First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ October 9, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Take God Seriously!”
Exodus 20:7; Philippians 2:8-11
A local congregation wanted to encourage its members to be mindful to and obey the Third Commandment so they put a board upfront that displayed the message, “Keep using my name in vain, I will make the rush hour longer” … God.” I came to Christ at the age of sixteen during a youth retreat. Although I had heard the gospel several times, was raised by Godly Christian parents, yet something clicked on that day and I knew that I needed to repent and confess my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. In the same retreat, two of my best friends accepted Christ as well.
One of the first obvious changes that occurred in my life was a strong desire to clean up my language. So, the three of us, my two friends and I, decided to hold each other accountable and watch our language so that we can witness to the rest of our group. The deal was whenever we hear one of us using curse words, we would correct him by punching them in the arm whenever they cussed.
We were brand new to the faith and we thought this is how we show that a change has happened in our lives. As we consider the Third Commandment this morning, as you can tell, it is related to our language, but it goes much deeper than using curse or swear words. The Third Commandment calls us to think, speak, and act in ways that are consistent with our profession of faith.
This is part number three in our Fall Sermon Series, The Ten Commandments for Today. The last couple Sundays, we had the chance to reflect on the first two commandments and this morning we get to reflect on the third. The Third Commandment is found in the book of Exodus 20:7, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.” This commandment calls us to take God seriously. Two things I would like to underscore this morning:
First: The Name of God Matters
Names matter to everyone. Names reflect our character. It is for this reason we protect our name from being misrepresented. We do not want a poor reputation to be attached to our name. We take pride in the preservation of our name. In fact, so much about who we are is wrapped up in our name. And, if our own name is such a big deal, then God’s name matters all the more.
In the First Commandment, we are forbidden from worshipping false gods. In the Second Commandment, we are forbidden from worshipping the One true God in a false manner. In the Third Commandment, we are called to honor the name of God.
The Third Commandment comes back to make us mindful again of “who” we worship. The God whom we worship is holy; He is one-of-a kind; He is unique; He is like no other and He ought to be treated as such. Not only in our speech, but in all of our actions. “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.”
The Third Commandment reminds us of our responsibility to treat our God as holy. The spirit of this commandment is seen in the very first petition of the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name.” Speaking of the sacredness of that name, in Philippians 2:10-11 the apostle Paul says that at the name of Jesus “every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This commandment is about taking our faith seriously. It’s about honoring the name that we have been called by. It’s a warning against misusing the name of the Lord. The name of God matters.
Second: How Do we Misuse God’s Name?
But you may ask: How do we misuse or dishonor God’s name today? There are several ways we can misuse the name of God. We can misuse God’s name with our words. When we speak irreverently about God, we misuse God’s name. When we curse, we dishonor God’s name. When we don’t speak truth, we are taking God’s name in vain.
Yet, I think the problem is even deeper than that. We can also misuse God’s name with our actions. Titus 1:16 speaks of those who “claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.” When we call ourselves “Christians” but live an ungodly lifestyle, we misuse God’s name. When we honor God with our lips but not with our hearts, we are misusing His name. If we bear the name “Christian”, how should that influence our daily behavior in the world? When you call yourself a Christian, you carry the reputation of Christ with you wherever you go, you carry the aroma of Christ. If we are not living in a way that brings glory to God, then we carry the name of Christ in vain.
Friends, may we never take the name of the Lord lightly. “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.” God’s name demands our reverence in thought, word, and deed. When Moses asked God about His name in Exodus 3, God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” The name “I am” here is “Yahweh.” In the 6th century BC, the Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh because God’s name was too sacred to be uttered. It was thus replaced vocally in worship by the Hebrew word, “Adonai” which means “Lord.” Church, the more we get to know who our God is and what He has done, the more we glorify, adore, and honor His name. The reality of our redemption fills us with humility and gratitude and ought to drive us to the throne of grace in heartfelt adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; who was, and is, and is to come. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.