Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered DATE by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Loving God's Name

Ex 20:7 Third commandment

We are going to be continuing with our series on the Ten Commandments. I would like for you to focus your attention on the Third of the Ten Commandments. Let's read the Third Commandment. I would like to read it to you. By the way, how do you view the Ten Commandments? Do you think they are negative or positive? Some people think, "Oh, we've got all these old rules and regulations. You know, the Ten Commandments are pretty bad. They're restricting my life." Actually I believe God has in these Commandments the blueprint to happiness. That's what it is. It's tremendous. And here, God is saying that if you want the most out of life, keep the commandments, not to save yourself, but because you are saved.

So, let's look here at the Third Commandment which says in Exodus 20:7 (KJV) "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." We're not supposed to take His name in vain, are we. We are going to examine ten ways we might take the name of God in vain.

1) SWEARING or CURSING.

Point one is that we should not swear. We should not take the Lord's name in vain. I would imagine right here that God would choose something more important for the Third Commandment. Why would He even put swearing in here? I mean, there are a lot of rules in the Bible. Is this one of the top ten that God has for us? Apparently it is. But, why would God choose that? Why is cursing so bad? It's listed up there along with killing and adultery and everything else. Well, let's examine this commandment.

Could you swear if you didn't have the ability to talk? Could you break the Third Commandment if you couldn't talk? Now, I love God's gift of speech, don't you? In all creation only man seems to have this gift. Imagine how difficult it would be to communicate by touching and smelling and feeling and tasting and looking and so forth. It would be pretty tough. But this commandment has to do with talking. Speech is a great tool. But it can be misused.

This Commandment is so important that Jesus even repeated it over here in Matthew 6:9 (KJV) when He said "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name." That's just basically restating the Third Commandment in the positive. Isn't that basically what He is doing? "Hallowed be Thy name." And that's why we have chosen to title this "Loving God's Name." That's a positive. That's what Jesus made of the Third Commandment. How beautiful that Jesus did that. "Hallowed be Thy name." Don't take His name in vain. God's name is very holy and sacred isn't it? Don't take it in vain.

In order to swear effectively a man must refer back to God. Imagine an atheist trying to swear. Imagine an evolutionist trying to swear. An evolutionist might swear in the name of a monkey or in the name of a swamp-dwelling amoeba or a protozoan or whatever.

And yet, every day people swear. And, unfortunately, every day millions of so-called Christians profane God's holy name. And that's unfortunate. Swearing is becoming an extensive problem. Boys think, "Well, you know, this is going to make me more grown up. I'll be more like a man." And men think, "This is going to make me bigger in somebody's sight." And it really doesn't. Are you aware that this Commandment is broken out in the open. Swearers want people to hear what they say. It's intended by the profaner that you would hear those words. When a person commits adultery they try to hide it. When they lust, or when they kill, or whatever they do, they conceal it. But this one is done out in the open. It is an open sin against God. This is an amazing Commandment.

Here in America, swearing just seems to pepper the conversation of so many people. And it's too bad. I suppose if a foreigner came here to America to visit they would think, "You know, this is really a Christian nation. I just hear the name of God all the time. And the name of Jesus." We think nothing of using such names in ordinary speech, do we. In olden days a man wouldn't even swear in the presence of a Lady. He's say, "Oh well, pardon me." But would think nothing of swearing in God's presence. It's kind of strange, isn't it.

2) RESPECTING GOD'S NAME!

That's what we need to do here is respecting the name of God. God's remnant people certainly would avoid using any word that refers to some of the attributes of God's holy character. Have you ever heard anybody say, "Mercy!" What are they saying? That's a character trait of God. Or some other people will mention other of His character traits. They will say, "Goodness Gracious!" What are they saying? Should we do that? Why do we refer to God? Because these are attributes of God Himself. And I think even such expressions as "G-O-S-H" or "G-O-L-L-Y." If you look them up in the dictionary, that's referring to God. And the first syllable of Jesus name, "Jee-sus." We hear that over and over , don't we.

