphasis is not in saying his name or doing things in his name outwardly. The best way to not take the name of God in vain is to live like a Christian. You know - I - you know, it's almost politically incorrect to mention this today, but there was the day that when a woman married a man, she took his name.

Karen had to struggle with that. She would get married and become a Batchelor. Think about that. It's usually the other way around, right? And, you know, in our culture that was more common, but what if she took my name but moved in with some other guy? She would be taking my name in vain. She'd be claiming to be married to me but giving her love to someone else.

And that, I think, is the bigger issue. When we take the name of God and we say, 'I am a Christian' and yet we live like the world, we're taking the name of God in vain. And that - they will not be held guiltless that take the name of the Lord in vain. It's not built around the pronunciation. You know, I remember there's a story in the Bible when the children of Israel were warring among themselves.

The problem is they all looked alike and they all dressed alike and the people of ephraim were warring with some of the other tribes and they thought, 'well how do we know if these people of ephraim are fleeing from the battle or whether they're from the tribe of manasseh?' And they said, 'you know what? The people of ephraim, they cannot say the word 'shibboleth'. They can't pronounce it. They say, 'sibboleth'. And when they have to cross the Jordan, we'll ask them, 'say 'shibboleth'' and if they were from ephraim they'd go 'sibbolath'. They'd kill them.

So they had this test and everybody that couldn't pronounce it right - we even have that problem here in the u.s., Right? You go to Louisiana or ArKansas and then you go to boston - we've been hearing boston - New York - a lot. They don't say 'law' they say 'lar' and I used to live in boston. The pronunciation is very different. Then you go to Texas and - that's been in the news this week too, right? And you think, just even within our borders we're all one people but you've got some pretty different accents. So, is the Lord judging us on our accent? You know, I remember years ago - some of you may remember this - when mitsubishi was first introduced to the United States, Americans were not used to this new japanese car name, mitsubishi - we can all say it now because most of this generation has grown up.

But the mitsubishi company realized that Americans weren't about to buy their car - they couldn't even say it - when it was first introduced. And they did a commercial - I'll never forget - they did a commercial of an American who came into a mitsubishi dealership and he's looking at the car and he can't say the name of the car and the japanese car dealer, who actually works there, he's trying to help him say it. He's saying, 'mitsubishi' and he's going 'mishubi' and he's working his mouth and trying to help him say it and exasperated at the end the japanese salesman says, 'that's alright, I can't say 'chebroret'.' He couldn't say 'chevrolet' in case you didn't get that. So, is God going to judge us if we don't pronounce it right? I mean, haven't you all known people that maybe have some impediment or they're born with an accent and they just - that's not what it's talking about - saying the name of God. It's talking about taking his name and not living like you know Jesus, amen? Now, God has many names.

Let's not get hung up on one. One of the longest reigning queens in the world is actually the current queen of england, queen elizabeth ii, and when she first ascended the throne - she was still a young lady - her private secretary asked her which regional name would she like to be addressed as and she said, 'my own, of course, what else?' Because they often give monarchs very special names. But even her official title - this is the official title of queen elizabeth ii - her majesty elizabeth ii by the grace of God, of great britain, ireland, head of the commonwealth and the british dominions beyond the sea, queen defender of the faith. Royalty took their names very seriously and the more majesty and royalty they had, sometimes the bigger and more numerous their names. I was reading this week that emperor baldwin ii of constantinople, whenever he was required to sign his name to any official document, they took two days for him to sign his one name.

It was - they'd sign half of it - it was so long - his title - he'd sign half of it one day and then he'd rest and then he'd sign the other half the other day because it was the name of majesty and that was they royal protocol because this was the name of a monarch. Well, you know, in the Bible it tells us God has many names. And we'll get to that in a minute but we know it says in Isaiah 9:6, "and his name will be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace." You notice it says 'his name'. It doesn't say 'his names'. It says 'his name will be called' and then it gives you multiple names for God because if an earthly monarch can have a lengthy title, then if anyone deserves a blizzard of different words that describe who they are, that would be the name of God.

