You Shall not take the Name of God in vain


3. 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/ Area: Speech

This commandment teaches us that we must never misuse God’s Name, but always have respect for His Name and fear His Name and use His Name for His glory. The Bible reveal to us that God has many Names. Immanuel (Matthew 1:23), El Shaddai (God Almighty), El Elyon (God most High), Prince of Peace, Wonderful (Isaiah 9:6,7), Jahwe Jireh (The Lord my Provider; Genesis 22:14); Jahwe Rapha (The Lord my Healer; Exodus 15:26), Jahwe Rohi (The Lord my Shepherd) and so on. Jesus Christ is the another Name of God which are so often misused and used in vain across the world. We see many times in the world or in programs or films that people use the Name of Jesus or God as a stop-word. They don’t use it with respect. They use it to express astonishment or surprise. God says in His word that He will not hold him guiltless who misuses His Name. The Name of God (in Hebrew: Elohim and Jahwe) stands for who God is: His character. If we use God’s Name out of context and not with proper respect and with reverence, we misrepresent God and therefore fall short of His glory.

The Heidelberg Catechism says of this commandment: That we, not only by cursing or perjury but also by rash swearing, must not profane or abuse the name of God; nor by silence or consent be partakers of these horrible sins in others; and briefly; that we use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence, so that He might be rightly confessed and worshipped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22 gives us a clear picture of what it means to misuse the name of God. “But when a prophet, who shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken? When the prophet speaks in the Name of the Lord, if the thing follows not, nor comes to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.” There are so many examples in our day of people who prophesy about this and that, but then nothing happens. False prophecies being spoken are using the name of God in vain. But this also relates to preachers who preach the word of God but misinterpret passages of Scripture and twist the word of God. We see this happening all over the churches of God. Preachers take passages out of context and promise their hearers health, wealth and prosperity saying that the more we give to God the more He will be willing to bless us and by this practice preachers enrich themselves. Many preachers of the word of God think that godliness is a means to get rich (1 Timothy 6:5-8). Preachers use the name of God to manipulate audiences for their own benefit and gain.

But these practices are not new. They were also prevalent in the prophet Jeremiah’s day. The word of God said to the prophets of Jeremiah’s day: “I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy in my name, saying I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea they are prophets of the deceit of their own hearts; Who think to cause My people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal” (Jeremiah 23:25-28). Children of God are also called prophets but there is no more new normative revelation as the Scriptures of the Old, and New Testament are complete and sufficient for salvation. Our function as New Testament prophets is to declare and proclaim the word of God (1 Peter 2:9; Mark 16:15; Ephesians 6:15) in the Bible and to expound the word of God to those who need to hear it, not to add new supposedly revelation. Acts 19:10-17 gives us a good illustration of people who were not children of God who tried to use the Name of Jesus to cast out a demon which backfired on them. The sons of Skeva misused the name of God, and because of that, they suffered the consequences. In the Old Testament when one man used the Name of God as a swear word God judged him and he died (Leviticus 24:10-16).

God forbids the following sins by the third commandment:

Profanity: irreverent speech and talk; obscene language, swear words, dirty words, irreligious or irreverent behavior.

False prophecies: speaking for God when God has not spoken. Predicting events that don’t come to pass. Speaking the word of God and misinterpreting and twisting Scripture for own selfish gain

Blasphemy: irreverent talk about sacred things.

Perjury: the deliberate giving of false evidence while under oath.

It should be noted that all blasphemies can be forgiven us and all words spoken against the Son of Man, who is Jesus, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven (Matthew 12:31). The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing to the work of Jesus the work of Satan, knowing who Jesus is. That is what the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day. Jesus said Matthew 12:36,37, “But I say to you, that every idle word that men speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words, you shall be condemned.” A man with a good heart brings forth good things, but a man with an evil heart brings forth evil things (Matthew 12:35). Paul, the apostle, commanded us: “Let no corrupt communication proceed from your mouth, but that which is good to use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). And foolish talking and coarse jesting should also not be used but giving of thanks (Ephesians 5:4). Colossians 4:6 tells us: “let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” Whatever we do as believers in Christ and whatever we say should reflect the character of God. Therefore Paul commands us: “And whatever you do in word and deed, do all in the Name of The Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).

Truth to consider: If we live ungodly lives as believers or if we speak in ways dishonoring to God, we bring insult on the Name of Christ and people will blaspheme God’s Name because of us. Let us, therefore, walk and talk with wisdom, redeeming the time.

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