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“Why We Believe You Must Keep Your Promises” (Exodus 20:7)

We’ve been looking at what it means

To live a life completely consecrated to God.

That’s what the Lord calls you to do

If you are a Christian,

If you’ve been saved by His grace.

Certainly, it’s all you can do

If you’ve experienced the love of God.

We saw first that you must love Him

With your whole being – with all you have to love.

Nothing must even be a close second –

Not your spouse, your children,

Your job, your possessions.

We need to take this very seriously

Because if our hearts aren’t devoted to the Lord alone

We won’t be able to give Him our lives,

Nor will we be able to love others

The way He command us.

Secondly, loving Him most of all,

You are to show Him that love

By committing yourself to His glory –

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To live as He would have you to live.

Your whole life is to be a continual act of worship to God.

But if you are to do this

In a way that He will accept,

You must do it as He commands –

Both narrowly in your private and public worship,

And more broadly in the way you live.

If I may summarize it this way:

You are to live as Jesus would

If He were in your place.

He didn’t seek His own pleasure,

But the pleasure of the One who sent Him.

This principle lays the groundwork

For everything that follows.

The rest of the commandments

Spell out in more detail

Just how to live to give Him pleasure.

And remember, if you love Him

As much as He calls you to love Him,

The way you can love Him

Only if you have His Spirit,

Nothing will give you greater pleasure

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Than giving Him pleasure.

As the psalmist writes, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73: 25-26).

This evening, let’s consider

That one of the things that gives Him pleasure

Is when we use His name reverently.

The third commandment says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Ex. 20:7).

I want us to look at three things:

First, we are not to use His name as a common swear word or to blaspheme Him.

Second, we are to be careful to do what we say – to keep all the promises we make.

Finally, what the Lord says He will do to those who don’t keep this commandment.

A. First, if you are to live completely consecrated to God, you must use the Lord’s name respectfully.

1. Perhaps the best way to understand how to us it

Is by understanding how we shouldn’t.

We misuse His name

When we don’t use it respectfully,

Such as using it as a common swear word

Or worse, if we blaspheme Him.

The word “vain” means emptiness, nothingness or vanity.

Bunyan calls the town that Christian and Faithful will eventually reach,

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Where Faithful will die for his testimony of Jesus Christ, Vanity Faire.

That town represents the empty and useless things

That are in this world,

All of which will do you no good,

Perhaps a great deal of harm,

And which will all be burned up at the last day.

When it’s applied to His name it means

To take it lightly or to use it for some worthless or empty reason.

God’s name should always be used

With the greatest reverence and love.

When you use His name,

You are talking about Him,

You are bringing Him into what you’re saying.

The same is true when you use anyone else’s name –

Dick, Greg, Jerry, Shirley or Denise’s –

You’re not just referring to a name,

You’re referring to them.

When you use God’s name,

For whatever reason,

You’re bringing God into the equation;

And when you bring God into it,

You should always do so

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With the greatest respect.

This applies to any of His names –

Those that apply to any of the three Persons

Including God, Father, Jesus, and Christ.

2. How should you not use God’s names?

First, you should not use them

As exclamations

When you get angry.

To do so is to use His name in vain.

Think about what you’re doing when you do this:

You’re using His name only to satisfy your anger.

That’s why most swear words are used –

To consummate your anger towards something

Or your desire for revenge toward someone:

To hurt someone because of something

They’ve done to you – or at least think you have.

When you use God’s name to do this

You’re not using it reverently;

You’re not respecting and loving Him.

You’re using it in vain.

If it’s wrong to use His name in this way,

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It’s also wrong to listen to it used this way.

If you love the Lord

It should offend you that it is,

And you should do what you can

To help others honor Him.

There are some unbelievers

Who might fear God enough

To listen to you, if you try to help them do this.

If someone has an arrogant or angry spirit

It may be better just to pray for them.

3. But there’s another way

His name can be used in vain,

And that’s when He’s blasphemed.

This is when you direct your anger against Him,

When you say something that isn’t true of Him,

Especially if you say something evil about Him.

Jesus explains this when He speaks of the unpardonable sin:

When the Pharisees accused Him

Of casting out demons by the prince of demons,

Jesus said they had blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy

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Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt.

12:31-32).

To blaspheme the Spirit

Is to attribute something evil to Him –

In this case, to say He is an unclean spirit,

Even while knowing that He must be the Spirit of God.

Of course, no Christian could ever commit this sin.

