| What is taking Gods name in vain?|
I have been surprised by the number of young people in particular who profess to follow Jesus and yet take His name in vain by using other words instead of actually saying God. This is done as well with swear words and when I asked about this I was told that I am making a big deal out of nothing that at least these young ones are using substitute words and not actually saying "the words?" I wonder anyone here have any thoughts on this, do you consider using substitute words for swear words, or words to use instead of God as still taking His name in vain or am I being overly sensitive?
What is the standard in this? I had one young man tell me that he believes any word can be a swear word that it all depends on the attitude of the heart and that just because society made certain words bad does not mean that they actually are. This topic seems to come up often with young people
| 2011/6/12 17:05||Profile|
North Central Florida
| Re: What is taking Gods name in vain?|
My take is God judges the 'heart.' In my understanding, if that is what you meant, you can not fool God.
Why would anyone want to take a chance of offending the Creator of the entire Universe, the Father of our Lord Jesus?
Those phrases, like Golly, Dang Gosh, Jeesh are all substitutes for God and curse words. We are supposed to avoid worldly things, that is what slang is - worldly.
I had one young man tell me that he believes any word can be a swear word that it all depends on the attitude of the heart and that just because society made certain words bad does not mean that they actually are.
He is partially right, but when society 'makes' certain words 'bad' then whoever hear5s them will hear 'bad' words.
This is an excellent subject to discuss with young people. They need to be cautioned, as young people are trying so hard to grow up that they misunderstand rebellion for maturity.
| 2011/6/12 17:56||Profile|
| Re: |
For what it's worth: here is another take on this theme:
Taking the Lord's Name in Vain
By Diane Eaton 2001
Most of us learned the third commandment when we were very young. It says,
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain."
I always assumed that this meant: Don't cuss using God's name. I will never forget when I was in grade three and one little boy broke that rule. There were dire consequences for him. For some time after that all the school yard conversation seemed to be absorbed in discussion about that incident. We all got the message: Those who didn't want to get in trouble didn't dare get caught using bad language (with God's name) and those who wanted attention used God's name profanely to get a rise out of everyone.
Conscientious people are offended when they hear the Lord's name used in a profane way, and rightly so. Those who were raised respectably learned not to speak God's name wrongly. Instead they might express strong emotion by using toned-down expletives 'Gee!', Gosh!' or 'Golly!' or Gee whiz! But for some (like my religious authorities at the time) even those words were considered to be 'unwholesome talk' [Eph 4:29]
So what do you say when your thumb gets bashed by the hammer? Do you shout out, "Praise the Lord anyway!"? Is this more pious than saying, "For Christ's sake!" After all, we are supposed to praise him all the times. But we should do all for his sake, too. What about saying "For Pete's sake!" Is that not taking Pete's name in vain? (Oh, but Peter was only an apostle!)
Strong's Concordance clarifies the meaning of " vain" by giving some other meanings: deceptive, falsely, lying, idolatry, uselessness [7723 shav, Hebrew]
I don't think that the NIV gets these meanings across clearly enough. It simply says: "You shall not misuse the name
I will attempt to describe my thoughts on the meaning of this commandment:
Taking a name - the implications:
What does it mean when we take on someone's name? The marriage tradition gives us a good analogy. A woman can't take the name of any man just because she likes him or his house, or because he is good looking and has lots of money. She marries a man only after he has invited her to be his wife. Through a promise, he receives her into a permanent covenant relationship with him. She promises to remain faithful. She surrenders her own surname and takes the name of her husband. She becomes the Mistress (Mrs.) of ___(his name) and receives all the rights and privileges associated with that relationship.
In many cultures marriage has been a form of social security. The woman had a secure place to live and be provided for. Her responsibility was to raise children under her husband's name. In turn, the husband promised to protect and provide for her. She and the children were safe. As long as she remained faithful, she was also safe from other men taking advantage of her. Taking the name of her husband had a lot of implications. It was not just a name.
If however she divorced and kept the surname of her ex-husband, the rights and privileges of that relationship could no longer be assumed. Legally she was not the mistress (Mrs.) of her husband. She was only using that name nominally. Everyone would realize that.
Taking God's name - the implications
We can't freely take God's name just because we like it. God's name is only for those whom he calls and receives into a permanent covenant relationship with him. He receives the genuinely repentant person - those who leaves their ways of sin and calls on him for salvation:"Everyone who calls on the NAME of the Lord will be saved."[Rom. 10:13]
When the Law was given through Moses it was intended for a specific group of people, the Israelites. God separated them out, and called them to be his own possession. The Law was not meant to be a behaviour modification program for unbelievers. It was a blueprint for a relationship - a people in relationship with their Creator. The relationship was acknowledged with a covenant promise by both sides - like a marriage.
