On using Gods Name in Vain

Anne - posted on 07/20/2009 ( 12 moms have responded )

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A friend sent this to me in an e-mail. I thought it was worth sharing.



Taking the Name in vain
Posted: September 09, 2006
1:00 am Eastern

By Greg Laurie
© 2009

Greg Laurie is the author of 12 inspirational books, which are available online.

In a previous article, I listed God's "Top Ten list" of all time, the Ten Commandments. Now let's consider the third commandment on God's list:
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)
Here is one of the most misunderstood of the commandments, one that can be so easily broken. One of the most common ways to take the Name of God in vain is through profanity.

Have you ever noticed how many who claim to be atheists invoke God's name quite regularly? "Oh my God!" or "Oh God!" Or by cursing. Look, God's last name is not damn. Such talk is clearly not a genuine call to the one true God, but is rather using the Name of God in a vain – that is, in an empty, frivolous and insincere – way. The Bible states clearly, "The LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain."

This is no idle threat but is simply a statement of fact. God is laying down an unchanging truth, not unlike the law of gravity. If you step off a 30-story building, you will fall to your death. That's not a threat, but a simple statement of fact. In the same way, if you take God's Name in vain, you will not be held guiltless or go unpunished. I shudder when I see people go out of their way to insult or blaspheme God.

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked." (Galatians 6:7) We must remember the God is holy. If there is one thing we see repeatedly in Scripture it is this fact. So we want to always have reverence and respect for God's Holy Name.

Another common way people take the Name of God in vain is by saying, "I swear to God this is true." But why do we have to "swear to God"? Isn't this because our word isn't reliable normally? Do we find ourselves backing up our words because we make commitments we don't keep or say things that aren't true?

Jesus explained this in the Sermon on the Mount:

Again, you have heard that the Law of Moses says, "Do not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you have made to the Lord." But I say, don't make any vows! Just say a simple, "Yes, I will," or "No, I won't." (Matthew 5:37)
Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong. Here are a few practical applications:

If you say that you are going to do something, do it! Don't make commitments you don't intend to keep. "Oh sure, I'll meet you for dinner," but then you cancel at the last minute because someone you liked better called. Then you go out to dinner with them and run into the person you canceled!
When you are hired to do a job, you should do it. Christians should be the hardest workers, never using their faith as an excuse for laziness. "I can't sweep the floor now, I need to pray!"
When two people commit themselves to each other in marriage, they should honor their vows for the rest of their lives. But people today – even Christians – will just "bail out" of a marriage when it gets hard, citing "irreconcilable differences." But you should honor the commitment you made to your spouse – "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health." You didn't vow, "Until I lose interest in you," or "Until a better spouse comes along." As Jesus said, let your YES be YES and your NO, be NO.
We even have people today in what is called "Christian Retailing" who use the Name of God to further their business transactions. You can purchase a "Christian version" of just about anything out there. Now you can find everything from outstanding Christian books and music to ashtrays and lighters with the name of Jesus emblazoned on them! You can get "Christian" bird feeders, body lotions, luggage, lamps, scones, mud flaps, wallpaper, candy bars, mouse pads ... Are these people serious? Do I have to have "Christian mud flaps" to be spiritual? I ask this question – Is this a form of taking the Lord's name in vain?

As already mentioned, the phrase "in vain" means to do so in an empty, insincere or frivolous way. But when we as followers of Jesus say, "God bless you," "Praise the Lord," "I'll pray for you," let those be heartfelt, sincere statements, not empty clich?s. Indeed, perhaps the most awful and subtle form in which this law is broken is by hypocrisy! Jesus said, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) The hypocrisy of the church is far worse than the profanity in the street!

To pray and not to practice, to believe and not to obey, to say, "Lord, Lord" and not do what He says – this is to take His Name in vain!

If someone were to call out my name "Greg Laurie," I would turn and respond: "Yes, can I help you?"

Think about how many times the name of the Lord is invoked and spoken in frivolous way each day.

