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God's Boundaries for Abundant Living - Never Abuse My Name, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
July 7, 2023 6:00 am

God's Boundaries for Abundant Living - Never Abuse My Name, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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July 7, 2023 6:00 am

Who is the most precious and important person in your life? A child, a spouse, parent - have you got it? Now, imagine someone dragging the name of that person through the mud - untrue statements, unfair criticism, crude, off-color jokes. How would that make you feel? Ever wonder how God must feel when we misuse His name? In this message, Chip takes a candid look at why taking the Lord’s name in vain is such serious business with God.


Who is the most precious person in your life?

I mean the person who makes your heart light up. Now imagine that person being the butt of jokes, crude comments, slander, people saying untrue things, and they're saying them right in your presence and putting it in your face. How would it make you feel? Today, we'll take a candid look at why taking the Lord's name in vain is such serious business to God.

Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. We are a discipleship-driven ministry on a mission to encourage Christians everywhere to live like Christians. Now you may be asking yourself, what does it mean to take the Lord's name in vain? Well today as Chip picks up in our series, God's Boundaries for Abundant Living, he'll unpack that phrase and explain why honoring God's name is such a big deal. Well there's a lot of content to get to, so here's Chip with his talk, Never Abuse My Name, from Exodus chapter 20 verse 7. You notice on the teaching handout it says a study in contrast, then and now.

Now what I want to do is I want to give you a picture of something that was commonplace. A Levite was a man between the ages of 20 and 50. He had to be out of the line of Aaron, the priesthood, and that was the section of the Levites that did the important ministry or priestly work. One of the jobs of some of the Levites was to transcribe the text of the Torah. I want you to picture, as you can imagine, a man somewhere between 20 and 50 at 50 automatic retirement and his job was to take the written text of the Torah and rewrite on another scroll exactly what was on the scroll that was given him. And the accuracy had to be this level of integrity is once he was done with his day's work, an older Levite would come with a pen and count over so many letters, maybe 25 letters, count down 17 letters, and he would put his pen on a letter. And if the letter in this scroll did not match the letter of that scroll, they would tear it up and start over.

The integrity and the margin for error was zero tolerance. But something else also happened. As a Levite would be, and if you can imagine in your mind's eye the meticulous copying of the text, you know, Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, and then he would get to, let's pretend he's actually doing Exodus chapter 20. And when he got to the word Yahweh, in fact, he would never pronounce it. It was too holy to pronounce. The vowels were not written in, just those four letters, Y-W-H-W-N-R. And when he got to that, he would stop. And he would go into another room and he would remove his outer garment, he would ceremonially wash, he would put on a clean outer garment, he would come back in, and then he would very carefully write those four letters, Y-W-H-W, in Hebrew. And then he would take the utensil that he wrote the holy name, which is too holy to pronounce, and he would destroy it. He would go into another room, take the robe off, the outer robe, when he wrote that name, set it aside, ceremonially cleanse himself again, put on a new robe, and then come back and begin to rewrite the text again. And you know what he did the next time he came to the word Yahweh or Jehovah? Exactly the same thing. The name of God was holy.

And what I want to talk about is how different that is, their mindset and the reasoning then versus today. Now by contrast, let's just imagine that you walked into a business office, an insurance agency, someone doing a few sales calls, just any normal business office, and it's a Tuesday and things are kind of busy and it's one of those open-ended places where there's a lot of desk and a lot of people on the phone and it's easy to overhear and there's a real dynamic and a guy in the corner has made a call and he's having a real problem because the production people aren't getting things out. And he says something like, what do you mean there's a problem? They ordered that last week. For Jesus Christ's sake, get it out.

What's the problem here? My God, can't anybody do anything right there? Would that be pretty common in our day?

