What is taking God’s Name in vain?

Today’s Rightly Dividing the Word:
Most of the 10 commandments didn’t come from God with an explicit threat of punishment attached to them. But this one does: “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.” (Exodus 20:7) If someone is wise, he will seek to be in obedience to the commandment. But to do that, we need to make sure we understand it. Just what is taking God’s name in vain? Well, one example is the obvious–shouting “Lordy, lordy” or “Oh my God!” in an irreverent manner when you are neither calling on Him nor praising Him would be taking His Name in vain. (And abbreviating it for texting as omg is the same, of course.) But taking His Name in vain isn’t limited to using the names of God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son as expletive curses when one is surprised or alarmed. It includes any abuse or misuse of the name of the Lord. A false profession of being a follower of Christ or a lover of God is taking His Name in vain. A false claim that “God told me to….” or “The Lord gave me peace with my decision to…” do something that His word forbids is taking His Name in vain. A TV preacher claiming “God will bless you for sending me money” is taking His Name in vain, abusing the name of the Creator for personal financial gain. Advising people of unbiblical claims like, “The Lord helps those who help themselves” or “God won’t give you any more than you can handle” is an abuse of His Name by attributing to Him traits that aren’t true of Him. Saying “I swear to God this is true…” as if His Name was your property to call upon to bolster your arguments is a misuse of His Name as well. It would also be taking His Name in vain to equate Him with false gods, by saying things like “The muslims’ Allah and God are the same one.”
The Name of the Lord is to be praised, honored, revered, and taken seriously at all times and in all circumstances. It is a Name never worthy of abuse, misuse, or misappropriation. So be careful how you use it.

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About davebunnell

Missionaries doing evangelistic and pastoral work in Cluj, Romania, with Calvary Chapel missions. We have a daughter, Briana, 10.
This entry was posted in Commentaries on life and faith, Devotionals, Rightly dividing the Word and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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