Bless That Wonderful Name

Bible Book: Exodus  20 : 07
Subject: Name, God's; God's Name; God's name in Vain; Cursing
Series: Ten Commandments - God's Way, The Right Way

Bless That Wonderful Name

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

Exodus 20:7

We come now to the third commandment. The title of the message is, "Bless That Wonderful Name." Indeed, we should bless that wonderful name rather than blaspheming, cursing, abusing and misusing it, as is so often the case in today's society. The third commandment specifically prohibits the misuse and abuse of the name of God. One might ask why it is a matter of importance how one uses the name of the Lord.

Actually, names, all names, are important things and they always have been extremely significant. Your name is important to you. You do not like to see your name misspelled. You certainly don't want to see or hear your name used in a demeaning manner.

A man is said to have gone before a judge to have his name changed. The judge looked at his request and said, "I see your name is Bill Stinks. I can certainly see why you want your name changed. You are the only person I have ever known with the name Stinks."

The man before the judge said, "Yes, your honor, I want my name changed." The judge asked, "To what are you seeking to change your name?" The man replied, "I want my name changed to George Stinks!"

It seems that Mr. Stinks was more appreciative of his last name that the judge had thought. Actually, all of us are particular when it comes to the use of our names. Have you ever had your name misspelled in a newspaper or a church bulletin? Doesn't it sting a little when you see that someone didn't even spell your name correctly?

My wife's first name is Jayne. I asked her mother why she spelled her name with a "y" rather than the simple and usual spelling, "J-A-N-E." She told me that she expected Jayne to be a boy and had a boy's name picked out for her child. When they told her that she had a baby girl, she was not prepared. They asked, "What name do you wish you give her?" She decided on a name that quickly came to mind and named her Jayne; however, she said, "I want you to spell it, J - A - Y - N - E. I don't want her to be plain Jane." Well, as all of you know, Jayne is not plain Jane!

Sometimes people send a card or letter to us and they will spell her name correctly. Jayne will say, "Look, honey, they spelled my name right!" Now, if our names mean that much to us, how much more does God's name mean to Him?

You could go a step further in this analogy. How would you like to wake up in the morning and find that your name has been linked to a murder? There it is - it bold print - on the front page - with your photo beside of it. MURDERER! What would you do? You know the newspaper made a mistake. So, would you just shrug your shoulders and say, "Oh, it is okay. They didn't mean to slander me. I really don't care!" You can be sure that you would call the newspaper and you would hire a lawyer - and you would be right to do so.

So, we can see that our names are important to us. We don't like for our names to be misspelled, misused or left out entirely. My friend, God's name is far more important than mine or yours. We must understand how critical this is.

I was playing golf with two men one day and one of them took God's name in vain. I was some distance away, on the other side of the green, but I could hear it. The other man was close by the man who cursed, and so he said, "I ask you not to take my Lord's name in vain. If you wish to curse someone, use your mother's name." The man who blasphemed God's name seemed offended. My friend said, "See, you don't even want your mother's name mentioned in the wrong way, but my God's name is more important by far." Thank God for a strong Christian who stood up for the name of the Lord.

Some people call other people names when they can't deal with the argument they present. Somewhere I read that a man named Elbert Hubbard said, "If you can't answer a man's arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names." I believe that is why some people use God's name in vain. They can't argue with the Truth, and He is the Truth. So, they just use His name in vain in an attempt to lessen His importance. Try as they might, however, they can never truly diminish his nature. He is God - He is Lord - He is what He is and always will be. Still, He doesn't wish for His name to misused and abused. His name is attached to His person - just like our names are attached to our person. When someone smears your name, that someone has actually smeared YOU. When you use God's name in vain, you are - whether you realize it or not - demeaning the person of God. I can tell you, it is not a good idea to besmirch the name of someone who has the power of life and death over you - especially when He has warned you clearly not to do so!

Just this week I saw a young man on death row in a Texas prison released from incarceration when new evidence revealed he had not raped and killed a woman a few years ago. He was asked on a news program what he thought and how he had felt while he had been in prison for a crime he had not committed. He said, "I just kept telling my mother to clear my name. I told her to do that even if they put me to death. I just wanted my name cleared."