Yeah, I think so. Or let's take it from there and there's four guys on a couch and they're not doing a commercial and they're not necessarily even drinking Bud Light but they're watching a big ball game and it's the final four. And it's in the final four and it's in the last game and a guy breaks away and the score is tied. He goes up. He can leap out of this world. There's a little tiny guard and I actually saw this happen. The guy spreads his legs jumps over him and slams it down and every guy on the couch goes, oh my God, what a dunk, what a slam. Can you believe that? For Jesus' sake, the guy can fly.

Isn't that normal? See the way the ancient Hebrews viewed the name of God and how it was used and the way the average American, the way the average person on this earth and in fact the way the average even born again believer views God's name and what it means is night and day. And this third command is a bit radical.

The two scenes I've painted are a study in contrast. The one is extreme reverence, going well beyond anything God commanded. There's no commands about never ever speaking his name that I have in scripture. And the other extreme in reverence, demonstrating total disregard for the name of God. And the questions I want to ask and answer as we look at those two extremes is why are we to treat God's name with such holiness? What does it mean to take the Lord's name in vain?

What's behind this command? I mean I didn't grow up in the church. I mean when I first read this and did the research part of me said, you know, what's the big deal? I mean does it really, you call him this or say that word or that word? I mean is there really that much behind it? What difference does it really make and candidly why is God so adamant about this?

As we study this you're going to find that this isn't one of those, this is black and white. I mean we're on the Ten Commandments and this is in the top three. The command is you shall not misuse or the word for misuse is literally take up in vain the name of the Lord your God. That word misuse literally means to carry or to bear or to lift up. It's used elsewhere in scripture someone would lift up a song or lift up a poem. It means to verbalize one's allegiance. It's the taking of a name, the verbalizing of a name. It's lifting or carrying something on your lips. And then the word here for vain means with no purpose, void, empty or with evil intent.

So understanding the what is really not very difficult. Don't bring to your lips, take upon your lips the name of God in such a way where it has no purpose, no intent, never do it with any evil intent but it always has to have meaning. You have to be thinking about who that you're talking about and we'll learn why in just a minute.

That's the command. The consequences are for the Lord will not leave him unpunished or hold him guiltless who misuses or takes his name in vain. And as we look at this then let's dig in a little bit and see if we can't figure out what's in a name.

I mean why is this command so heavy? Name is synonymous with one's character, reputation and authority. We don't tend to think of it that way but in scriptural times, ancient times, names were very, very important. Abram, when God did a great work, changed his name to what?

Abraham. Sarai, you know God was doing something in her life, her name changed to Sarah. We had Saul who was the murderer and his name was changed to Paul. Now you have multiple times in scripture when God was going to talk about what was going to occur in a person's life and Peter used to be Simon and upon this rock, names are very, very important because names are synonymous with one's character, reputation and authority.

Names are synonymous with a person's character, a person's reputation and authority. In essence, God's name reveals his essence, who he really is. When the name Yahweh, in fact often what they would do instead of using Yahweh, they would take another name for God, Adonaim, so they wouldn't have to give his covenant name. This is a God who always keeps his promises. When he's making a promise to his people, it's always, I the Lord, in your Bibles, capital L-O-R-D, say this.

And so it's very important. He's not only a covenant keeping promise keeper but it's his redemptive name. When he says the Lord delivered you out of Egypt, the Lord delivered you from the Philistines, the Lord delivered you, the content of his name Yahweh has to do with not only his covenant name but his redemptive name. He's the lover of his people. He's their savior. And the third, it's his personal name. Remember Moses, burning bush?

I am that I am. It's his personal name. It's just not an idea about what he's done but it is personal identity.

I am the ever existing eternal one. And so when the name Yahweh or Jehovah or in our day, Lord or God is used, God's character, reputation and authority, the very essence of who he is. And so to evoke the name of God is to call upon to your remembrance his personhoods, his deeds, his promises and his very presence.