A name is important. It represents who you are. And God's name represents Who He is, and What He is. You can go to the Adventist Book Center, you can go to the Baptist Book Store, you can get a little tag with your name on it, and your name means something. You can use that as a book mark in your Bible. We like our name, don't we? It's important to us.

And we don't name inconsequential things. Do you name every leaf on your tree? Do you name every rose that blossoms in your garden? Every rain drop? We don't name all those inconsequential things. We name big things: buildings, bridges. And God is at the apex of all of that. His name is prime. His name is above all names. And for us to take His name in vain is exceedingly dangerous I would say.

Especially in Bible times parents loved naming their children a name that would reflect the character that person would be. In Jesus day, Jesus renamed some of the people, like Peter. He used to be Simon, didn't he. And Jesus gave him a new name. In Revelation 2:17, we are told that you and I will be given a brand new name when we get to heaven. God likes that. And I imagine that name will reflect our character.

To take the name of a person in vain is a very serious crime. When you hear my name, Don Gettys, I want you to think highly of my name. I don't want you to think badly of it because it represents our reputation. God wants the same thing. God's name depicts His reputation. I think that's why God chose to make this commandment to be among the Ten Commandments. When we misuse His name we actually drag down His character before others. And we don't want to do that. Therefore, profanity becomes the opposite of witnessing.

Imagine that you are standing in court here in Collegedale, Collegedale does have a court now, and that you are brought before the judge and the judge says, "Please put your right hand on the Bible and raise your left hand." And imagine that your promise to "tell the truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you, God." And you have your hand on the Bible. And then in your testimony you lie. What did you just do? You broke the Third Commandment, because you took His name in vain. You just did something that dishonors God. You not only dragged your reputation in the dirt, you dragged God's reputation and His Book in the dirt. So, be careful. This is a very tragic thing.

3) SWEARING DESTROYS THE SWEARER.

Think about that. Something else happens when you swear. When you swear, using God's name, you cheapen yourself. You really do. You shatter your respect for God. You destroy your relationship with God. I can't have a good relationship with my wife if I keep calling her the old battle ax. "Well, here come the old..." We can't do that. And how can we have a good relation ship with God if we are constantly belittling Him through this type of language? It can't happen.

When you misuse God s name in swearing, you are basically doing what those grocery store newspaper tabloids do to movie actors. Those rumormongers degrade famous people. They enjoy doing that. That s how they make their money; casting mud at famous people. And when you swear, you cast mud at God. That's what's going on. And I don't even know why we buy those tabloids. Why do we even feast on such garbage?

And when you stand there and you listen as someone who is talking about their blankity blank car and their blankity blank boss and etc. and etc... If you stay and you keep listening to that, that is cheapening your life, dragging down your God, putting Him on your level. Something good inside you is being destroyed.

And if you one of those who speak those evil things, that's even worse. Look at Colossians in your Bible. Here is a command! There are many other commands in the Bible, but Colossians 3:8 has one of these. You must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language... You've got to get rid of them. You have to do it.

4) SWEARING IS A SYMPTOM.

Swearing is not the problem. Swearing is a symptom of the problem. I think you will agree when you think this through. You may think, "Swearing is the problem. Because where I work, these are 'good old boys' that work here. You know, they don't mean anything by this. It's just kind of the way they were raised. They don't mean anything by swearing. In their heart, they really do love the Lord. They're in church on the weekend! They love the Lord. What comes out of their mouth is far from what I know is in their hearts." I would say that you're wrong. You are wrong! Because the Bible always connects what comes out of the mouth with what s in the heart. You just can't read it any other way in the Bible.

Luke 6:45 NEB. "...The words that the mouth utters come from the overflowing of the heart." That's where it comes from. Proverbs 4:23. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Where do these words come from? They come from the heart. You may say, "It's not in his heart." Well, that's what God says. So, let's be careful here. Don't tell me that your friend has a bad problem with swear words but their heart is okay. Don't tell me that, because that is not what the Bible says. If ungodly words pour out of a person's mouth it is a sure sign that there is a horrible problem in their heart.

5)- DON'T LISTEN TO SWEARING.