Actually, a human name does not necessarily carry with it the a reflection of the character of the individual. Shakespeare said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. He was right. A name does not necessarily identify a person's character. I read some time ago of a man in Europe who requested that his new son be given the names of all twelve of the Apostles. The clerk discouraged the request, pointing out that the boy would have trouble all his life with forms, signatures and mail. The father insisted, so the boy was given all twelve names of the Apostles. Be assured of this, that the names of all the twelve apostles as your official name would not guarantee you a good character. Your name could be Washington or Lincoln and you could still be a liar. Your name could be York or McCain and you still could be a coward. Your name could be Tennyson or Frost and you could still be illiterate.

God's name, however, carries with it all that He is and all that He does. In fact, the prohibition against taking the name of God in vain means far more than simply using his name in profanity, though it includes that as well. Today we are going to see how it is possible that many of us are committing the sin of taking God's name in vain without being fully aware of it. It is a serious matter and everyone one of us should treat this subject with care. Look at this text with me under four headings.

I. Using The Name Of God In Profanity

Even though taking God's name in vain means more than profanity, it certainly does include it. Using God's name in profanity is nothing new. In fact, the mere presence of this commandment written thousands of years ago reveals that man has always had a weakness for disrespecting the name of his Creator. There would have been no need for this commandment, if it weren't for the fact that people misused God's name during those days.

Cursing, using the name of God in vain, was a problem during the days of George Washington. He once said, "The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it." Perhaps it was true in Washington's day, but I'm not sure many people despise it in the era in which we now live. Sadly, as with everything in nature, man is not evolving, he is devolving!

This issue is no less a problem today. In fact, and I add this with much sadness, there has probably never been a time when God's name was more disregarded and defamed than it is in our day. USA Today watched a week of Prime-Time network television some time ago and noted that the word "hell was used 56 times, God's name was misused 49 times" and other curse words were used frequently. Take note that this was observed on prime-time, commercial television. Folks, that was over ten years ago! It is much worse now than then.

Imagine for a moment how many times God's name is used in cursing and profanity on the movie screens of America. Movies are shown in thousands of U.S. cities each day. God's name is profaned in many of them numerous times in various movies. People sit by the millions in the period of a week of movie-going and watch, often with laughter, as God's name is dragged through the mud and mire of Hollywood filth. Think of it, God's name is broadcast in a vile manner to audiences millions of times in any given week. How long do you think God will allow this before He has had enough? Be sure you read this third commandment carefully. Note that it states that God will not hold him guiltless who commits this sin. There is a verse in Ezekiel that goes unnoticed by most people, even dedicated Christians. God told Ezekiel to take note of something regarding the divine nature. We read in Ezekiel 6:10, "Then they will know that I am the LORD; I have not said in vain that I would inflict this disaster on them. (NASV)” The Lord was reminding us that He never speaks in vain of coming judgment and disaster for sin. One may think that his use of God's name is vain is unimportant, but God's statement of judgment regarding this matter was not stated in vain. He will keep His word. As I stated earlier in this message, never take in vain the name of the person who has the power of life and death over you.

But I want us to bring this home to each individual heart. You need to know that your speech reveals your character. In Matthew 12:34 we read that Jesus said, "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." An old saying back home used to be, "What's in the well comes up in the bucket." This simply means that you call tell what a man is by what he says and does. Socrates said, upon meeting a man, "Speak, that I may see you." Our speech reveals our character.

This is particularly true in our relationship to God. Show me how you use the name of God and I will tell you some things about your nature. "The sin of profanity reveals an empty head and a wicked heart." It is a sin that God will surely judge, for God says that He will not hold him guiltless who commits this sin. What does such a sin reveal about a person?

A. It Reveals A Deviance

To take God's name in vain is to violate a direct command of God. You are in rebellion against the Lord of glory when you do this!

Someone once said, "If you spoke German, I would assume you were from Germany. If you spoke French, I would assume you were from France. If you spoke Russian, I would assume you were from Russia. If you speak profanity, I will assume you are from your father, the devil." And, if you take God's name in vain, I assume you hate God!

