Robert Morris — The Principle of Humility
All right. We are in a series called "Relationship through God's Top Ten", and we're talking about the Ten Commandments now. So, we're going to go to Exodus 20 in a moment, but if you want to be a professional and turn to some other Scriptures, I'll give you a couple of others where we'll be. We'll be in Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 14, and we are talking about the Third Commandment, and I'm calling it the Principle of Humility, and here's just to remind you about this series. I believe that there's a principle behind each of the commandments that leads us to a deeper relationship with God and with others. If you noticed, the Commandments are in two sections, in essence. The first four have to do with our relationship with God. The last six have to do with our relationship with people.
So, we're talking about that God gave us principles that help us to have a deeper relationship, and the Third Commandment, I think is the principle of humility, and it's about the name of God. So, let's just talk a little bit about the — you know, what? Let's read the Scripture first and then we'll talk about it. Exodus 20:7 says, "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".
I want you to think about this because why would God be so insistent on not using His name in the wrong way? It's because His name is His character. It's who He is. You've probably heard the old saying that guy has a bad name in the community. Have you ever heard that saying? That guy has a bad name in the community. You're not referring to the name on his birth certificate. Right? You're referring to his character. So, all through Scripture, the name of God is synonymous with God.
I'm going to show you some Scripture on that in a moment. I want you to think about this. Even the Lord's prayer starts with hallowed be thy name. Hallow means to refer to as holy. Holy means separate. So, what He's saying is your name is separate from every other name on earth. A lot of people don't know about the name of God and which name it is and there are many names throughout the Old Testament, but God's name that is in the Old Testament over 6.800 times, almost 7.000 times, is Yahweh, and Yahweh means in the causative form He who caused existence. So, that's why in the same way when Moses said what's your name He said I am that I am. I am that I am. I was, I am, and I will be. I'm the one that's always existed. That's where the name Yahweh came from.
When Israel went into exile in about 594 B.C., the reason they went into exile was because they profaned His name, and so Jewish people stopped pronouncing the name of God around 600 B.C. because they didn't want to take the chance of profaning His name, but here is what we need to understand. They weren't profaning His name by saying it out loud. They were profaning His name by the way they lived. They had the name of God on them, but they were worshipping idols. The people of the land could not tell the difference between the people of God and the people who did not know God. I want you to think about that for a moment and think about our culture and our society today. One of the greatest ways you profane the name of God is you call yourself Christ-like, and you don't live like Christ. Man, that's not even in my notes and that was really good. Tweetable, as they say. All right, I'm so excited. I said something good. Now I don't know what to say now. I got excited.
Here's Ezekiel 36:23-23. This is when they went into exile. "When they came to the nations wherever they went, they profaned my holy name," they profaned my holy name. When they said of them these are the people of the land, and yet they've gone out of His land. Now watch what God says, "but I had concern for my holy name which the house of Israel had profaned". Now, just to remind you we get the word profanity from the word profane. The word profane means to treat as common.
In other words, they treated my name as common, and my name is not common because it represents me. "Which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. Therefore, say to the house of Israel, thus says the Lord God I do not do this for your sake, oh house of Israel," this means bring them back to the land, but for my holy name's sake which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went, and I will sanctify my great name which has been profaned among the nations which you have profaned in their midst, and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God when I am hallowed in you," or hallowed, set apart, referred to as holy in you, "before their eyes".
All right. This word, you shall not take the name of the Lord in vain. The word take means lift up or carry. In other words, you shall not take that bag with you when you go. You pick it up, and you carry it with you. You shall not carry my name in a vain and empty or worthless or a prideful way. This is why I believe this is the principle of humility. I think to call ourselves believers and to be afraid that someone in the world is not going to accept us or make fun of us because we live a holy life is to use His name in a vain way. Vanity comes in. We want to make sure we look right. All through Scripture you have to know that the name of the Lord is interchangeable for the Lord. As a matter of fact, I want to show you some Scriptures, and I want you to see these Scriptures. You would think it would say the Lord, but it says the name of the Lord, and man of these you know.
Proverbs 18:10, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower". You ever heard that Scripture? "The righteous run into it and are safe". The name doesn't say the Lord is a strong tower, and He is, but the name is the same. The name of the Lord is a strong tower. Psalm 20:7, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God". It doesn't say we trust in the Lord. It says we trust in the name. Now, we do trust in the Lord, but according to Scripture, the name is the same. In the prayer of Jesus, not the Lord's Prayer, but the prayer of Jesus in John 17, He was in the garden before He was crucified, and He's praying for us. I'm going to show you three phrases that you probably have never seen even though you read John 17 probably many times.
