About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
The Third Commandment
Exodus 20:7 reads:
"You shall not
misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD
will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."
The King James Version
of Exodus 20:7 tells me not to take the name of the LORD in vain.
The NIV clarifies this a bit when it tells me not to misuse the
name of the LORD.
While being raised in
1950's and 1960's style Evangelical Christianity I thought Exodus 20:7
told me not to use God's name as a swear word or a slang word.
Saying "O my God" was never uttered from my lips.
I now believe Exodus 20:7 means far more than that.
My last name is
Sweetman, so I bear the Sweetman name.
I'm included in the Sweetman lineage and so I don't want to do
anything that shames my family. In
like manner, as a Christian I bear the name of our LORD.
I belong to God and His family, as the first commandment states.
I certainly don't want to do anything that shames His name or His
family. My life is to be a
positive testimony to all that the name of Jesus implies.
The big difference between my name and God's name is my name does
not carry the universal authority that God's name does, and that is
The sad fact is that too
many people calling themselves Christians today are shaming Jesus, His
name, and His church family by their unbiblical behaviour.
Their arrogance, nastiness, ungraciousness, militancy, and all of
the other ungodliness shame God. Exaggerated
hyperbolic talk breaks the eighth command that tells us not to lie (Exodus
20:7). Using the name of Jesus
to promote a political preference, build a financially successful
ministry, preach a materialistic prosperous lifestyle, among other
hedonistic things, is a misuse of God's name.
It abuses the universal authority associated with His name by
making ourselves that authority. All
of this is being done knowing well that the first command tells us we
belong to a jealous God who will discipline His defiant children (Exodus 20:5
No, "thou shall not
take the name of the LORD in vain" means much more than using His
name as a swear word or a slang word.
We are guilty of breaking the third command when we abuse and
misuse the universally authoritative name of God.