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The Third Commandment: God’s Right to the Proper Use of His Name






COMMANDMENT #3: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain


Exodus 20:7 (ESV)

7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.


·        DEFINITION: ‘vain’ – Emptiness’, ‘triviality’, or ‘without results’.

o   We are not to use the Name in an empty way.

o   We are not to use the Name in a trivial manner.

o   We are not to use the Name without results! – that is without intent to get results.


·        We are very all familiar with how “the world” uses the Name in an empty way.


o   It’s almost like this sign.


·        Understand that the Third Commandment was not written to unbelievers.

o   Those that do not know God have worse problems than misusing the Name!


·        The 3rdcommandment was written to those who were lovers and worshippers of God.

·        So, God warned those who believe in Him and admonished those who served Him, about the proper use of His name.

·        The proper use of the Name became a point of debate among the rabbi’s and religious leaders of Israel.

·        The Jews, who received this commandment, went way beyond God’s intent.

o   They got to a point where they refused to even write the Name fully.

o   They would write the word ‘God’ as ‘G-d’.

o   They would drop the vowels to avoid writing the Name.


·        The most popular and personal name of God in the Bible is “the Lord.”

o   It is found 5321 times in Scripture.

o   In Hebrew, “the Lord” is ‘Yahweh’ or Jehovah.

o   When you drop the vowels in Yahweh, you arrive at ‘YHWH’ which is also commonly known as the “Tetragrammaton” (in Greek meaning ‘4 letters’.)

o   The Tetragrammaton has been found in the 2000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls and in ancient copies of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). It is listed in the Dead Sea Scrolls over 2200 times!


·        This is the Name written in Hebrew. You can see the four letters of the Tetragrammaton.




·        You love this Name, you just do not know it. You do not recognize it because most people are not conversant in Hebrew.

·        The Name first appears in Genesis 2:4


Genesis 2:4 (ESV)

4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

·        The second place the Name appears (of the 5321x) is found in Genesis 4:26.


Genesis 4:26 (ESV)

26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.


·        Here is a side note. When Abel died (at the hands of Cain), a spiritual shift took place in planet earth. You see this at times in planet earth. You see it at times in the death of martyrs for Christ that their death brings about a shift in spiritual conditions. People have observed this phenomena to such an extent that they have coined a saying for it; “the death of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”


What’s In A Name?

·        So, what’s the big deal about these 4 letters? What’s all the hoopla about the name Yahweh?

·        Do you remember in Exodus how the Lord commanded Moses to go down into Egypt?

o   What you find out by reading that passage is that Moses refused to go down into Egypt without the Name!


Exodus 3:13–14 (ESV)

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”


·        Notice that when Moses asked God what was His name, that He did not respond ‘My Name is God’.

·        God is not His name. God is who He is.

o   He is God – His name is ‘I AM’


Old Testament Names for God

·        Every name that He uses reveals a different part or aspect of Him-self.

·        There are 6 primary names for God in the O.T.

o   Elohim (701x) – plural form of God – and so includes the Trinity. The name emphasizes His role as Creator. (Used 31x in Genesis alone) – most famous of which is ‘In the beginning ‘Elohim’ created the heavens and the earth. Gen. 1:1.

o   El (220x) – the Strong and Mighty One

o   Eloah (56x) – God the Divine One

o   Elah (76) – God – found only in Ezra

o   Tsur (1) – Rock or Refuge – Isa. 44:8

o   Jehovah – or Yahweh (5321x) – Self Existent or Eternal One – the Jews would not say this name – they would substitute the word ‘Adonai’ – or Lord in it’s place.

·        There are 11 Jehovah Names

o   Jehovah Jireh – the Lord our provider

o   Jehovah Nissi – the Lord our banner

o   Jehovah Tsidekenuh – the Lord our righteousness

o   Jehovah Shalom – The Lord our peace

o   Jehovah Rapha – the Lord our healer

o   Jehovah Mekaddishkem – the Lord our sanctifier

o   Jehovah – Saboath – the Lord of hosts

o   Jehovah Shammah – the Lord is present.

o   Jehovah Elyon – the Lord most high

o   Jehovah Roni – the Lord our shepherd

o   Jehovah Hoseennu – the Lord our maker

·        ILLUSTRATION:  Did you know that until the year 1100, most people in Europe had only one name.  With the population increasing it became difficult to distinguish among people, so surnames (last names) were added.  These names came primary from 4 different sources:

o   A man’s occupation – Such as John Cook or John Miller

o   Location – John Overhill or John Brook

o   Patronymics – John’s son – Johnson

o   Characteristics – John Small, John Short, John Longfellow. John Widehips. J


·        And so sur-names were characteristics that reflected something about that person. So that when you looked at a persons name, you automatically knew some physical detail about them.

o   There is something to a name!

o   In the case of God, His names reflected something about Him and who He is – and in the many cases they were revelation – they were things that man did not know about God. So God, that is God the Father, revealed things about Himself to man through the use of different names for Himself.


o   God had a Son – He also has a name! JESUS!!!


