Taking The Lord’s Name In Vain

Exodus 20:7 “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.

So the people of God try to follow this mandate by not saying phrases like ‘Oh my God’. Only we need to really look at what this commandment means because it encompasses so much more than that. Attaching God’s name to our opinion is what it means to take the name of the Lord in vain. When we attach his name to a statement we had better be sure we understand his point of view before giving his endorsement.

What we do know is that he has told us not to take his name in vain. In other words we are not to take his name and attach it to our own agendas. We can’t assume to know the mind of God. We have clear direction, as we know what his word says since it’s written in the bible, but we can’t afford to second guess God as the commandment is clear that he will not hold us guiltless.

My kids love to say things to other parents like, “I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have a problem with it.” They say this in instances where they want to do something but they don’t want to check in because they aren’t completely sure we’re really okay with it. So while they say they are sure, we are not always okay with it. We tell them all the time, they need to check with us first before they agree to something in our name. This is what this commandment is saying. God is saying that we are not to add His name to things that are not of Him. Do not add His name to things you think are of Him.

How do we take the Lord’s name in vain? By professing Christianity and not living the lifestyle it takes to profess it. Matthew Henry’s Commentary says it like this:

Those that name the name of Christ, but do not depart from iniquity, as that name binds them to do, name it in vain; their worship is vain (Mt. 15:7-9), their oblations (the act of offering something) are vain (Isa. 1:11, 13), their religion is vain, Jam. 1:26.

Some of the other ways we take the Lord’s name in vain is by vows (I swear to God) that we don’t keep. Or when we lie under oath (So help me God).

Matthew Henry continues that God is jealous for his honor. Of course he would be. We all hate when people put our names on things we don’t approve of. This is why we have to be careful about what we say God is for and what he is against. Human reasoning doesn’t apply to God. In all things there is the heart factor and that is what God judges.

When Christ hung on the cross he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” In other words there is grace when we don’t know any better. Does this mean that this grace excuses followers of Christ? Well, when we are ignorant of a precept, maybe for a season, but our responsibility as followers of Christ is to get ourselves straightened out in things of God so I believe that after a while there is a time when we begin to take not only the name of God in vain but the grace of God in vain as well.