In the middle of the book of Exodus God gave the people of Israel ten laws that many of us know about. These of course are the “Ten Commandments” that you may have had taught to you in church, or seen displayed in various settings. One of the commandments says this, “Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.” Let’s look at 4 questions we need to ask ourselves about taking the Lord’s name in vain. Then we will see why should stop using phrases like “OMG.”
What Does it Mean?
This is much more than cursing. Yes, that is an aspect of it but it is not the only aspect. So if you think, well I don’t say “GD” so I am good, I encourage you to keep reading. Swear words are really the least of our issues when it comes to taking His name in vain. Keeping yourself from swearing is like treating a symptom without addressing the problem. This perhaps may be the most broken commandment, or one of the most broken.
God’s name magnifies His power, nature, attributes. If not careful we can disassociate God’s name from who He is. We are not just misusing God’s name when we do this, we are abusing His name like the false prophets. That is not a category of people we want to be associated with. Our love and trust goes to God alone, that’s why we don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.
How Does This Apply to Us?
Bruce Ashford, Provost as Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, gives ten re-statements for the seventh commandment:
1) Thou shall not take you name more seriously than you take God’s name.
Think how someone misrepresents you to the world, is it offensive? When someones dishonors your name. When someone dishonors the name of God we should be all the more offended. Take His name much more serious than your own.
2) Thou shall not take the name Christian and contradict it with your life.
Show Christ great worth and value, and show Christ is better than anything the world can offer and greater than what death and suffering can takeaway. Look to Luke 14:25-33 to see the cost of taking the name of Christ. Live a life where our deeds match our words. Many people call themselves Christians without submitting to what it means to be a Christian. This is taking the Lord’s name in vain.
3) Thous shall not use God’s name lightly.
“People toss God’s name around like a drunken monkey at a biker rally, that carelessly and that often.” Look to movies and see how they refer to God. See people we know asking God to damn inanimate object and so on. Phrases like “OMG” cheapens the name of God. Do we need to say “oh my God” as often as we use it? Is celebrity gossip or a sporting event a reason to bring on the praise of God?
4) Thou shall not take my name vainly on Christian T-shirts, bumper stickers, or church signs.
Tacky Christian T-Shirts like: “Air Jesus: The only high I need it.” “FaithBook: God has sent you an invite, will you accept?”
Bumper Stickers: “God is my co-piolit” “Are you following Jesus this closely?”
Church Signs: “When God shuts a door He opens a window?” “Use Sonscreen to prevent sinburn”
This is taking His name very lightly. We again are cheapening the name of God. Jesus in not our homeboy, and statements like that show how litter we revere the King.
5) Thou shall not associate my name with anything it should not be associated with.
One example is the crusades, or war in general. It may not be wrong to ask God to assist you when protecting your family. However proclaiming He is on our side in war is dangerous. He has not given us the prophetic knowledge like Jeremiah and Isaiah to know that.
Also, even jokingly this is wrong. I recall the Auburn miracles last year and a lot of jokes about God being used in a manner that was not honoring. Friends, let’s be careful what we associate the name of God with. Football is not one of those things.
6) Thou shall not make a bunch of rules in my name.
Pharisees did this best. Didn’t want to break any of God’s law, but made many laws to prevent you from getting close to breaking God’s law. Good intentions subverted the whole process by confusing man’s law and God’s law. Because of this these men killed Jesus who was the only man worthy to carry God’s name.
7) Thou shall not use my name to bring honor to yourself.
We use His name to advance our own agendas, preachers can do this. I can run the risk in writing this blog. We can become guilty of glorifying our name, and that is sin. We don’t use His name so it draws attention to us, we use His name to point other to Him.
8) Thou shall not falsely describe me
Only God has the right to define who He is, through His self-revelation; His Word. That’s the problem with liberal revisionist theology. Falsely describing God into a god that they like and fits into their world view. Theology in this manner takes His name in vain. If we do not find it in the Word then we cannot use it to describe God. God has revealed what He has allowed us to know about Him, and it is all found in the Word.
9) Thou shall not mock me
This is referring to overt mockery. Someone like Richard Dawkins or others who publicly ridicule His name.
10) Thou shall not take the name Christian then cease to embrace who I am.
When we approach God’s name with sloppy and apathetic worship, lazy Bible Study, and so on it gives people a false picture of God. If a non-believer walks in to a service you want them to see that you are captured and beholding to all his truth, beauty, goodness, and power. Do they see that we really are clinging to the King? Have we really been made new as 2 Corinthians 5:21 says we will be. When people walk into church services do they see a gather of the saints submitting to the Holiest King, or apathetic and mundane people going through the motions?
Asking questions like, “how is the church benefiting me?” That question in and of itself shows we have missed the point of the church. The purpose of the Church is to glorify God by making Him known the ends of the earth. Do our churches display this, and the people of the churches display this, with their worship and lives?
What Are the Consequences?
When we take God’s name in vain it tarnishes His name, and diminishes His glory. Think over those ten restatements that Dr. Ashford presented. Are you guilty of them, any of them at all? If so, let us repent and flee from doing so. The thing is this is just one of the ten commandments. We need to evaluate ourselves. The Lord will not hold us guiltless. His name is above all else and He takes it very serious. Are we taking the name of the Lord seriously? Exodus 20:7 says He will not hold the man guiltless who takes His name in vain. Simple it is sin, and sin has consequences. Sin brings death.
How Does This Relate to Christ?
He is the only one who lives up to have God’s name attached to Him. He owned the name and lived up to it. This is why Christ was able to suffer the wrath of God for our blasphemy. He took on the our name, blasphemer, so we can take on His name, righteous one. He took our name so we could take His and sit at the right hand of God with His name. Because of His name at Baptism we take on the name of the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Immersed identifies us with the crucifixion, and and raised from the water it identifies us with the resurrection. This is why Believer’s Baptism by immersion is important. Not only is it a proclamation of the Gospel, it is a picture of the Gospel as well.
Christ is the name where people have committed ultimate blasphemy. Instead now, God does not hold those found in Christ guilty, but found Christ guilty on our behalf. Jesus overturned Exodus 20:7, God now holds us guiltless because Jesus is held guilty in our place. The name of Jesus rather than spelling our condemnation becomes the instrument of our healing and salvation. What a good and glorious Gospel! When we take the name of Christ then let us take with the blood that purchased. Let’s live a life worth of this calling.
Stop Using Trite Phrases Like “OMG”
Many will say that when they type “OMG” it means, “oh my gosh.” But it doesn’t the acronym stings for “oh my God.” Just ask any stranger what it means and they will tell you. It means one thing no matter if you want to make it mean something else.
God is holy, righteous, perfect, sovereign, loving, gracious, merciful, all powerful, special. If you believe this then why would you use His title as a dirty, throwaway expletive? Is His name to be associated with the things we attach “OMG” with? I think not.
Using “OMG” to share a ling on Facebook about how someone treats you, celebrity gossip, or a sporting event does not bring glory to the God. Do we really understand what we are doing when we use this? If not. I hope we do because God takes this very seriously.
How about this, only use God when you are actually taking about God. Let’s honor His name. Let’s take the name of God as serious as He takes it. If we really have been made new, let us show that in the way we speak and refer to God.
*Many of these thoughts come from a message I heard around this time last year from Dr. Bruce Ashford.*