So how important is his name? When Jesus was asked by his disciples, you know we notice that John, you know he prays with his disciples and the Pharisees, boy they've got a pretty rigorous way that they pray. And we notice you are very habitual about getting up early in the morning and getting away and there's an intimacy that you have with God that we've never seen before. Will you teach us to pray? And Jesus in Matthew 6 taught him to pray. And the first thing he said what?

There's a different kind of relationship. When he taught them our Father who is in heaven, the concept of Father was radical. The Hebrews of the day had a very strong sense of God's transcendence and His awesomeness, but not the idea that he could be imminent, that he could be close. And he used the word Abba.

It was the word that small toddler children call upon their mom or dad to climb up into their lap. But then notice right after he said our Father who art in heaven, what's the very first thing he taught him? Hollywood be thy name. Holy is your name. And so he's saying here that his covenant name in essence is we're to take God right in the word seriously. We're to take God very, very seriously.

And that applies not only to God but to Jesus. Jesus' identity and his name was discussed, remember? What shall he be called?

His name will be called Emmanuel. God is with us. The word Jesus means what? Savior or salvation. Jesus made it clear. Remember in John chapter 8, before Abraham was, remember, I am. And he made clear he's the ego Amy. He was taking, he said, I want you to know that your view of the eternal God, the I am that I am, when you've seen me, you've seen the Father.

Remember in the garden when they came and they had swords and clubs and torches? And he said, who are you looking for? And he uses that same phrase.

And when he says that phrase, do you remember what happened? The power of the name, the people fell down. I am he. I am the I am. And so there's real power in the name of God and it's to be taken very seriously. And here's the axiom. Our use of God's name in word, in thought or deed will reflect our view of God and our relationship to him. How you think about God's name, how you use God's name, in word or thought or deed will reflect the view and the relationship you have with him.

And what happens is when we don't have a high view of God, it becomes visible and apparent in how we talk. I have had this experience multiple times with my kids and then I kind of quit because it just got too painful. But I remember one apparent time where I was real tired and came through a big time and so I really wanted to treat our family. So I heard from all my friends or at least from a number of people that this was a good movie. We're going to go see this good movie.

And so it was the days where we couldn't put two quarters against each other so to buy movie tickets and popcorn and the whole deal and we all lined up and sat down. And it started out as kind of a family friendly movie and seemed to have a good plot and seemed like kind of a nice time. But I don't know what it was but early on in this movie, someone started with the GD expression.

GD this, GD that, GD this, GD that. And you know it was kids and family oriented. It was like this feels like a family movie. The music is like a family movie.

It has kind of the Disney feel. But boy early on there's this blank, blank this, blank, blank this. And I sat there and I thought well am I going to weather through this and how much of this am I going to take? And I just had this thought come to me. And I thought who's the most precious person in my life? I mean who's the person whose respect that I would guard, whose reputation I would guard and I thought you know it's my wife or one of my kids. And I thought would I sit in this movie theater if they were saying Teresa damn this, Teresa damn this, Teresa. I call on Teresa to damn and send people to hell and just and then using her word not even just like a slur or a fill in. Man I would get up in front of that theater and say hey I'll tell you what the next guy who says my wife's name like that you know I may lose this battle but I'm going to try and take you out.

I mean wouldn't you man? If someone said that about one of your kids or about your mom or about. And I thought to myself I'm not doing this. And so my kids, this had happened before and I gave them the okay.

We all filed out, burned about seven bucks a person and I'm going and of course it was a teachable moment. And you know what it helped me see? It helped me see that our view of God's name and our sense of what it means and how important it is says a lot about where we're at with him.

And I think what's happened in our culture candidly is we've gotten very casual. And the name of God doesn't mean much to the world and unfortunately the name of God in many ways doesn't mean too much to the church. And I think we're not going you know words matter. Words really matter. There's no way ideas are expressed through words. So words have content. And when the content of a word is devalued and over time gets degraded so that it doesn't mean anything then the concept in your mind and the idea in your mind is you will have a low view of God if we get to the point where we talk about him tritely and casually.