B. It Reveals A Disrespect

A person who uses God's name in vain is tossing the name of God in the muck and mire. He is taking the name of the one in whom we are to be saved and using it like a piece of trash. If he is questioned about it, he may well say, "Oh, I didn't mean anything by it." If that is the answer, I can assure you that God's name is meaningless to him!

In court rooms across our country, libel suits take place each month. People go to court to seek a judgment against people for misusing their names. One's name is so important that the law recognizes the abuse of one's name as a crime. How much more disrespectful it is to misuse God's holy name!

C. It Reveals A Depravity

Sam Jones used to say, "When I hear a man curse and swear, I lay hold of my pocketbook, for any man who will swear may steal also." Seriously, if someone blatantly curses using God's name, would you trust that person in a place of leadership in your business, or with your children when you are not present? Taking God's name in vain is a sign of depravity in a person.

When the Nixon tapes were released some years ago, Americans were aghast when hearing or reading the transcripts of the way He used God's name. But, why would you be so shocked? If a president is found to be guilty of lying and abusing the power of his office, can you trust Him in any issues related to God? It is something we must keep in mind with our political leaders today!

D. It Reveals A Deficiency

Profanity is the attempt of a feeble man to express himself forcefully. It shows a weak mind and a corrupt heart! It reveals a lack of ability to express one's self in an intelligent manner.

Just think about it, what does a man get when he curses God? If he steals, he gets what he steals, even if it is eventually at great price. If he commits adultery, he satiates his lust, even if he is reaping judgment on his life. When he murders, he gets revenge, if only for a moment. When he curses, what does he get? Nothing - well, he does get the assure of the judgment of God!

Jesus taught His disciples to pray. The very beginning of that "Model Prayer" states, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." Indeed, His name is hallowed and ought to be treated in a holy manner.

II. Using The Name Of God In Perjury

Perjury means to state something as a fact, with God as your witness, when in fact your statement is untrue. We are all familiar with this in court. But every Christian should be aware that as a believer you are always under oath! You represent Christ in this earth. You do not have to swear on a Bible in order to feel the necessity to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! You take God's name in vain when you speak lies. You must be sure you are telling the truth about people when you speak about them. You must be sure your facts are straight. You must also speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)!

I once had a wise professor named Thurman Lewis, who taught me Greek and Hebrew in college. He was truly a wonderful man. One day in class, he said to those of us studying Hebrew, that all Christians should determine three things regarding their conversations:

First, they should ask, "Should I speak at all?" Sometimes, and often, it is wise to simply remain silent.

Secondly, "If I speak, I must speak the truth." Speaking requires truth from the tongue of a Christian. If I can't tell the truth, I should refrain from speaking at all.

Thirdly, "Even if I know that what I am about to say is the truth, and I know that it must be said, I am still required to speak that truth in love." If I can't say it in love, I don't need to say it at all!

Our speech should be salted with grace. We read in Colossians 4:6, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

III. Using The Name Of God In Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is the act of saying something to impress someone but not really believing it. When we speak of Biblical matters, spiritual matters and divine matters, we must not be hypocrites. Jesus was very disturbed by this sin in the lives of many so-called religious people of His day. In Luke 12:1 we read, "Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: 'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.'" You can commit hypocrisy in four ways.

A. Vain Professions

Professing something to be true in your life, when it is not true, is hypocrisy.

B. Vain Prayers

Matthew 6:7 tells us that we are not to pray vain, empty, hypocritical prayers. Prayer must come from the heart. Repetitive words for the sake of their sound is not really prayer; it is a performance.

C. Vain Praises

When we sing, but not with our hearts, we are committing hypocrisy!

We sing, "Have thine own way, Lord," but plan all along to go our own way, we are hypocrites and take God's name in vain.

We sing, "My Jesus I love thee, I know thou art mine, for thee all the follies of sin I resign," but know we will go on sinning, we are taking God's name in vain!

We sing, "Nearer my God to thee," but know full well that we are walking far from Him, we are hypocrites and we are taking God's name in vain.

We sing "Standing on the Promises" while we are merely sitting on the premises - well, you get the idea!

Maybe that is why so many people don't like the hymns anymore - they remind them too often of the hypocrisy of singing the words!

If the words of a praise chorus, or hymn convict you, don't just mumble through them - change your life! If you are going to sing, "Have thine on way, Lord," then let Him have His way.

