Big Idea: We can love God well by holding His name in reverence and honor. As we love God more deeply, we will avoid any expression of disregard or disrespect for His name. As Christians, we must actively resist a cultural current pulling us away from holding God’s name in high esteem, as we are careful to faithfully convey His words and obey His commands.
I. Defining the problem
A. Defining taking God’s name in vain
B. The Name of the Lord:
1. Blasphemy and profaning the name of the Lord seem to be the same thing as taking the name of the Lord in vain. (Leviticus 18:21, 19:12, 21:6, 22:2,32, 24:16;
Proverbs 30:9, Ezekiel 20:39, 36:22,23, 39:7,25)
2. Speaking on one’s own authority that contradicts God’s message. (Zechariah 13:3;
Jeremiah 8:8, 14:14, 23:25-26, 32, 29:9; 5:31)
3. The opposite is speaking under God’s authority. (Deuteronomy 18:22; I Chronicles 22:19; II Chronicles 18:15;
4. Calling upon the name of the Lord is a picture of salvation. (Zephaniah 3:9, 12; Acts 9:28-15:26, 19:13;
Romans 10:13; I Corinthians 6:11)
C. Continuum of responses
II. What does this look like?
A. Our culture is moving from reverence to disregard.
B. A timeless expression of taking God’s name in vain is selling out the truth for a popular lie.
(Jeremiah 5:31; II Timothy 4:1-4)
1. Example: Doctrine of hell
2. Example: God’s definition of marriage
III. Call to action
A. Honor the Lord whenever you can.
B. Recognize and resist the cultural currents pulling us away from reverence.
C. Examine your life and doctrine closely for signs of selling out.
D. Faithfully fulfill any mission God has given you. Blessed is he or she who comes in the name of the Lord. Where is God sending you in the name of the Lord? Give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.
1) When you were growing up, how did you understand the command against taking the name of the Lord in vain? Was that basically synonymous with cursing? Did you ever hear a clear explanation of what that really means? If so, what was that?
2) Why do you suppose films and expressions of popular culture take the name of Jesus in vain? Do you hear this with any other religion or religious leaders? Have you ever heard the name of another religion take in vain? Why or why not? What could explain this phenomenon?
3) Should the American government show preference for expressing reverence for one religious group over another? Why or why not?
4) What do you think would happen if Allah’s name was regularly blasphemed in American film and popular culture? What would be the Islamic response? Can you think of examples of this?
5) Have you thought of taking the name of the Lord in vain as a continuum? When does disregard turn into disrespect? Is it possible for a Christian to take the name of the Lord in vain without ever having spoken God’s name? Why or why not? Do you have to speak a name of God to dishonor Him?
6) Why would God call lying in His name taking His name in vain? Have you heard Christians use the Lord’s name to market sin? Does it make sense to you that God would connect His name to His word?
7) What does it mean to give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name? Does that mean you have to actually say those words – i.e., pronounce over the water you are giving in Jesus’ name? Or does it refer to the motivation of the giver? Can someone do something in Jesus’ name if they don’t believe in the biblical Jesus?
8) Have you ever thought about taking the name of the Lord in vain being connected to selling out to unpopular Christian teaching? When false teachers lie in Christ’s name, is this an example of taking the name of the Lord in vain? Is the phrase “in Jesus’ name” magical in the sense that it makes all statements true?
9) Have you ever had a clear sense that God sent you somewhere to do something? Please share. What does it mean to “come in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13)? Where could you go in the name of the Lord?