I don't think we should listen to swearing. Now, sometimes we can't help it, I suppose. But time is getting short. Wouldn't you agree that we're getting near the end of the world? If that is the case, and I believe it is, then very soon, maybe in a few months or a few years, I don't know when. Ten years? Fifty years? Two weeks? Tomorrow? I don't know when He's coming. Nobody knows. But, it's soon! And soon, we're going to be in heaven. We are going to be in the companionship of holy angels who bow down when they hear God's name spoken. Don't you think it time for us to have respect for God's name? And to be building that respect into our lives? I do! And so how can a Christian go and rent a video (now you're stepping on toes, pastor). How can a Christian go down to the video store, rent a video where God's name is taken in vain over and over again? How can we sit there and enjoy it? Is that right for us to do that? How can a Christian listen to music that drags God down? How can we go to a movie where God's name is taken in vain over and over again? And still call ourselves a man after God's own heart? We've got to think about that.

You may think that a periodic flow of swear words through your brain is not affecting your spiritual life but how often do we harvest in the same season that we plant? Well, we don't. The harvest always come later. When you open your ears to listen to obnoxious swear words you allow these evil seeds to be planted in your heart and they will eventually produce a bad harvest in your life.

Does the Bible say that we should not listen to swear words? I struggled this week to find a text and I could not find a text that had anything to do with that. And I told my church secretary, the fill-in secretary this week, Linda Lechler was filling in, and I said, "Linda, is there any text?" And she said, "I don't know." So she went home and did some research. You know, pastor's have to have help. And look at 1 Timothy. I want you to come over here to 1 Timothy in you Bible. 1 Timothy 6. This is really something. Scripture is very clear about listening to vile godless words. We are not only not to say them, we are not to listen to them either. I Timothy 6:20. Turn away from godless chatter. That's it isn't it. "Turn away from godless chatter." KJV says ...avoiding profane babbling... We must avoid listening to profane speech. Don't listen to it, the Bible says. Stay away from it. "Turn away from profane speech." We have no idea what the outcome of listening to that type of speech really does to our hearts. And when you sit there and watch those videos, those TV programs that are filled with dozens of expletives, obnoxious ones, even the three monkeys ought to instruct us to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. That really ought to be our policy. Because, eventually it will drag you down and destroy something noble inside you.

6) REVERENCE THE BIBLE.

I believe that the Third Commandment also is telling us to reverence the Bible. You may say, "Well, pastor, how do you get that out of there. It only says, 'Don't take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.'" Well, I was reading in Psalm 1138 in my Bible, and verse 2 kind of jumped out at me. Psalm 138:2 KJV makes this statement about God's word, about God's name. It says, ...for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name. So if the Third Commandment says, "Don't take His name in vain," then certainly His name would be magnified above His name, then we certainly should reverence His word, shouldn't we? When I see some folks reading their Bibles, it just gives me courage. I just love to see people reading their Bibles. One of our kids came in this morning and said, "I'm in the book of Micah. I've started in Genesis 1:1, and I'm all the way up through Micah." I said, "That's exciting!" And Paul Seifert's father said, "Are you aware of what I've been doing?" "No, what have you been doing?" He said, "I've read the Bible through from cover to cover twice so far this year." This year! Ah, that just gives me courage. You know, we need to reverence the Bible. We need to magnify the Word in our lives.

7) YOUR PERSONAL INFLUENCE.

I believe the Third Commandment talks about our personal influence. I want you to just think about the words of the Third Commandment. "Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord in vain." Don't take His name in vain. These two girls that joined our church this morning took upon themselves the name of Seventh-day Adventist Christians. They are Christians. When you join yourself to the Lord, when you are baptized, you become an official Christian. Don't take that name in vain. I'm sort of twisting this to another meaning here. This is the actual meaning of this translation. Don't take the name of Christian in vain. Don't take God's name in vain.