Or are you ready? If you use his name in vain. And so what I want to talk about is in what ways do we use God's name in vain. And by the way you're going to learn that profanity of course is one but probably the most serious in the cultural context this third command was not given primarily with regard to profanity although it's definitely included. The primary application of this is in the taking of oaths. And you'll notice in your notes it says in the taking of oaths that we do not keep write the word perjury.

It's a legal term, perjury. And the historical context you can jot down under that Deuteronomy 6 13 and Deuteronomy 10 20. And both those say fear the Lord your God and take an oath in my name. Again you've got to remember they've come out of this pagan culture. No one told the truth.

There was no sense of right, wrong, this is good, this is bad. And so as God is teaching these people how to live before him one of the things he wants them to learn is to tell the truth. And so if you're in a business deal and you say you're going to do that and he's going to do that well then what you say in the name of the Lord because it is so holy you would never break your vow. And by the time centuries roll on, by the time years and years would happen people would then not use the name of the Lord in an oath. They would say I swear by Jerusalem or I swear by this or I swear by that.

They were looking for legal loopholes. They took the very command of God and tried to use it as a way so that when they didn't tell the truth they'd say well you know I didn't swear by the name of the Lord. So much so that by Matthew chapter 5 about verse 46, remember when Jesus was talking about you have heard it said you know swear by heaven or swear by earth but I say to you let your yes be yes and your no be no. Basically Jesus said let's forget all this oath stuff. The whole point of taking an oath in the name of God was to bring about integrity and you've actually taken the command to build integrity into the life of Israel and used it for a legal loophole so you don't tell the truth.

So he said you know what I want you to do? Just tell the truth all the time. Forget oaths. But when you would say to a person I in the name of God commit to marry that woman or that man.

I in the name of God will pay so much for that field. I in the name of God have a treaty with this group of people that we're at war with. It is unbreakable. On the basis of the name and the integrity of the creator and the deliverer and the redeemer of all the people of Israel. I will never break this oath. So the issue was being a person of your word. And when you would take the name of the Lord and then not keep your promise you were misusing or taking the name of God in vain. Notice Leviticus 19 12. Do not make a promise in my name if you do not intend to keep it. That brings disgrace on my name. I am and then here's his name.

The Lord or Yahweh your God. How many times have you been to a wedding? I've done a lot of them as a pastor. And isn't there a place in the wedding where we say to this couple before God and these witnesses do you take this woman to be your lawful wife?

I do, I do. In sickness and in health and sorrow and right as long as you both shall live. Before God oath and these witnesses. You understand when a couple, now do I understand there are biblical grounds for divorce and there's infidelity and people run off?

Yes. Do I understand that some people are married to unbelievers and 1 Corinthians 7 an unbeliever can abandon a believer and people may find themselves divorced. Well now that we have ten percent of all the divorces in the evangelical community covered what about the other ninety percent? I'm not fulfilled.

This is really hard. I'm not very happy right now. When we as Christians break our vow or our oaths to God we are taking the name of the Lord in vain. And would you mind going back if you don't have it open and look at the very first page where it says we're not to take the name of the Lord in vain and did you notice the consequences there?

For the Lord will not leave him unpunished or hold him guiltless who misuses or takes his name in vain. Any of you business men, business women here ever had a business deal with another Christian? You know they had a little fish on their card or when you got the card there's a little fish on the back of the card and if you had the first round of things where they're a Christian and you're a Christian and since you're both Christians and we probably don't even need to sign anything because your word is gold, you both love God, you're people of integrity. I would just be interested how many people have had one of those experiences with one of those so called Christians, maybe they were, maybe they weren't and you got ripped off?

I did. You know what they did? They took the name of the Lord in vain. They broke their promise.