The love of God in your heart

Would never allow you to reach that point.

The Lord says He won’t forgive this sin

Presumably because the heart

Has to be so hard to do it.

It’s likely that since the Spirit is the One

Who changes the heart,

To continually harden your heart against Him

To the point where you can actually commit this sin

Is to go past the point of no return.

To use God’s name in vain

Means to use it in an empty, meaningless or sinful way.

If you are to live in devotion to God,

You must use His name reverently –

You must always speak to Him and about Him

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With the greatest love and respect.

B. There’s another way it’s possible to take the Lord’s name in vain,

And it’s the main thing He has in view here:

To make a promise or vow to do something and not do it,

Or to swear to the truth or falsity of something

Knowing that it is other than what you say.

Whenever you call God to bear witness

To something that isn’t true,

You have taken His name in vain.

There was a time in our nation

When the fear of the Lord was so strong

That the courts could compel a man to tell the truth

By having him lay his hand on the Bible

And swear in God’s name.

Not to tell the truth

After swearing that oath

Would be to call God’s wrath down on your head.

They don’t do this anymore

Because of the division they’re trying to create

Between the church and state.

Whenever we vow to do something

In God’s name,

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Or take an oath that something is true of false,

We’d better mean it.

If we don’t, we’re breaking this commandment

Offending God, and using His name in vain –

Lifting it up to emptiness.

This actually applies to whatever we promise or affirm.

Jesus reproved the Jews

For their false vows and oaths

Because they made them

Swearing by the gold of the Temple,

Or by the offering on the altar,

Or by heaven,

Thinking that by so doing

They were avoiding swearing in the name of God,

And so weren’t really calling God to witness

And so not really binding themselves to do what they said.

Jesus reminded them that the Temple, the gold,

The offering, the altar, and heaven

Are all connected to God,

And so to swear by them is to swear by God (Matt. 23:16-22).

Everything is connected to Him.

When you make a promise,

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You really can’t avoid having God as your witness.

Which is why Jesus said

That your yes should be yes and your no, no –

Anything beyond this was evil (Matt. 5:37).

You must mean what you say

When you speak.

If you say you’re going to do something,

You need to do it.

If you say something is true or false,

You had better really believe it is.

This is what you must do

If you are to live a life devoted to God.

C. Finally, what does the Lord say He will do if we take His name in vain.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

He will punish you accordingly.

We have a few examples in Scripture

Of what He did to the unrepentant.

Jesus reproved the Pharisees because of their false vows,

Calling them fools, blind guides and hypocrites.

He ends that rebuke with the promise of a curse,

Charging them with the guilt of all the righteous blood

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They and their fathers shed (Matt. 23:35).

The curse was not just for breaking the Third Commandment –

It was much more than that.

But hypocrisy was one of the reasons

God poured His wrath on them.

We already saw what Jesus said was the penalty

For the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:32).

We have another example of a man

Who blasphemed God’s name

And who suffered some serious consequences.

“The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought

him to

might be made clear to them. Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him. You shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “If anyone curses his God, then he will bear his sin. Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death”’” (Lev. 24:11-16).

They put him in custody so that the command of the LORD

The Lord is jealous for His glory.

He will hold those who misuse His name accountable.

If He doesn’t do so directly in this life,

He will in the life to come.

We do need to be thankful, however,

That though we’re all guilty of this

To one degree or another,

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If you have trusted Jesus

And repented of those sins,

The Lord has forgiven you.

Paul blasphemed Christ,

And tried to make Christians do the same (Acts 26:11).

But when he repented,

The Lord had mercy on him and forgave him.

He writes, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:12-14).

You must always remember

That the consequences for any sin are serious.

But none of your sins will condemn you

If you turn from them to Jesus.

On the other hand,

If you will honor the Lord,

By using His name reverently,

By keeping your promises.

He says, He will honor you.

“Those who honor Me I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30).

We spend so much of our lives

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Seeking honor from men.

If you want true and lasting honor,

You should seek that which comes from God.

And so examine your life

To see whether you have been honoring Him

In the keeping of your promises.

If you’re married, are you keeping your marriage vows?

If you’re a member of this church, are you keeping your membership vows?

If you’ve made promises to the Lord

Or to anyone else,

Are you keeping them?

The righteous man “swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Ps. 15:4).

If you have failed in any way –

And again, we all have –

Confess your sins to the Lord,

And purpose in your heart

To do all that you can to honor His name.

May the Lord give us His grace to do so. Amen.

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