Finding the deeper, more damaging meaning of misusing God’s name
Our society is so advanced we can access the world from the palm of our hand. It is so sophisticated we can communicate our thoughts globally in an instant. But it is so self-absorbed we can design a reality with our own ego at its center. In the ancient history of the Jewish nation, the third of the Ten Commandments said not to take God’s name in vain. We typically think of people using the name of God in a flippant, careless or disrespectful way as taking His name in vain. While this is true, it is NOT the point of the Commandment. On the contrary, all of what society has become presents a much more accurate picture of what taking God’s name in vain is all about. The fact is, it has become painfully easy to disrespect God. What should we be looking out for?
Taking God’s name in vain is not about words. That would be too shallow, and frankly, too easy. When we think about the Ten Commandments, we need to realize they were given to God’s chosen people as a primary guide for living. The first three are all about how His people were to perceive God and what God was to expect of them. The first commandment, to have no other gods in life but God himself, was about an internal decision of loyalty. The second, to not have any idols in one’s life, was about external actions of allegiance. The third, to not take God’s name in vain, was about a lifestyle of genuine godliness.
It's way more than just OMG
The phrase “take God’s name in vain” has the meaning of carrying the name of God as a label for your life in an empty or hollow way. It means you talk about upholding God’s name, but what you do does not fulfill your words. You are essentially leading others to see you as godly when in fact your priorities are far from God. To Israel it meant to live under the Law of God but not to live by the law of God.
To be blunt, taking God’s name in vain is to be a hypocrite. This is a serious charge. It is easy to look at biblical examples in both the Old and New Testaments and point out such hypocrisy. It is much harder to just stop, look in the mirror and start asking ourselves about how we personally handle God’s name. And how does our church handle God’s name?
Ten words of Jesus
Check out our July 27, 2020 podcast, “What Does It Mean to Take God’s Name in Vain?” for more. We examine several biblical examples of failure along these lines and look for lessons. We ask the hard questions about the details of our own lives as we cope with the godlessness of 21st century living. Most importantly, we look for solutions. We reveal ten words of Jesus that put this whole treatment of God’s name issue in perspective. Ten words of Jesus. Don’t you want to know what they are? Study the rest of the Commandments with us to see how they are still valid for Christians today.
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