It was on the basis of your relationship that in my case I've had times where I didn't sign a contract, my lands. This guy loves God, I love God, if I can't trust his word what can I trust and what I learned is I couldn't trust his word. You break an oath. You might jot down Psalm 15 four. Psalm 15 four is talking about the kind of man, the kind of woman that God promises to bless and Psalm 15 opens with a question and it ends with a promise and it opens with a question that says, oh God, oh Lord, who may abide in thy holy tent? Who may dwell with you?

In other words, who can have intimate, wonderful relationship with you and then he goes through a list of things. He walks integrity and speaks truth in his heart, you know, doesn't take a bribe and by verse four one of the evidences of a man or woman that can have intimacy with God, that can dwell in his holy tent, he swears to his own hurt and does not change. See the fact of the matter is there's times you make a promise based on a certain set of circumstances and then the circumstances change, right? And you know what a man of God or a woman of God does? You swear to your own hurt.

I said I would do this. I said I would come and then circumstances change and then a man of integrity comes or you do what you say. You know what I think God does? I think he tests us. I think God brings little tests of integrity. Are you going to keep your word and are you going to keep your word when there's a price and are you going to do it when you don't want to do it? There was a fellow who had a good company out in California actually from the same town where I was but went to another church and he had made a very significant, he made a hundred thousand dollar intention to give and his business just went south. And he just said you know I'm sorry. I know you all need it and I know that all those people around the world are depending on me but I mean I just don't know what to do.

And you know I don't know if I'll, this is really tough. And I don't know, I can't give you the exact timing and since I'm talking about integrity I'll tell you I don't remember rather than say two months later. But it wasn't all that much later. We got a card from him with a check for a hundred thousand dollars. And he said I got up early in the morning and I was reading through Psalms and I got to Psalm 15 four. And I've told God for twenty some years this is your business. And I heard God say to me so do you really believe that or not?

If it's really my business then why don't you keep the commitment that you weighed, swear to your own hurt and watch me take care of you. And he said God provided. He said I'm not going to tell you that everything's over the top. We made it through a time I didn't know we'd make it through. And I said I just got to tell you, I mean obviously the finances were great for people around the world.

I mean it was awesome, thank you. But I said your integrity blew me away. The first way we take the Lord's name in vain is when we don't keep our oaths.

Question, this is not intellectual exercise. Any relationship, any commitment you've made that you have not kept your oath. That when you walk out that door what you need to do is you need to pull out a pen and you need to make a little personal note to yourself.

I need to go back and make it right with Bob or Mary. Or I need to make a phone call before I leave here. Or I need to jot a note to myself and make a commitment that when I get back I'm going to call a breakfast meeting with so and so and I'm going to own my part and I'm going to deal with this. You know what, you're a human being you're going to break your oaths. You're going to take the Lord's name in vain.

I have, I will. But what's God want us to do? He wants us to make it right.

He wants us to deal with it. And by the way, I don't know about you but my estimation of people has often gone up when they've owned their stuff that I never dreamed they would and when they did what was right and what was humbling for them. And my experience too, it'll do your soul a lot of good. You know grace flows toward humility and I don't know anything more painful than when I've said something or said something I shouldn't or done something or not followed through and God brings it to my mind and I've gone back to that person and said, you know, 16 years ago I made a commitment to you and I blew it off and I had lots of reasons and I rationalized them. But you know what, none of those reasons work. I want to be a man of integrity.

I want to keep my oath. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram and you've been listening to part one of his message Never Abuse My Name from our series God's Boundaries for Abundant Living. Chip will be back shortly to share some helpful application for us to think about. If you've ever driven through mountains before, you know the roads can narrow and get close to the edge where you can see hundreds of feet down. In those moments, you're really grateful the guard rails are there to keep you safe. In this series, Chip highlights the helpful boundaries God's put in place for us called the Ten Commandments. As he breaks down each one, he'll help us see their importance and relevance for today. Don't miss how these boundaries protect us in our journey through life.