"Oh God!" "Jesus!"

The Lord would turn and say, "Yes, can I help you?"

So, next time you say the Name of God, pause and think about it.

He is listening.

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I am so glad to see there are other parents out there like us! People sometimes think we are too strict in the words we allow our children (and us!) to say (or not say!) but I reckon that it is better for them to learn to control their tongue now and not later. Also we try not to have replacement words at all and instead ask them what they really should say that means something.

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My daughter is on her own debate on whether or not "Oh my goodness" is right or wrong. She's only 8 of course, but she has brought up whether or not it's okay to say any form of expressive word that is meaningless. We've discussed terms such as "Oh Snap" and "Fudge" as replacement terms and how mom and dad don't like those either. All my kids will bring terms they've heard to us and ask whether or not it's okay. Alot of the time, after it's either been given approval or denied, they ask us why that particular term is okay when another is not. My daughter and I had an extensive discussion one night after she saw the f-word graffitti at the top of the playcenter at Del Taco. We discussed originial meanings for the terms (she's getting into books now that will have words like gay, or ass in them, and I want her to understand the actual meaning), and what how they are taken today, which words are bad, and what it is that make them bad. I don't really say alot of "oh my goodness", although we did approve it for the kids, but mine would be "golly gosh", or "good golly", which when you think about it, is nothing more than a replacement too. I don't know if in our culture though we could go without meaningless expressive words, because that is how we express ourselves. I suppose the meaning behind the words are more important the choice of words themselves. We should revere God's name, and therefore not use God's name lightly or meaningless, and we should avoid negative terms meant to upset, or injure, such as cuss words and deriogatory and inflamatory terms, but random empty words use to express ourselves when words cannot be found (like ohmigosh), I don't think carry the same weight.

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12 Comments

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Tam - posted on 08/24/2009

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I just caught this too. And according to grammatical rules, they should be capitalized because they are specific names. It is also a sign of respect.

But it's another sign of our times...laziness and disrespect. :( I thank the Lord for all the women raising their children to love God and speak properly! :)

Heather - posted on 08/22/2009

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Anne, I just saw your previous post, but I was going to say that I somewhat agree. It is a name that we call someone, and proper English would say that it should be capitalized. I don't think that it is disrespectful unless it is done on purpose. But many people either struggle with or don't care about being proper :)

Anne - posted on 08/21/2009

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Hi it's me again, I need to apologize for this arrogant post from July 22,9:11 a.m.
God has really shown me how easy it is to NOT use the uppercase letter for the questions I asked in my previous post. If this last post offended anyone Please accept my apologies. Your Loud Mouthed Sister in Christ Anne

Anne - posted on 07/22/2009

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Good Mornings my Sisters in Christ, I have a question on the same line as the article I posted at the top of this thread. Or maybe it is just a vent of sorts.

Do you think that NOT using the upper case first letter for God, Jesus, Christ or any other Name you may call God, or the upper case of the personal pro nouns is
disrespectful or another way to take God's name in vain,or do you think I am being picky and I need to lighten up? Other than my daughters I have never nor do I think I ever would point this out to any one else.

You may notice that if you have ever read a post by me that I have used satan's name I NEVER use the upper case first letter. I do this on purpose. My reason?

Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world? -
1 John 4:4

Anne - posted on 07/21/2009

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Even before I was a Christian I did not use God's name in vain. I would like to say it was because I I did not want to displease God BUT it was because I "was a good girl and good girls did not talk like that".

However Once I became a Christian I did know the difference.

Jennifer - posted on 07/21/2009

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I know when my daughter started school she was coming home and saying the OMG. Even at 5 years old, I sat her down and explained we do not ever say that because it was like she was cussing God. I didn't know how else to explain it to her but as a family we sat down and talked about it and because she was hearing it so much at school it is hard for them not to pick up on it so we allow our kids to say oh my gosh. I don't think it is a replacement word for God...but instead it still let's her express herself with the right words.

