googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain

Monday, March 9, 2009

Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain

“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7

Like a parent who gives his child a curfew, God has given us rules so that we might live healthy, happy, and productive lives. God, being perfect, knows best what is most important for us. It’s certainly not a coincidence that the first four of the Ten Commandments focus on our relationship with God. The third commandment then, the prohibition of taking His name in vain, should be a matter of great importance.

The Scribes and Pharisees were known for their strict adherence to the Law. When considering this commandment, they were so concerned about breaking it that they refused to even mention the name of God allowed. When they copied Scriptures, anytime they came to the name of Yahweh, they put aside the pen they were writing with, and wrote the name with a special pen that was only used in writing His name. Even today, I see people write “G*d” instead of writing God. Of course, in their unbending attempts to keep the Law, Jesus pointed out how the Pharisees were the worst offenders of the Law. Somehow, I cannot believe that God intended us to never speak His name.

When I was teaching my daughter about this commandment (and now my son), I explained it this way: Don’t use the name of God unless you’re talking about God. Never use His name in exclamation or as a curse. I feel that’s appropriate advice for a child but I recently realized my own understanding of that verse was childlike.

It had always seemed to me this commandment was an easy one to keep. When I’m angry, I might say things I regret later – but I’ve disciplined myself long ago that using the Lord’s name is not allowed. No matter how angry I get and what I might say, I won’t say that. So I’m innocent of this, right? Wrong!

Consider 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Did you catch that? His people are called by His name. Are you aware that “Christian” means “Christ-like”? When we call ourselves “Christians” we are saying we are like Christ. So then, how much are we like Christ? Our actions directly impact our testimony and our witness.

When we call ourselves by His name, we must be careful then how we use it. Certainly no one is perfect. No one can hope to never sin so long as we struggle in this body of flesh. But when a person, who calls himself a Christian (whether rightly or wrongly) continues to engage in unrepentant sin, I very much believe he is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

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