It's the most abundant. You know, I read in the Bible there are about 240 different titles that you can find for God The Father and God The Son in the Bible, that may be also including God the Holy Spirit, I don't know. I'll share more of those with you later. In Philippians - we read this during our memory verse - 'therefore, God has highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. So this is a majestic name because people worship at that name.

They hear that name they bow down. Not only here on earth, but it says 'of those in heaven and those on the earth and those under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is lord to the glory of God The Father.' Now, by the way, that is one proof that Jesus is also God The Son, that he should be worshiped. And the Bible says you should worship God only, isn't that right? And the fact that we're told to kneel and worship at the name of Jesus - well, unless God is violating his own law, Jesus is God The Son. When Christ told us to pray, how did he command us to pray? He said, 'pray in this manner.' What's the first thing? 'Our father which art in heaven, hallowed...' You know, something - something about this commandment that is unique - you can find virtually all of the other ten commandments repeated in the new testament, but where in the new testament do you find the third commandment? The closest you get is to the Lord's prayer where it says, 'hallowed be thy name'. But you don't find that third commandment repeated word for word anywhere in the new testament.

Now I mention that because when we get to the fourth commandment you're going to hear - and you've probably already heard - people say, 'well, we don't have to worry about the fourth commandment because it's the only one that's not repeated in the new testament.' Have you heard that before? Yeah, that is just a myth. It's one of those things that you repeat and people believe it but it's totally untrue. The commandment you don't find repeated in the new testament is the third commandment. But does that mean it's okay now for us as believers to take God's name in vain? Of course not! I've never heard anyone use that argument and so it's a bad argument when you get to the fourth commandment also. God's name is majestic.

His name is to be taken seriously and with reverence. It's a holy name. Now, in this commandment - you know, when I was growing up, if I ever cursed and I'm not proud to say, but I grew up in a family where profanity was very common. My father cursed and I - as far back as I can remember I heard it. My mother cursed.

My grandparents cursed. And just everything under the sun. I won't demonstrate but just - I know all the words because I just grew up hearing all of that. This commandment does, at least, include a prohibition against profanity. Christians should not be misusing their native tongue and speaking profane words.

Psalm 8, verse 1, "o lord, our lord, how excEllent is your name in all the earth, who have set your glory above the heavens!" He has an excEllent name. It's a name that should not be mingled with profanity. Matter of fact, Christians shouldn't speak profanity at all. If you say you're a Christian and you speak vile and dirty and profane words - and, you know, is it just me or whoever are the censors checking what goes across television - is it just me or have they become increasingly sloppy over the years and letting more and more through? There are words that they never would have allowed when I was growing up, on television, that are just very common now. And it's not just like nighttime programming - in the middle of the day - and crude language.

Why does a person resort to profanity? You know, I remember hearing a very moving speech given by the famous radio announcer Paul harvey. Karen was with me and we were at an 'it is written' partnership meeting and he said, 'you know, the english language has been so good to me, I don't know why people would want to muddy it up by using profane words because you can say what you need to say, if you're intelligent, by using good words.' And usually when a person resorts to profanity it often indicates that, for one thing, they don't have much self-control. It often indicates a lack of education. They can't find good words in their vocabulary so they resort to very crude, common words and - trying to get a reaction or a cheap laugh. I think the best comedians are the ones who can get people to laugh without resorting to being dirty.

And, well, enough about that. They just kind - I remember - colonel sanders, you know, the one who started Kentucky fried chicken? He was converted to Christianity and he was a very faithful tithe payer all of his life and God, obviously, blessed him for that but he said that following his conversion it cost him half of his vocabulary because, I guess he had the other vocabulary. And that happened to me. You know, one of the signs, for me, that God was real and the Holy Spirit was real is after I became a Christian and I became convicted that it was inappropriate - you know for a while, even after I accepted Jesus, I kept speaking those words. But every time I did, I realized it just didn't seem right.