I have a bad habit of saying cheese and crackers. Some people at church thought I was using them as replacement words when in fact that just wasn't the case. I just got a habit of saying it. I have never been one to use any sort of replacement word for any cuss word because you might as well be saying the cuss word. It is like a wolf in sheep's wool!

Same goes as hell. My daughter got a letter sent home with her because she was talking about hell and well that isn't allowed to say in school. Now we have taught our kids that as long as they are talking about heaven and hell...it is okay to use that word. But in no way is she to use in just a sentence of that sort!
I explained to her teacher and the principle but was still told she was not allowed to be talking about hell and in the Christian way possible I expressed my feelings and to this day...as long as she is talking about heaven and hell, she along with all the other children are allowed to talk about it. I wasn't trying to proof a point but my daughter knows about hell and she knows if we go there we burn for the rest of our lives and she is very tender hearted and very open hearted and one of those that loves everyone and everyone loves her. I don't know what God has in store for her or what her purpose is but I will keep on letting her ask me any questions she feels she needs to ask me and supply her the answers.

I am one of those that say I swear to God...and I mean I use to be really bad about it, until my daughter kept pointing it out to me and now...I can't remember the last time it was that I have said that.

Thank you Anne for sharing this because we all need to be reminded to stop and think first!

Jenn

Tam - posted on 07/21/2009

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Heather, you'll do awesome. It begins with Biblical worldview, so they understand and appreciate they whys of why we do or don't do things. Not just fear and condemnation. That story about the pastor's wife you shared is so typical of some today. They blast the offender, and could be they are harder on it because it's an issue they have themselves.

Suzanne, that's exactly what I was thinking with "goodness" phrase. I mean, God is good, right? And every good and perfect gift comes from Him. So, to me personally, I'm just using it the same way. But again, that particular one is a personal conviction. God laid it on my heart to stop, but someone may not be there yet or others may have been there, done that and ain't goin' back.

My husband used to say "bless it" when something like that happened and I couldn't understand, but then after much study, we are to bless our enemies, so that could even include when we do silly things or bad situations. It makes sense to me as long as you mean it, not just another empty phrase.

We are taught to have our yes mean yes and our no mean no, and that only the foolish uses words in vain. We have been trying to live by that to glorify Him. It's not always easy (especially when nervous, tend to ramble), but with lots of prayer, it's getting better.

Amy, good advice to not use replacement words. We try not too, but they have slipped in. Especially when the kids were in public school (and dd still is). Just be prepared, they will hear them somewhere. You're doing awesome job teaching whys and hows and not just saying "no" which is a sure thing to get the kids to rebel.

Heather - posted on 07/21/2009

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You ladies are such an inspiration to me. When I was a teen, (I had just came to Christ) the youth Pastors wife, also my best friends mom, went off on me when she heard me say fudge. She said that it was the same as cursing, and that she wouldn't tolerate it. She got me so mad it was horrible. But she didn't explain anything to me, just that I was a bad Christian for saying it. Then she turned around and said "Oh Crap, I burnt supper." It was something that I will never forget. The fact that the two of you are teaching your kids the meaning is wonderful to me, my kids aren't that old yet, but I do hope to teach them, not just condemn them.

Tam - posted on 07/20/2009

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Thanks so much, Anne! We've been working with my teen daughter, whose had a favorite text "OMG" and she didn't realize that even though she wasn't "saying" it fully, she was still taking the Lord's name in vain. To be honest, I've even been convicted of saying "oh my goodness". That's a personal conviction, but one that I have been praying on. Anyway, I will definitely share this with my family.

Thanks so much for sharing it!

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We've had this conversation with our children, at one point my daughter asked me exactly why it was wrong to say God's name in vain. To simplify it to a 6yr olds level, I told her she would never say,"Oh my Suzanne!!' (my name), like my name meant nothing to her or was empty and meaningless, and God's name is so much more important than my name, so we need to honor it with the honor God deserves. It worked like a charm, all of my kids gasp whenever they hear anyone say God's name in vain now. :)

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