More Than Cursing: Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain

We often think it’s only through cursing. What does it mean to take the Lord’s Name in vain?  Have you given this thought?  Let me suggest several ways:

The most obvious way one takes His precious Name in vain is by using it through cursing. When folks use the Name of God and Jesus Christ to express ungodly emotional outbursts, how this must grieve His heart.  God’s last name is not “Damn,” and Jesus Christ is so holy and precious; so when people use His Name in such an appalling manner, they curse the only Name that can save them!

A second way God’s Name is used vainly is when people use His Name, but do not direct their thoughts and exclamations to His Person.  Let me explain.  Often we hear people say, “Oh my God!”  It’s all too easy to get caught up in this misguided phrase thinking that we are not cursing.  Throughout the Psalms David and others continually use this phrase, but only when they address God Himself.  When employed in this manner, God receives praise, reverence and glory.  For example, In Psalm 63:1 we read, “Oh my God, You are my God, I shall seek You earnestly.”  David is directing His thoughts to his God.

However, when we haphazardly use the phrase, “Oh my God” to voice our displeasure or surprise, our focus is not on God.  We take the awesomeness of His Name and misdirect it. We apply it irreverently.  See? It’s not just through cursing that we can take His name in vain. When I was growing up, we were discouraged from saying, “Gosh, Gee, or heck,” for these expressions were thought to be substitutes for God, Jesus and hell. Regardless of the validity of such thinking, it behooves us as believers to guard the use of questionable nouns!  So, if you use the phrase, “Oh my God,” make sure it’s Him to whom you are speaking.

There’s a third way we use God’s Name in vain.  It’s perhaps more subtle than the first two. It disguises itself nicely under the cloak of spirituality!  When we use His Name without permission, we use it in vain.  How many times have believers said, “God told me,” or “God spoke to me” to manipulate or control a situation? Still others use His Name to get what they want.  Saints, only use His Name when you get permission from the Throne.  Don’t misquote the Lord!  Don’t use His Name to support your selfish ambitions or to feed your self-centered desires.  Don’t use His Name meaninglessly!

In recent years the phrase, “prophetic word” has filled the ranks of I think well-meaning believers; but never have I witnessed such abuse.  Many times people give “pathetic words!”  I don’t have time to elaborate in this blog, but supposed personal revelations that many times do not come into alignment with God’s Word have brought confusion and even false teaching, all the while using God’s Name to misdirect people.  God forbid that we use His precious Name to bring hurt into peoples’ lives.

Finally, we take the Lord’s Name in vain when we worship Him with our mouth, but do not honor Him with our hearts.  The Old Testament prophets repeatedly directed this indictment toward Israel.  Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 when He said, “The people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from Me; but in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matthew 15:8-9)

The Lord is looking for heartfelt, true worshipers.  He wants us to put our hearts where our mouths are and vice versa.  Determine in your heart to sincerely honor the Lord’s Name, both in conduct and word.  His Name is earth’s most precious.  One songwriter said, “He’s the hope of earth and joy of heaven.”  Don’t you love His Name?

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