SOME THOUGHTS IN REGARD TO
TAKING GODíS NAME IN VAIN
GARY RAY BRANSCOME
The Commandment dealing with Godís Name brings every evil, disrespectful, or empty reference to God into condemnation. As Christians we should treat Godís Name (or Names for we are speaking here of every reference to God not just one) with utmost respect. However, there is much more to this commandment than just the outward use of Godís name. For example: In a certain sense this commandment is a prediction, for those who reach heaven will never take Godís Name in vain. In another sense, it assures those who are guiltless through faith in Christ, that they have not sought God in vain. Therefore, let me offer some thoughts that I have had in connection with this commandment.
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7).
Although the word "guiltless" is often passed over with little thought, only those who have had their sins washed away by the blood of Christ are guiltless before God. Moreover, those who reject Godís offer of forgiveness in Christ are worshipping Him in vain (Luke 18:11). Therefore, this commandment requires faith in Christ, and only those who look to Him for forgiveness can be truly innocent of taking Godís Name in vain.
Nevertheless, there is another aspect of this commandment that applies to those who profess faith in Christ, and that has to do with the careless or disrespectful use of Godís Name. While it should go without saying that those who truly love God are not going to abuse His Name, because we have a sinful nature we sometimes slip up and say things that we later regret. In that event, our regret is evidence of a repentant heart. However, I find it hard to believe that a habitually foul-mouthed "Christian," who has no regret, is really saved. At any rate, foul language has no place in the life of a Christian.
Another way that people take Godís Name in vain is by using it for evil purposes or boasting. For example: When they try to cover a lie by saying "With God as my witness," when they twist Scripture to justify evil, call on God to curse others, or use His name in witchcraft. While God usually gives the guilty time to repent, He certainly does not take such abuse of His name lightly. I read of a man who died within five minutes of saying, "May God strike me dead if what I am saying is not the truth." I heard of an atheist that was struck by lightning just after raising his fist toward heaven, during a thunderstorm, and yelling [to impress those with him] "alright God give it your best shot." Before the Titanic began its disastrous maiden voyage, its owners ran full-page newspaper advertisements in which they boasted that even God could not sink it. After boasting that "God Almighty and all the Rebels of hell could not drive him from" his fortifications on Kings Mountain (during the American war of independence) Major Patrick Ferguson was soundly defeated by a band of settlers who had adopted "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon" as their battle cry. Such facts should make it clear that God does not take the abuse of His Name lightly.
In order to avoid taking Godís name in vain, Jews living at the time of Christ would not even speak the name "Jehovah" (or Yahweh). Yet, while placing such importance on that one way of taking Godís Name in vain, they ignored or even excused many other ways in which His Name is taken in vain, such as when His name is used in witchcraft. In fact, Jews living in Babylon were the first to abuse Godís Name in that way. However, as far as God is concerned, there is no such thing as "white witchcraft," for those who would cover their sin by doing it in Godís Name only bring greater condemnation down upon their heads (Exodus 22:18).
Since those who deny the deity of Christ are not worshipping Him when they use Godís Name, they are, in effect, taking Godís Name in vain, even if they claim to be worshipping the God of the Bible (Matthew 23:38). However, those who go one step further, by claiming that all religions lead to God, blaspheme God by using His Name as a cloak for idolatry (Psalm 96:5). The Masonic Order hides that sort of "multicutural" idolatry behind a veneer of Christian trappings and terminology. Its "Lodges" will appear Christian, in a Christian Community, Jewish in a Jewish community, or Moslem in a Moslem community etc. However, in the book "Morals and Dogma of the Ancient And Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry" which was prepared for the supreme council Thirty-Third Degree, for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, and Published by Its Authority, we read:
"Masonry, around whose altars the Christian, the Hebrew, the Moslem, the Brahmin, the followers of Confucius and Zoroaster, can assemble as brethern and unite in prayer to the one GodÖ must needs leave it to each of its Initates to look for the foundation of his faith and hope to the written scriptures of his own religion." (Page 226)
While some people find that philosophy attractive, the true nature of the Masonic religion is revealed on page 729 of that same book, where we read: "The occult philosophy seems to have been the nurse or the godmother of all religions." That is certainly not what the Bible teaches!
People often associate cursing with this commandment, and when cursing is done in Godís Name His Name is clearly being misused. However, since God alone has the power to curse, even when cursing is not done in His Name, His Name is implied. Furthermore, because the thought behind a curse is evil, the curse itself is evil. We should never want to see others suffer misfortune.
Vulgarity is closely related to cursing, because the carnal nature gives vent to both as an expression of hatred and contempt. In fact, the only reason that the word "shit" is considered vulgar while its synonym "excrement" is not has to do with the way in which the former term has come to be associated with the carnal nature, and its abuse of language.
Some people try to comply with social pressure to avoid bad language by simply slurring the words. For example: they might say Gosh instead of God, or Gee-wis instead of Jesus. However, changing the pronunciation does not change the heart, and God looks at the heart.
Finally there are those who repeat empty words over and over again in prayer, because they think that God will hear them because of their effort (Matthew 6:7). However, nothing could be further from the truth. They simply fail to understand that God hears us because our sins are forgiven, not because we annoy Him, or merit His attention (John 16:27). In fact, to pray in Christís Name is to pray believing that God will hear your prayers, not because of any worthiness or merit on your part, but because your sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ.
While Godís Word does condemn the wrongful use of Godís Name, righteousness sometimes requires us to use His Name in the defense of truth, justice, and holiness. There is nothing wrong with swearing to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" if you are in fact telling the truth. And bearing witness to the truth in a court of law is one way of combating evil. However, woe unto those who lie under oath, and use Godís Name to cover evil. [Leviticus 19:12, Numbers 30:2, Deuteronomy 6:13, Jeremiah 7:9,10, Matthew 5:34]