The first commandment is: "You shall have no other gods before me." This specifies a monogamous relationship with God, taking his name just as a wife takes her husband's name. Placing one's loyalty anywhere else is really spiritual adultery. In other words, if the Lord is not the master and sole delight of one's life, there is infidelity in the relationship. Then it is vain, or useless to take (claim) God's name; it is vain to assume all the privileges associated with it; it is also vain to assume God's promise of protection.
Biblical history proves that. During the times that the Israelites were unfaithful, they kept claiming God's name, but didn't realize that it was in vain. They may have been the chosen race, but he no longer was protecting them from surrounding enemies. In fact, as a form of judgment, he handed them over to their enemies.
All the other commandments hinge on the first one. When God isn't our first love, then our loyalty to him will grow weaker and we will fail to keep the other commandments as well. Subtly, we will stray towards other affections - and that is idolatry. As our love for God grows weaker, so will our love for others - those whom God has put in our lives. We may dishonor our parent or commit adultery. We may be dishonest, bear false witness (gossip and judging); or we may take what is not ours (stealing). The things of this world will consume our attention and we will covet the possessions and the life style that others have.
We do not easily recognize just how intensely our hearts crave something other than the Lord. Recently I gave away a lot of household stuff. What a delight to lighten the load! However, soon my heart yearned to have some of those things back! I had forgotten all about those items until I gave them away.
Historically, many have taken God's name in vain by claiming to be Christians; but they were Christians only nominally. They assumed that God was on their side to protect them from enemies. But their hope was useless - in vain.
Today there are also many who claim to be Christians but have simply taken the name. They do not know God in a covenant relationship. Perhaps they were "called" only by their spiritual leaders rather than by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Thus they have taken Christ's name in vain.
Living in his name - the awesome privilege
1. We have God's power, authority, and protection:
Taking the name of Jesus has tremendous power and authority, so much that it can threaten those in places of power. When Peter and John healed a cripple, they were dragged before the elite religious authorities and asked:
"By what power or what name did you do this?"
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, responded:
"It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth...
that this man stands before you healed." [Act. 4:7]
The result was predictable. The authorities were threatened and so they decided:
"We must warn these men to speak
no longer to anyone in this name." [Acts. 4:17]
Likewise, when we encounter similar opposition, it is not always because we have misused the Lord's name; on the contrary it may be because we have lived by that name! God will protect us if we truly live in his name.
"The name of the Lord is a strong and mighty tower.
The righteous run into the name of the Lord." [Prov. 18:10].
In Jesus' prayer for his followers he asked God,
"Protect them by the power of your name...." [John 17: 11]
2. We conquer God's enemies:
"Through your name we trample foes." [Ps. 44:5]
David knew this. When face to face with Goliath, David bravely shouted.
"You come against me with sword and spear.
I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty."
David didn't learn this by taking a theology course. He learned it when he was still young, when working as a shepherd boy, when he had a lot of time to develop his relationship with the Lord. He experienced God's power while in the fields with his sheep. He frequently saw God protect him and his sheep.
We too must live relationally in God's name in order to defeat our enemies. God helps us see this need through the trials of life. When we are faced with our own Goliaths and find ourselves crumbling up in anxiety, then we realize that we need to grow stronger in our relationship with the Lord.
3. We have purpose and meaning:
Jesus said, "Anyone who gives a cup of water in MY NAME because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward." [Mk 9:41] In other words, in every little way that we meet a need in Christ's followers, we are doing it for his name's sake. This is eternally meaningful. It is never "labor in vain" [Ps. 127:1]
4. We know how to pray:
Jesus promised his heavenly Father: "I will do whatever you ask in my NAME so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." [John 14:13]
When we pray in our own name - that is we have our own wishes for our own sake - then it is pointless (or vain) to tack the phrase "in Jesus name" at the end of our prayers.
When we sincerely desire: "Thy will be done." and "Hallowed be Thy NAME", then God will answer our prayers.
The consequences of taking his name in vain:
1. No relationship with God
2. No protection
When we do not live by the Lord's name, we don't have his strength and protection. The enemy subtly invades, causing fear, anxiety, pride, broken relationships, division, competitiveness, deception, delusion etc. Our prayers often are not answered.
3. No power to witness the works of God [Acts 1:8]
When we live powerless, defeated lives, those around us see no reason why they should need or want Christ.
If we claim to be Christians and assume to have a loyal relationship with God, but don't really, then we are hypocrites. That is taking Christ's name in vain (falsely). Others can see through this insincerity. Hypocrisy is one of the biggest turnoffs to the unbelieving world. How many times have you heard unbelievers say, "I saw those Christians. If that is what being a Christian is all about, I want nothing to do with that."
On the other hand, cuss words probably rarely turned anyone away from Christ. No wonder God tells us to be either be hot or cold, but not lukewarm. In other words, be authentic. Either honestly admit that you are a not a Christian, or be a real Christian living in the Name of Christ. For God's sake, don't fake it! Don't take His name in vain!