Watch this. John 17:6, "I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me". It doesn't say I've manifested you, but it's the same thing. I've manifested your name. Verse 11, "Father, keep through your name those whom you have given me". And then Verse 12, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name". I kept them in your personhood. I kept them in your character. Romans 10:13, "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved". It doesn't say whoever calls on the Lord. By the way, this is a quote from Amos. It doesn't say whoever calls on the Lord, but we know that we do call on the Lord, but it's I'm trying to show you it's the same. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord.
When I was in high school, I was trying to get right with God. I didn't get saved until actually after my first year of college after Debbie and I got married, but I was going to church and trying to get right with God, and so I went to one of these little youth Bible study groups, and I'd heard Scripture growing up and attended church, and so we were talking one time and someone said how do you get saved, the leader of the group, and I said, well, the Bible says whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, and the guy said, it does not. The leader of the group. He said you don't call on the name of the Lord. There's nothing in the name. You have to call on the Lord. I said, no, it says whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. He said where does it say that? Well, I didn't know, and when I got to college, and found this verse, I thought, I'm calling that guy, and if you're watching TV right now, I was right. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
So, God says don't take, don't carry the name of the Lord in a vain way. So, I just want to show you three ways that we might carry the name of the Lord in a vain way, but we can actually carry it in a humble way instead. Number one is prayer. You remember they were entering a land that was filled with heathens and idolatry and false worship and witchcraft, and they had all these idols and the way they called on idols was to call the name of the idol. So, you had to take the Ten Commandments in context. What He was saying was when you go in this land, here's what He was saying, my name is not a magical incantation. You don't use my name like they use the names of their gods because my name is who I am. You don't call on me that way.
Even in the New Testament people used His name incorrectly. Acts 19:13, "Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits saying we exercise you by Jesus whom Paul preaches". Notice they use Jesus in Paul. Also, there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest, who did so, and the evil spirit answered and said, listen to this, Jesus, I know, and Paul, I know, but who are you? Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded". That will teach you to use His name wrong. "This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus and fear fell on them and the name. The name of the Lord Jesus was magnified".
So, we use His name when we pray the wrong way. When we pray selfishly, we're using His name in a vain way, a prideful way. James 4:3, "You ask, and you do not receive because you ask amiss that you may spend it on your pleasures". Now, we think the word amiss means selfishly. It's actually phenomenal that the Holy Spirit would use this word here. You know what it actually means? It means sick and miserable. Sick and miserable. You ask, but you don't receive, listen to this, because what you're asking would make you sick and miserable if I gave it to you. You don't even know what you're asking. See, the way we pray, the right way, is we pray for His will. Then we know for sure we're praying right. We always pray for His will to be done, and we do use His name when we pray. John 16:24, one of the most amazing verses in the Bible, "Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full". See, the way we pray is the way Jesus prayed. Not my will, but your will be done.
One time, Debbie and I were looking at this house to buy, and I was just really praying, God, please give us that house, please give us that house. I love that house. Please give us that house. And this is when our kids were small. Three small children, and I can remember having a prompting to pray if it's your will. I remember this specifically, but I didn't want to say that because it would give Him an out, and I wanted that house, and I was traveling and out of town, and Debbie called me and she said — and there was a storm, and maybe I called her, and was like how's it going? She said you're not going to believe this, but we're having a flash flood, and the house that we had the contract on is flooded, and it's on the news. There's a helicopter showing the house we have the contract on, and it's got three feet of water in it, and I remember a few weeks later we got out of the contract.
Obviously, it's pretty easy on that deal, but I remember saying, Lord, thank you, and I was thinking like a man financially. Thank you, Lord, that you saved my finances. Here's what He said. I didn't save your finances, son, I saved your family. The water rose three feet in 20 minutes. You tell me how my wife could have gotten three small children out in a flood three feet of water. So, when you pray, use His name, but for His will, not for a vain purpose.
Here's the second way we could use it in a vain way. It's prophesy. Jeremiah 23:25, "I've heard what the prophets have said who prophesied lies in my name". Ezekiel 22:28, "Her prophets plastered them with untampered mortar seeing false visions and divining lives for them saying," watch, "thus says the Lord God when the Lord had not spoken". Now, we have this in the church today. We have people sharing their opinions and saying thus says the Lord. You're taking the name of the Lord in vain. You're using the name of the Lord in a vain way, and what you need to know is the second part of the Commandment. Look at this. The second part of the Commandment says, "For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who take His name in vain". Let me say it another way that the word guiltless means unpunished. The Lord will not let him go unpunished.