Before - I just grew up - it was my vocabulary. And after accepting Jesus I finally became convicted and I said, 'lord, you're going to have to help me because this is so deeply ingrained that it just comes out without even thinking. And one of the greatest proofs that God is real to me is from the time I prayed that prayer, every time I got ready to utter some profane word, it's like this emergency brake that was on my tongue and I'd get ready to say it and it's like - errrt - it would just - I'd say, 'oh, I'd better find another word.' And it forced me to expand my vocabulary, for one thing. And it just happened so often I thought, 'this is a miracle!' Every time - I wouldn't even be trying and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit would say, 'uh! Doug, pause. Find another word.

Insert good word. Take out bad word.' And the - if you knew me back then and you heard me talk back then you'd say, 'boy, that is a miracle, doug. We had no idea.' I wouldn't want you to know me back then but the Holy Spirit, I believe, can make those changes in our minds. He can transform us in that way. Colossians 4:6, "let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

" Ecclesiastes 10, verse 12, "the words of a wise man's mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool shall swallow him up;" now while we're talking about profanity, and you're never to take the name of the Lord in vain, there are a number of other expletives that are sort of in that gray area. For example, sometimes people say, 'oh, I would never say God's name in vain in cursing.' But you'll hear them say, 'gosh darn'. I felt bad even saying it just now but I needed to tell you so you'd know. That's really a derivative. That's like you want to go all the way but - so you're going to customize using God's name in vain.

And how many people do you know will say that? Or, 'I will not say Jesus' name in vain.' But they'll say, 'gee whiz'. And there's a number of other of these halfway expletives that people use and you - you know, 'let your yea be yea and your nay be nay' if you're a Christian. If it's not good or it's doubtful, it's dirty. If it's doubtful, it's dirty. It's like that old scotsman that was hanging up his shirt one morning looking through the window wondering if it was good enough and clean enough to wear another day and he sniffed it and his wife said, 'if it's doubtful, it's dirty.

' And so, if you've got doubts, find another word. There's plenty. They say that you can measure a person's intelligence often by the extent of their vocabulary they can call upon. You will increase your perceived iq if you don't use those words and you find other words. Does anyone ever think a person's more intelligent because they cuss? No.

They certainly don't think you know God. So we should be careful. We should teach our children to be careful. And I don't know about you, friends but, you know, I think in order for you to keep this commandment about not taking God's name in vain, to really keep it, you need to be converted because when you love the Lord and when you're born again, when you love Jesus and you see how he died for your sins and then you hear people in public using his name carelessly, it grieves - it pierces your heart because you love him and you think, 'how can they do that?' You know, I have to keep myself from confronting and rebuking people publically because I'd be rebuking people all day long. When I hear people using God's name carelessly or in vain or you're at the health club and you want to just be telling people - and if they're friends I will tell them.

I'll say, 'you know, you know I'm a Christian. I just need to let you know it really grieves me when I hear you use God's name in vain. Can you find a substitute or something? But in order for you to understand what that means, you have to love him. When you love him, you don't want people to defile or profane his name. So it's a change of heart.

All of the commandments are summed up in love. If you're going to really keep God's law, you need to love him. But, hey friends, I've got advice for you: if you don't think you love him, fake it in the meantime. No, really. You may not be paying tithe for the right reason - do it anyway.

You may not not be using God's name in vain for the right reason - well, in the meantime, obey anyway and, you know what? Somewhere along the way it can become real. But start doing the right thing anyway. But, ultimately, you need to love him. While we're on this subject, it's still appropriate that we talk about God's name in relationship to a vow or an oath. Jesus talks about this - actually, I should quote Moses first.

