Taking the Lord’s name in vain is something that has often made me bristle. Someone is surprised and I have to hear it again, “Oh my…” or some derivative of it (Gosh or Gee). There is hardly a TV program where it is not heard. On occasions the OMG has been used for advertising in shop windows. Sadly, increasingly I hear it from the lips of Christians too. Do we not understand that when use the name of our God, we need to do it carefully? God’s name is not to be played with or to be used loosely as it is done by so many today.
The third commandment warns us not to take the Lord’s Name in vain. It is speaking about Yahweh, Jehovah. It appears in our Bibles in capitals “Lord.” It was the Name that God gave to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14, “I AM who I AM”. In the OT, the nation of Israel became the bearers of God’s Name. They were to make it known through their thankful obedience so that nations around them would come to know about Israel’s great God who saved and provided for them (Deut 4:5-8).
Since Pentecost, God’s name, “I AM who I AM” has now become interchangeable with the name ‘Jesus’. So now, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lordwould be saved (Acts 2:21; Acts 4:12; Rom 10:13, Phil 2:9-11). Sadly, for many people, not only is God’s Name continually misused, the name ‘Jesus’ has become nothing more than a swear word.
Every time someone uses God’s name or the name of Jesus in a disrespectful, abusive way they are breaking the third commandment. It is extremely sad and distressing that the name of our God and Saviour Jesus are as light as breath for many people in this world. We can only pray that it may not be said of us as Christians!
The misuse of God’s name offends God and it offends us, but in some way, it also accuses us. So often, people who misuse these names which we value so highly, do so without knowledge of who God or who Jesus Christ is and what He means for us and what they should mean for sinful mankind. I find it interesting that you never hear anyone misuse the name of Mohammad or Buddha or some other religious person.
Perhaps we could simply, but respectfully ask people to please refrain from misusing the Lord’s Name in our presence, for that Name is dear to us. Perhaps we can take a leaf out of Paul’s book when we hear the name of our Lordor Saviour misused and we could say to them, “That’s interesting. I see you are religious. Well, let me tell you about this God and about this Jesus whom you have mentioned.”
The preacher in Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, “Do not be quick with your tongues, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” Proverbs 10:19 reminds us, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Last but not least, the Psalmist writes, “Set a guard O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psa 141:3).
Today, Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we can rightly claim that the Holy Spirit lives within us and He now controls our tongues. May we not grieve Him by misusing the Lord’s name. JZ