·        Now as we look at the application of the Third Commandment in the lives of Christians, understand that the proper use of the Name of Jesus is a proper display of our love toward God.


The Name In The New Covenant

·        A wonderful thing occurred in the New Covenant.


·        With the New Covenant, God gave us a new Name – the name of Jesus.

·        Interesting to note that the first three letters of Jesus name in Hebrew is the same three letters as God’s name in Hebrew!

o   The Name was transferred to you in the New Covenant. It has all the depth of meaning and even more than it had in the Old Covenant.

o   All of the reverence, all of the respect, all of the preciousness that the Jews displayed in handling the Name should be part of your life.

§  Does that mean that we write Jesus name without the vowels – No! – that is not New Testament reverence and respect.

o   You should not take that Name, the Name of Jesus, in vain. You should not use that Name in vain.

o   You should use it with intent (remember the definition of ‘vain’?)

o   DEFINITION: ‘vain’ – Emptiness’, ‘triviality’, or ‘without results’.

§  We are not to use the Name of Jesus in an empty way.

§  We are not to use the Name of Jesus in a trivial manner.

§  We are not to use the Name of Jesus without the intent to get results!


The Name of Jesus In the New Testament

Philippians 2:9-10 (ESV)

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,


·        How did Jesus get that Name bestowed on Him?


Philippians 2:4–5 (ESV)

4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,


·        Note in verse 5, how we are admonished to have a certain kind of mind. What kind of ‘mind’ is that?

o   The ‘mind’ mentioned in verse 4.

o   This is a mind that looks not to his own interests but to others interests.

·        Note how Jesus is an example of putting the interests of others ahead of His own.


Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV)

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.


·        To what extent did Jesus put the interests of others ahead of Himself?

o   To the point of death!

o   And because Jesus went to that extent, God the Father passed on the Name to Him!

o   Here is another side note: if you want a name in heaven, if you want to be known in the courts of God, put other people’s interests ahead of your own!



·        Since God put such an emphasis on the Name of Jesus, it would honor God, it would be in line with the spirit of the Third Commandment if you…


Make Sure Jesus Name Has It’s Proper Place In Your Life

What Significance Does Jesus Name Hold For A Believer?


·        Answered Prayer Promised in that Name


John 16:23-24

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.


·        Devils Cast Out By That Name


Mark 16:17

‘These signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils….’


o   We could say it this way – In my name shall they exercise authority over the devil

o   Luke 10:17-19 – gives you a little clue as to the extent of the authority that is in that name.


Luke 10:17

17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.


·        Remember that this was before Calvary – before Jesus defeated the devil in hell – before He snatched the keys of death hell and the grave.  Before He was risen from the dead and declared to be Lord Advocate General of The Church. Before all of that, the name had power over devils. How much more does it have power today?

o   The awesome-ness of His power is so great until Paul prayed for the Ephesians (Eph. 1:16-20) that they might get a revelation of  ‘…what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe…’

o   There is great power invested in this name.

o   Now Let us look at the prominence of the Name


The Name of Jesus Is Supposed to Be a Big Deal In A Christians Life!


Acts 19:13–17 (KJV 1900)

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.


·        Definition: To ‘magnify’ means make bigger

·        It’s obvious that the name of Jesus is supposed to hold a big place in the life of a believer.


The Name Was A Big Deal Even Among The Ungodly

·        Seven Sons of Sceva – (Acts 19:13-17 above)

o   They could see that there was something extraordinary about this name.  They copied the early disciples in their use of that name.

o   Do you see the growth requirement in this 15th verse? – Jesus I know and Paul I know.

o   How well do you know Him?

o   Would you like to be classed with Jesus? When you get where you understand the use of this name and boldly stand and declare it until the sound rings throughout the regions of the damned – then the demons will say Jesus I know and ‘Emery’ I know but who are you.


·        The Religious Leaders

o   They were grieved that the disciples used this name. The religious leaders arrested them after the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple was healed.


Acts 4:2:

2 “Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”


Acts 4:7-10

7 “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.”

o    The religious leaders said we have to stop all this.


Acts 4:18

18 “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.”

o   They recognized that it was that Name that did it.

o   The disciples after they were threatened went back to their own company and had a prayer meeting and they prayed this prayer:


Acts 4:29-30

29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

o   The refused to back off their use of that name!


Other Aspects of the Name in a Believers Life

·        The Name Is Part of a Believers Worship Life

o   We were exhorted to use that Name in worship


Hebrews 13:15 (KJV 1900)

15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.


·        You are literally exhorted to use the Name of Jesus in whatever you do.


Colossians 3:17

17     And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the father by Him.’