Leviticus 19:12, "and you shall not swear by my name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord." When the Lord wants to invoke the best reason for obeying this, he says 'because I am.' What was his name? I am that I am. That sacred name of God, yahweh, that we were talking about, that means 'the self-existent one; the one who is eternally.' Jesus said - Matthew 5:33, "again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'you shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.'" - Or even keep it in your head for that matter - "'but let your 'yes''" - I added that part - "'but let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no,' 'no.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one." So when people start doing these extravagant oaths and vows - you know, I catch myself doing it. You say, 'boy, you know, I promise. You've got my word on this.

' And you go, 'why, isn't your word good? You have to add something to it?' If you're always honest and if you're always telling the truth, then why would you have to make a vow? How is a - why would you want to be the kind of person where a person has to always say, 'are you swearing? Are you vowing? Is that an oath?' That would imply 'otherwise, can't be trusted.' See what I'm saying? You should - every word ought to be - someone once was talking about the baptist Christians in scandinavia and they said, 'every word they speak is an oath.' And it was because they were so honest that someone who was talking about them said, 'everything they say is as true as an oath.' But, you know, by the time of Christ the pharisees had this elaborate, intricate series of oaths. They'd say, 'if you swear by the temple you don't really have to keep that vow, but if you swear by the gold of the temple...' And it's kind of like a person saying, 'yes I made a promise but I had my fingers crossed behind my back.' You know - any of you remember that? That was somehow the escape clause. I don't know where that came from. Or a person would say, 'I dare you.' 'Well, I double dare you.' And you got into these little word games that we play. 'Do you promise?' 'I promise.

' 'You promise on your mother's grave.' You ever heard that one? They'd just make it more and more - it's like you think, 'well, wouldn't the Lord's name be more important that even your mother's grave? I mean, because you take the name of the Lord as being a Christian, wouldn't that be enough? Why do you have to add all these other things? And that's where Jesus is saying, 'let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no.' He talks about this again in Matthew 23:16 - talking to the hypocrites that make a big deal of vowing. "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.' Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it. Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by him who sits on it.

" He's basically saying, anytime you take an oath that it's serious. Now, by the way, was this - you know, some Christians say you're not allowed to take any kind of an oath. For instance, you go into a court of law and you say, 'because Jesus said to let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no' you're forbidden to take any kind of oath. This is not what Jesus was saying, because in the old testament it was clear enough they could take an oath and that was sort of a formal promise that they were not about to perjure themselves. And you go to a court today some will still have you put your hand on the Bible.

Some will simply have you lift your right hand and say, 'I do swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.' They still do that, right? Bailiffs still. Is it forbidden for Christians to do that? No. Did Jesus respond to an oath during his trial? Yes. When the high priest said, 'I adjure thee by the most high God, tell us whether thou art the Christ.' Jesus answered his question. He said, 'it is as you say.

' And so, he wasn't saying that it's wrong to take an oath for some public document. No, of course it's okay for Christians to do that and I wouldn't misconstrue it that way, but your word ought to be so good that - my dad did business with some people and he told me this person is so honest I could make a million-dollar deal with him on a handshake. Before the contract is ever signed I know their word is good. Isn't that the way it used to be? A person's word was their bond and your word was good. When you made a promise, you said you were going to do something, someone could take it to the bank, as they say, that you were going to keep your promise.

So, so much for swearing and vows. You know, really, when we talk about the name of God, what we're dealing with is God's reputation. The Bible is talking more about reputation than pronunciation. I think you maybe heard me mention one time there was an ad in a paper years ago. Someone was looking for a lost dog and it said, 'lost: one dog.

Brown hair. Several bald spots. Right leg broken due to an accident. Left hip is hurt. Right eye is missing.

Left ear bitten off in a fight. Answers to the name 'lucky'. That dog had a nominal name. You know what 'nominal' means? In name only. Out there you have nominal Christians.

