September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”—Exodus 20:7 (NIV)
Have you ever watched the film National Treasure? It stars Nicholas Cage, a disgraced historian/treasure hunter who seeks to restore his family’s name by finding a long-hidden treasure. To do so, he must steal the Declaration of Independence. Over the course of the film, you discover how well protected and guarded this document is—everything from bulletproof glass cases, vaults, infrared temperature monitors, cameras, and secret rooms. Why? Because something so important, priceless, and treasured must be protected!
The third commandment states we shouldn’t misuse God’s name. What does this actually mean? We’ll get to that, but first let’s answer the WHY?
Why is this God’s third commandment? Because God’s name is immeasurably precious, eternally priceless, supremely important, and incomparably treasured, and it must be understood and esteemed as such. The name of the Lord must be treated as the Name above all names. It must be guarded in our hearts, minds, and mouths and it must be handled with the utmost respect, care, awe, and reverence. We must have the fear of the Lord in the way we use the name of the Lord!
Okay, so how do we misuse or take the name of the Lord our God in vain? Here are three manners in which we break this commandment:
John Gill tells us we are to never use His name “without any show of reverence of him, and affection to him . . . The name of God ought never to be mentioned but in a grave and serious manner, and with an awe of the greatness of his majesty upon the mind.”
Now, consider how seriously the Israelites took this commandment. As David Guzik points out, “Some went to extreme lengths in attempting to fulfill this command, refusing to even write out the name of God, in the fear that the paper might be destroyed and the name of God be written in vain.”
Sadly, even in the Church today, we have such a casual attitude toward the name of the Father and the name of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ—we use it flippantly, we use it to convey emotion or surprise, we even let it slide in movies and shows when we hear it used as a curse word in anger. Friends, may we put an end to this practice and remember whose name we’re invoking! Not our co-pilot or homie, but our Almighty Lord, our Creator, our Savior, the King of the universe, the Judge, the Warrior, our heavenly Father. May we approach His name with awe, devotion, respect, honor, and reverence because He is worthy of it all!
Pause: What does it mean to misuse the name of the Lord? Why do so many people struggle with this?
Practice: Think about your life, your mouth, your mind, and your heart as it practically pertains to the name of the Lord. How do you view it? How you use it is a good indicator. Consider how you may grow in your reverence for His name today and every day.
Pray: Father, King, El Shaddai, Elohim, Yahweh, Lord, Christ Almighty, I worship and glorify Your mighty, holy, powerful, inexpressibly beautiful name today. May I view Your name as more precious and valuable and worthy of honor than all the jewels and treasures You placed on this earth. May I treat it with greater reverence than I do anything else in existence. May I remember the power that comes with invoking Your name and use it as You command. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.