Think about this. When you become a Christian...Let's suppose that I'm baptized and my car breaks down and I take it to the garage. I get it fixed and they say, "Well, that will be a hundred and sixty five dollars." "Well, I don't have the money right now. I'll pay you though. I'll bring it in this afternoon." I don't come in this afternoon. Finally I don't get my car fixed there anymore, I go to some other garage. Then I'll repeat this and eventually people will see me coming and they're going to say, "You know, here comes one of those so-called- Christians." One of the biggest walking hypocrites in the world are some of these Christians that don't pay their bills. Christians ought to pay their bills. You shouldn't take the name in vain. When you take the name of Christian you ought to live up to what it means to be a Christian. Don't be a stumbling block. You understand what I'm saying.

There was a blind man. It was dark, it was evening, and he was sitting there on the sidewalk and this blind man had a lit lantern beside him. He explained, "I don't want people to stumble over me." I don't want people to stumble over me either, so I don't want to take His name in vain. I want to live up to the standards of Jesus Christ in my life.

8) MISUSING GOD'S NAME.

Don't misuse His name. Imagine two basket ball teams in their locker rooms and they are both praying, "Lord, help us to win." Do we make God into a celestial referee? I would think that it would be fine for us to pray, "Help us to play our best today. Help us to do our best and to have a good team spirit." That's where it ought to be. So, let's not misuse His name. Or maybe we are running for a political office somewhere, and so we make sure people will see us in church. We're misusing the Lord's name there. Or we say: "I Swear to God that my check is in the mail." And it's not in the mail. We're misusing His name. Do you see how we misuse God's name? Leviticus 19:12 says that we must not swear falsely by His name. Another way we could misuse His name is putting a bumper sticker on the back of your car saying, "God is my co-pilot," and then we drive like Jehu. See, we can misuse God's name. Some of those Crusaders had the emblem of the cross embroidered on their clothing and on their hats and on their shields and on their flags while they plundered, raped and killed. All in the name of Jesus. They were taking the name of Jesus in vain. They broke the Third Commandment. We don't often think of the Third Commandment as being this wide, but it is. They took His name in vain

9) LOVE HIS NAME.

We need to love His name. We need to love His character. I want the character of Jesus to be my character. I want to love the Lord. The core of the third commandment is that we would love God's name. Psalm 30:4 says, ...praise His holy name. It is holy. God wants us to have a warm spot in our heart for His precious Name. John 20:31 says there is life in His name. We need to love the name of God. We need to respect His name, and honor His name.

Ps 111:9 KJV says, ...Holy and reverend is His name. Whose name is reverend? His. Do Seventh day Adventist pastors go by the name, "reverend?" No we don't. The Bible says, "Holy and reverend is His name," so we go by "Pastor" or "Elder." We never take reverend as our title. Only God is Reverend. We need to reverence His name.

Another way we can reverence Him is by walking softly in His sanctuary. This is His house. If you were in George Bush's Oval Office, would you reverence him? Certainly we should reverence God. This is His house.

Come over here to Revelation 11 in your Bible. Notice Revelation 11:18. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, (This is about the end of the world.) and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name. Isn't that beautiful? God is going to reward those who reverence His name. That's the Third Commandment. That's exactly what this means. Soon Jesus will come and reward those who Reverence His holy name. Let's invite Jesus to take up residence in our hearts. His clean, pure life will soon begin to show in our thoughts, actions and words.

We need pure speech. It would be impossible to swear using pure Japanese because In the Japanese language there are no swear words.

Zephaniah 3:9 KJV says, For then will I turn to the people a pure language... I want to pray for a pure language. Somebody told me that if you speak pure Japanese, you can't swear. Is that true? He said there are no swear words in pure Japanese. When we get to heaven we won't have any swear words either. God wants purity of speech. Profanity is the use of strong words by weak people.

Let's make sure that our words are right. Let's make sure our words are pure. Psalm 12:6 KJV says, The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. That's fairly pure. Let's pray that our words will also be pure words? And how do you get pure words? You get pure words by inviting the pure Jesus into your heart. It's for your heart that the words come. You need Jesus in there. And you get Jesus in your heart and you draw closer to Him and you're going to have pure words.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight Oh Lord. - Psalm 19:14. The closer we get to Jesus the purer our life and words will become.

Hymn of Praise: #229, All Hail the Power of Jesus  Name
Scripture: Matthew 5:33-37
Hymn of Response: #310, I Would Draw Nearer to Jesus

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