A nominal Christian is someone who is a Christian in name only. What has done the greatest harm to the Christian church? Isn't it people who take the name Christian but they don't live like Christ. They are nominal Christians. They got the name 'lucky' but they're not. You know, they have a big problem in North America, especially in los angeles, with all these cargo ships coming in.

They've got warehouses there that are filled with product and what they are is stolen name-brands. Yeah, I mean, if you're going to buy levi - if you're going to buy jeans would you rather have either levi's or wrangler's as opposed to, you know, just something you get at a flea Market made in china? Nothing against any chinese who may be watching, but aren't there supposed to be certain quality differences that you might get from an official addidas or nike tennis shoe as opposed to the wal-mart chinese variety. You'd think there's a little higher quality there because there's a branding, right? Well they're stealing the brands and they're putting these expensive name brands on junk and they ship it into America and the customs officials they spot these containers of this stuff and they store it because they can't ship it back and they can't sell it and they've got these burgeoning warehouses that have this stolen merchandise - it's not stolen, rather it's fraud merchandise because it's got these famous name brands but they're not made by the real manufacturer, they're junk. I remember when we were in china someone came up to us at the gate of some hotel and he said, 'I've got some valuable rolex watches.' And I'm curious, I said, 'let me see.' And he unfolded this little display - he had a board with all these watches kind of pinned to it and, sure enough, they said 'rolex' and they looked like they were gold and I took a close look and you could just see something wasn't right but they were really close. They were really good.

I didn't buy any. First of all, it looked really shady. The other thing is, I was quite certain that, though it said 'rolex' on the outside, it was 'taiwan' on the inside - or something else. And we've got a lot of people out there that are branded on the outside 'Christian' but their hearts are still worldly and when it says taking the name of the Lord in vain it means have that change of heart. That's the only way you can really keep that command.

The Bible tells us "a good name is better than great riches' - Proverbs 22:1. In Ecclesiastes - same author - chapter 7, verse 1, "a good name is better than precious ointment." A lot of times in the Bible, when it talks about a good name, it's talking about a reputation. Who has the best reputation? Who has the best name in the world? Who's got a life that matches the life of Jesus? No one has that kind of name and so, when it talks about the name of the Lord, he's - you know, every parent - you've got a family name and you have children and as you live a little while you make friends, you develop a reputation and you would like for your children to represent the family with their lives. And if, heaven forbid, your son or daughter ends up on the cover of national enquirer because they've done something terrible, it hurts your name, right? Meaning, it hurts your reputation. What have nominal Christians done to the reputation of God in the world? We've taken his name in vain and the world laughs.

The name of God is blasphemed because of that. Matter of fact, when David sinned with bathsheba, nathan the prophet came to him and said, 'you know, this is going to get out. Here you had such a great name. David, you had such a great reputation. You went from victory to victory.

You had great intrigue - spirit filled' - and nathan said - 2 Samuel 12:14, "howbeit, because by this deed thou has given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme." Don't the people of the world love it when a professed Christian does something embarrassing? They love it. They loved to grandstand when the televangelists fell. They loved to highlight that because you know what? It justifies them staying in their sins. It justifies them not surrendering their lives to Jesus. The devil and the people who follow him are always looking for a good excuse to wag their finger at the name of God.

Romans 2:24, he said, "for 'the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you.'" The name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you. He was, of course, talking to the jews. And then, finally, almost finally, Exodus 20:7, "the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain." That means it's serious business that ought to make us tremble. You know, from the - an article - 'signs of the times' /18/1886 - there e.g. White wrote, "angels are displeased and disgusted with the irreverent manner in which the name of God, the great jehovah is sometimes used in prayer.