Let me show you one more Scripture on this and then tell you something that happened one time. Jeremiah 14:13-15, "And then I said, Lord God, behold the prophets say to them you shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place". Now, this is when God was telling Jeremiah the sword and famine are coming. He said, but the prophets say it's sword and famine. It's not coming. "And the Lord said to me, the prophets prophesied lies in my name". They're using my name. "I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them. They prophesied you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing," that's what the word vain means, worthless, vanity, worthless, "and the deceit of their own heart. Therefore, thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name whom I did not send and who say sword and famine shall not be in this land," this is what the Lord says, "by sword and famine, those prophets shall be consumed".
Here's what it says. It says, "They say," the Lord is talking now, "they say sword and famine is not coming. I say the very thing they prophesy that's not coming is going to come on them". I'm not trying to scare us. I'm really not. I'm trying to get us to, in our society we have so under-valued the name of God. I think we need to remember how holy and how reverent it is and that it is Him we're talking about when we use His name. We're calling into question His character.
I was in a church speaking one time, and the pastor told me about it. He said a few months ago a guy got mad at me over something in the church, and he came to church one weekend, and he stood up and prophesied that God was going to kill me, and that week he died, the man that prophesied it, not the pastor, the guy who prophesied it. Now, I'm not saying God killed him, and I'm not saying he died because he spoke against the pastor, but he used the name of the Lord in a vain way, and I've got a Commandment that says the Lord will not let him go unpunished for using the name of the Lord to try to propagate his agenda in the church.
I think we ought to be careful, and then the third way is proclamation. In other words, speaking the name of the Lord in the wrong way. We can pray it in the wrong way. We can prophesy it in the wrong way. We can proclaim it the wrong way. Leviticus 19:12, "And you shall not swear by my name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of the Lord your God". Remember, we get the word profanity from the word profane. Leviticus 21:6, "They shall be holy, set apart to the Lord their God and not profane the name of their God".
Now, I'm going to hit with you something kind of strong here. I just think our society has completely under-valued the name of God. One commentator, I read, said we use His name in vain when we express surprise with God's name, and I thought what about the little saying that is so popular right now, oh, my God, and we put O.M.G. and yet there's no reverence or no holiness in our mind where Jewish people won't even spell it out, and yet we put O.M.G. like L.O.L. Oh my God. I just think we need to think about this, and then obviously, to be so arrogant that you would curse someone in God's name or curse something. That would be the G.D. word. That's why I feel like this is the principle of humility, but we can proclaim His name in a right way.
Let me show you a few verses. Psalm 44:8, "In God we boast all day long and praise your name forever". Notice it doesn't say praise you. It says praise your name forever. A very famous one. Psalm 100:4, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name". Have you ever said that to the Lord, bless your name? Bless your name, God. And then another famous one, Psalm 113:3, "From the rising of the sun to its going down, the Lord's name is to be praised". The best way to proclaim the name of the Lord is with praise and gratitude. That's the best way.
Now, let me go back to something. The Lord will not hold him guiltless or the Lord will not let him go unpunished. Okay, that's tough. When I started studying this, I thought I'm in trouble, and you might have thought that too. I probably prayed your name the wrong way. I probably said some things that I felt like God was saying to me that you weren't saying to me, and I'm sure that I proclaimed your name in the wrong way even if it's that expression, oh, my God. I've considered your name common, Lord, so what does this mean, I'm not going to go unpunished?
But you've got to remember, you've got to take the Bible as a whole. You've got to remember that Christ took our punishment. I'm grateful because I've broken more than just one Commandment, and Christ took our punishment. I want to bring you back to that the Commandments were given by grace. This shocks so many people because they talk about the Mosaic Covenant, but before He ever made the Mosaic Covenant, He made the Abrahamic Covenant. He'd already made that. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Righteousness was put in his account. God did not give the Ten Commandments to Israel while they were in Egypt.
In other words, God didn't say you straighten up and act right and then I'll deliver you from your enemies. God said I'll deliver you from your enemies, and I'll bury them in the Red Sea and then after I save you by grace, I'll give you some principles to help you and I have a better relationship. That's the Ten Commandments. All by grace, and it's by grace through faith because when they walked to the Red Sea, they had to believe that those walls weren't going to crash on them. I'm telling you, I'm not giving you these principles to tell you straighten up and live right. I'm telling you, Jesus took your punishment, and now, keeping these principles will give you a deeper relationship with God and with other people.
God is such a God of grace. He gives us these Ten Commandments, but He gave them to Israel after He delivered them. In the same way, Jesus by His blood, has delivered us and now God in His grace gives us principles for living. Principles that enhance our relationship with Him and our relationship with others.