About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Breaking 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 important.


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 - 7). 


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.  

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