For more information about this series, visit or the Chip Ingram map. Before we go any further today, Chip's joined me in studio with a quick but really important word. As we near the end of today's program, I just want you to know we're also coming to the end of the mid-year match. Today is the last day, and I am so grateful for those of you that have given. And I know that many of you heard all the different reasons and in your heart probably multiple times said, oh, I need to do that. Turn your good intention to an action. Up till midnight tonight, either postmarked or go online, when you give, your dollar is going to be doubled dollar for dollar because of a small group of people that gave very generously.

And your 10 can be 20, your 100 becomes 200, your 10,000 becomes 20,000. I mean, it's an amazing thing what God is doing. So if you have thought, if you've pondered, if you've prayed, and you know the Lord wants you to give, stop procrastinating, go online or get out that envelope, get it in the mail today, and it'll be doubled. And by the grace of God, we'll love pastors that nobody cares about, we'll help the next generation discover there's hope and there's life, and we'll help regular ordinary people like you and me grow in Christ and be the kind of Christian that people would say, you know something, I'm not sure what it is about her or him, but I'd like to be that kind of person.

Thanks so much for whatever God leads you to do. Well, if you'd like to partner with us, as Chip said, now's a great time. Every gift we receive before midnight tonight will be doubled dollar for dollar. To be part of this mid-year match, visit or call 888-333-6003. Regular mail needs to be postmarked by today. Again, to donate, go to or call 888-333-6003.

App listeners, tap donate, and thanks for your generosity. Well, here again is Chip to share a few final thoughts about today's message, Never Abuse My Name. I know as a person growing up and hearing the Ten Commandments, if I heard this commandment, I would just think, well, you know, don't swear, you know, don't use, you know, this word or that word with God's name in it. That's not really at the heart of it.

Of course, it's included. But the real heart of it is, do you keep your word? Do you tell the truth? You know, it's that concept of perjury, literally. And then let me ask you something because, you know, it's easy to think of, well, you know, I don't think I do that. Have you ever been given a business card by someone with a little fish on it and gotten involved in promises or a business deal or them selling you something only to find out you got really ripped off?

And, you know, you're going to get ripped off. It's a fallen world. But then just, I mean, have it eat down inside of you like they use the name of God to hook me into or, you know, they have come to a Christian meeting and used all the God language and said, oh, could you come over? We just want to talk with you, have you over for dinner, have some fellowship.

And then about three quarters through the dinner, they have this wonderful business opportunity for you and you have this little knife that goes, ooh, so that's what this is about? You see, that's what the Scripture is talking about. When that happens, we don't swear to our own hurt.

We're not men and women of integrity and we defame not only our reputation but worse the Lord's. And that's why Living on the Edge, our focus, our passion is to produce Romans 12 Christians. A Romans 12 Christian is someone who says, you know something, I'm tempted, of course, to use my relationship in the body of Christ for legitimate things that we really believe in, but I refuse to do that. God will open the door, he'll meet my needs. I'm tempted as a member of the body of Christ when I make a commitment and I realize, oh, that was dumb, why did I do that? I should have prayed about it, that's so stupid. And what we say is, you know what, God is in control, I'm going to keep my word even though I'm going to have to pay a price, I don't want to go, it costs me time, it costs me money, but it won't cost God's reputation and it won't cost mine.

That's what we're talking about. Great encouragement Chip, thanks. Before we go, let me remind you one last time about our mid-year match. So many of you have already been incredibly generous and I want to thank you for partnering with us. But if you've been putting it off, you have until midnight tonight to send in your gift. So go now to or call us at 888-333-6003. And again, every dollar we receive will be matched dollar for dollar for greater impact until midnight tonight. To be part of this mid-year match, visit or call 888-333-6003.

Regular mail needs to be postmarked by today. App listeners tap donate. We'll join us next time as Chip continues his series, God's Boundaries for Abundant Living. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-07 05:12:20 / 2023-07-07 05:25:22 / 13

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