4. We face God's judgment
. for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain." [Ex. 20:7] "
for all have sinned" [Rom. 3:23]
You may protest: "But really, God understands that we are all just human, and we do try our best. No one's perfect. And we're saved anyway"
These thoughts may seem justified, but they don't absolve our guilt before God.
1. Admit it
Next time we wince when you hear someone using God's name as a cuss word, remember this verse: "
you who pass judgment do the same things." [Rom. 2:1] Perhaps we have been taking God's name in vain by worrying too much. Let's admit, none of us have been able to keep our promise of total fidelity to God. "Confess your sins to each other...and you will be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective"(!) [James 5:16]
Let God show us all our rival loves - your possessions, your job, your friends, your church, etc. Renounce your passion towards them and instead develop a passion for God."Help us, oh God, our Saviour, for the glory of your NAME; deliver us and forgive our sins FOR YOUR NAMES SAKE. [Ps 79:9]
3. Live in his name
Put God first in all, and then you will be a mighty witness of the power of God.
"We will walk in the NAME of the Lord our God for ever and ever." [Micah 4:5]
Take the name of Jesus with you
Child of sorrow and of woe;
It will joy and comfort give you...
Take His name:
In power...not in vain!
| 2011/6/12 20:10||Profile|
| Re: |
Awesome article Roadsign. I had seen this thread earlier and wanted to get on to comment that "Taking God's name in vain," has nothing to do with swearing whatsoever. I think that is one of the biggest misunderstandings. Swearing is certainly not good. It is just not what taking God's name in vain means. This article expresses the intent behind that law very well. Thank you so much for posting it.
| 2011/6/12 23:14||Profile|
| Re: |
Here is a example in the Old Testament of taking God's name in vain.
II Kings chapter 5.
In verse 16, after Elisha had told Namaan to dip himself in the Jordan seven times, and Naaman in verse 15 gave glory to God for what had come to pass, he offered a financial blessing to Elisha for what had occurred. Elisha responds by saying, "As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he (Naaman) urged him to take it; but he refused." Here Elisha invokes the name of the LORD indicating that the character, nature, and person of God was not behind the notion of being paid for what had been done. This was a free blessing and mercy of God.
In verse 20, Gehazi invokes the same phrase but says, "As the LORD liveth, I will run after him and take somewhat of him." In this case, Gehazi invokes the name of the LORD in order to engage in self service. Gehazi goes on to deceive Naaman, and even uses the name of Elisha in vain when he says, "My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments." So in so doing he lies about what Elisha said. He first takes the name of the Lord in vain, then he takes the name of his master in vain.
God brings a strict judgment against Gehazi for this, and this is something that only happens three times in the Old Testament, that I am aware of, and that is the curse of leprosy. Here we see God's righteous judgment against him for what he had done, and it all started with covetousness that lead to taking the name of God in vain, theft, lies, and the inevitable curse.
If "Taking God's name in vain," meant using God's name as a swear word, we would see examples of this behavior in scripture. To my knowledge (and I am not claiming perfect clarity here) I do not believe you will find one example of it in scripture anywhere, where you do see hundreds of examples of the ten commandments being broken in every other way.
| 2011/6/12 23:30||Profile|
North Central Florida
| Re: |
Thank you, Roadsign,
You have opened my eyes to a wonderful truth.
This will take some time to fully digest but it promises to be liberating.
| 2011/6/13 0:16||Profile|
| Re: What is taking Gods name in vain?|
To my knowledge and study of the Scripture, taking the Lord's name in vain has more to do with wrongly invoking authority from God over a situation, than to do with profanity or casual use. Like when Jeremiah caused a stir by invoking the name of the Lord over a prophetic message once, many wanted to kill him, but many said not to because He had invoked the name (authority) of God in His word.
I am curious, can one find an example in Scripture where vainly invoking God's name is defined as using it flippantly or as a cuss word?
| 2011/6/13 5:46||Profile|
| Re: |
I would say that today many church visions and building programs vainly invoke the name of the Lord. Not all. But many, God has nothing to do with.
| 2011/6/13 5:50||Profile|
| Re: |
Thank you for the things shared here. I also found a teaching on this topic and will be reading through it. I do agree that Father always looks at the heart and so there is some truth in the way we respond to issues that come up in life.
I notice that many times the use of the Lords name is not when someone is upset or angry but just expressing emotion of any kind. Using "OMG" seems to be used all the time, whether someone is happy or excited.
| 2011/6/13 7:55||Profile|
| Re: |
I would call this an example of taking God's name in vain.
Leviticus 24v11, 'And the Israelite woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed, and so they brought him to Moses...'
He was stoned to death for what he did.
I guess God didn't take it lightly.
| 2011/6/13 11:03||Profile|