D. Vain Practice

When the Bible says we must not take the name of God in vain, that is exactly what it means. You must think about that for a moment. To take something is to bear it. I take this coat I am wearing and I bear the weight of it and the look of it on my person. If I take the name of Christ as the designation of my salvation, then I must live correctly. Not to do so is to take the name of the Lord in vain!  Part of my testimony is my life - the way I live. It is a double sin for me to bear the name "Christian" and to live unlike a Christian. I am taking the name of Christ in vain if I do that.

So many Christians say, "I don't talk about Jesus to anyone; my life is my witness." No wonder we are not winning people to Jesus. Look at our lives! So many of us are bearing His name in vain.

Let's consider the correct way to use God's name:

IV. Using The Name Of God In Victory

A. There Is The Victory Of Redemption In The Right Use Of His Name

"Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." Acts 4:12 states, "There is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved." Romans 10:13 reads, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Why must you call on His name? Because there are so many false gods! To ensure that you are calling upon the only, true Lord, you must call upon Jesus! Salvation is in His name.

Someone here today needs to call upon the name of the Lord and ask Him to save you. I am going to tell you who that is. Are you ready? I am about to call name of the person who needs to get saved by calling on the name of the Lord in this very service - so get ready. Your name is "whosoever." That means any person here today who has not trusted in Christ for your salvation. If you are trusting in your good works, you are trusting in the wrong name. You can't get saved using YOUR name or your works. Salvation is not available in any name other than the name of Jesus. Anyone here who is trusting in your church membership to save you needs to call upon the name of the only ONE who can save you - the name of Jesus. The only victory over sin that is available is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is salvation victory in that name!

B. There Is The Victory Of Relationship In The Right Use Of His Name

Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven." It is not the mention of His name, but the fact that you have a relationship with Him that really matters. You see, when you call upon the Lord, you are speaking to Him directly. He is present and He is ready to begin an eternal relationship with any and all who will trust Him. The name of the Lord is not a magic wand, a talisman or a rabbit's foot. He is God. He is Lord. He is Savior. And, when you trust Him, He comes into your life and begins a loving, leading, light-filled relationship with you forever! Call upon His name - call upon Him personally - He is listening for your voice.

C. There Is The Victory Of Rejoicing In The Right Use Of His Name

We serve through the power of that name! Whatever we do in word or deed, we are to do in the name of Jesus!

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower,

The righteous run into it and are safe."

The believer can sing,

"Precious Name, oh how sweet,

Hope of earth and joy of heaven!"

We join in worship to praise His name, to honor His name and to rejoice again in the safety we have in His name. "Oh how sweet!" Yes, the name of Jesus is sweet to the heart and soul of the child of God.

Let us not be guilty of misusing His name - not in our words or deeds! It is in His name that we are saved and delivered. It was Jesus who died for us at Calvary. It is Jesus who rose for our justification. It is Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us every hour and every day. Let us never be guilty of flippantly using His name or unfaithfully living our lives!


A man was dying. His family was told by the lawyers that his signature on a particular piece of paper before he died would save a great deal of legal work. His family went to him and gently and lovingly explained that they needed him to sign that very important document. He lifted the pen and signed. They carried the document to the attorney, but were stunned when he revealed what the dying man had written on the paper. He had written the only name that meant anything to him in that dying moment. He had written the name, "JESUS!"

"Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing, Blessed be the name of the Lord."

"Glory to His name."

"Glorious is thy name, O Lord."

"Jesus is the sweetest name I know. "

Is His name the sweetest name you know? Do you misuse His name at times. Do you live in a way that always reflects your spiritual family name. When I was young, my dad used to say, "Son, remember who you are. Remember that everything you do reflects on your family." Well, double that for the family name we have in belonging to the Father through the Son.

Someone here today has never accepted Jesus, but you can do so today. There is victory in His name. There is power in His name. There is salvation in His name. Call upon Him now, turn from you sin, and accept Him as Savior and Lord.

Then, let everyone of us who belongs to the Lord look deeply into our hearts today with this question: Do I in anyway dishonor His name? If we are honest, there will be some decisions for renewal during this invitation.