Do You Take God's Name in Vain?
God is serious about His name. He always has been and always will be. When He punished Israel for bringing idols out of Egypt, He later explained His actions by saying, “But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself known to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt.” (Ezekiel 20:9, NASB) In His commandments given to Moses, who in turn gave them to Israel, God de-clared, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7, NASB).
One of the most obvious symptoms of a seriously sick society is irreverence. Observe the national news of our day and you will hear reports showing that Americans are acting like undisciplined adolescents. Our people laugh at Biblical values and crudely trample upon righteous principles established by God and validated by His Son. Our sense of awe is gone. We call “awesome” those things which are not, never have been and never will be. We use the word “awesome” without knowing its meaning. God’s awesome name is no longer revered by the majority. Significantly, even among Christians the awe has been lost pertaining to the things of God and toward His name in particular.
When we think of taking God’s name in vain, it may be that our mind immediately goes to the prohibition of cursing and profanity. Americans have fallen in love with gutter mouths. Comedians, politicians, news reporters and celebrities speak so often with filthy tongues it has become commonplace for us and our little ones to hear. Christians are heard to use the latest “cool” jargon without giving any thought at all to the origin and intent of popular words and phrases. Frequently, I hear statements which I do not understand until I pass them through the Urban Dictionary on the internet. It’s then I usually learn that what I have heard someone say should not be said by people who love righteousness and speak from pure hearts. To say the least, Americans are losing their polite vocabulary. Even colleges and universities now offer courses in profanity, attempting to make sense of and dignify the language the culture is speaking.
However, taking God’s name in vain involves far more than cursing and adding “God” to it. “Vain” means “empty”, “lifeless”, or “lacking a sense of urgency”. Taking God’s name in vain suggests that a sense of urgency about God has been lost. The greatest sin against the name of God does not occur on bar stools where drunks spout profanities with “God” in the mix. Churches can be places where God’s name is meaningless and void, too.
Do the words of our songs, prayers and sermons mean anything to us? We take God’s name in vain when we claim to be people of faith but never show any real excitement for things pertaining to God. We call ourselves Christians, but could we care less if our neighbor is lost without knowing God— much less His holy name? If we call God, “Lord”, but we with-hold our hearts from full devotion to Him, then our speech betrays us. We take God’s name in vain when our confession does not match our daily lives.
God once said, “If … My people, who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:13,14, NASB)
— Mark White