" Now, even if you're using God's name in prayer - "they mention that name with the greatest awe," - the angels mention that name with the greatest awe - "even veiling their faces when they speak the name of God." - Angels veil their faces - "the name of Christ also is sacred and spoken with the greatest reverence. And those who, in their prayers, use the name of God in a common and flippant manner, have no sense of the exalted character of God or Christ or of heavenly things." You know, if we could all be transported into the presence of God in the cosmos where he sits on his throne surrounded by ten thousand times ten thousand powerful bright ministering spirits and just hear the awesome music and see the majesty and the power of God and the great expanse of his dominion, we would - we'd be careful even to say his name and if we were going to say it, say it with reverence. It's usually a - it indicates we don't really have a concept of his magnificence, how awesome he is - and you and I know that, you know, today everybody is sort of downplaying the majesty of God and they want God to be a friend of the children and so we err on the other side and we address God with this buddy-buddy mentality and we forget about how awesome his name is and that it's to be treated with respect. You know, and then finally, the Bible tells us that, of course, we pray in his name. It's the name in which our prayers are answered, right? When it says we pray in his name, does that mean just you mention his name and pronounce it correctly at the end of a prayer? Just don't forget to punctuate the end of your prayer with 'in Jesus' name, amen.

' That's what we often think. In the book 'steps to Christ' page 100, the author says there, "to pray in the name of Jesus is something more than the mere mention of that name at the beginning or at the ending of a prayer. It's to pray in the mind and in the Spirit of Jesus." While we believe his promises, rely on his grace, and work his works, to pray in his name means to be a believer, to be doing the works of God, to be coming in his name because we're his child. Christ tells us that we should be wanting to use his name. It's not a prohibition against it, but let's do it in spirit and in truth.

And then finally, in Revelation chapter 7 - I said 'finally' three times, didn't i? - We ultimately - it tells us that those saved in the last days, you know how they're going to be sealed? All the wicked are going to have the Mark of the beast in their foreheads or their hands, right? How about the saved? What do they have? Revelation 7:3, "'do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.'" What's in their foreheads? Revelation 14:1, "then I looked, and behold, a lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having his father's name written on their foreheads." Do you think that name will be written in the mind and in the forehead of anybody that is using it carelessly now? If we are disrespecting and taking his name profanely or vainly now, will we have that name in our foreheads? I think that a good starting point for having God's name in our foreheads in that day is by now recognizing it is the name above every name. It's that holy name. Jesus said, Revelation 3:12, "he who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God." God is going to write his name in our foreheads. You know, the important thing for us is to understand that is a name that represents many names that define who Jesus is.

I told you, before closing, that I would share with you just some of the names of God that you find in the Bible. Because he's a king, he's got a lot of names. The Bible says that he is called: an advocate, he's called a lamb, he's called the resurrection and the life. He's called the shepherd and bishop of our souls. He's called the judge, the Lord of lords, the man of sorrows, the head of the church, master, faithful and true witness, the rock, the high priest, the door, the living water, the bread of life, the rose of sharon.

He is the alpha and omega, the true vine, the Messiah, the teacher, the holy one, the mediator, the beloved, the branch, the carpenter, the good shepherd, the light of the world, the image of the invisible God, the word, the cornerstone, the Savior, the servant, the author and finisher of our faith, the almighty, the everlasting father, shiloh, lion from the tribe of judah, the I am, the King of Kings, the prince of princes, the prince of peace, the bridegroom, the only begotten son, wonderful, counselor, immanuel, Son of God, dayspring. He is the amen, the King of jews, the prophet, the redeemer, the anchor, the bright and morning star. He is the way, the truth, and the life. There are a kaleidoscope of beautiful words that describe the character and personality and the reputation of God and this is important for us to know because these all represent attributes that we are to model in our lives. The Bible is telling us that we are to follow him and the more we follow him, the more we fix our eyes on him, little by little that image is being impressed on our souls and his name is being written in our foreheads.

We become like him. People will look at us and say, 'they've been with Jesus. I can tell because they reflect the name of God.' I want his name to be in me and I want to treat it with reverence and respect. Is that your prayer, friends?

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