The third commandment in Exodus 20:7 is – no using the name of God in curses or silly banter. God won’t put up with the irreverent use of His name. The words ‘in vain’ simply mean emptily, uselessly, or with a worthless purpose.
I’ve noticed a huge blasphemy going on today, all around us. I was listening to a music radio quiz where the girl taking part had won a trip to Australia as a prize, and all she could say was “Oh my God! Oh my God!” On television dramas and soaps blasphemy such as this and using the expletive “Jesus Christ!” is now an acceptable norm.
Do you ever wonder why other gods’ names are not used in a blasphemous way? The reason is that Father God has given Jesus a name which is above every other name, but the powers of darkness hate His name. There’s a clear spirit operating behind blasphemy.
Ancient scribes so feared misusing God’s name that when they came to write the Hebrew name of God ‘Yahweh’, they would first take a bath and use a new pen before writing the word, and even then they left out all the vowels.
God doesn’t forbid us to use His name, but He does forbid its misuse. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, it was ‘Holy be your name’ when addressing Father God. God won’t allow His name to be misused, even though so many seem to be getting away with it for now.
When we receive Christ we take on His great and holy name, because we belong to His family. One of the most chilling verses in this regard is Romans 2:24 ‘God’s name is blasphemed amongst the gentiles because of you’. May that never be said of us. We need to watch our lips and our lives so we don’t take God’s name in vain.
Profanity can be understood as ‘taking lightly that which ought to be taken seriously’ or ‘to treat something sacred with disrespect’. Blasphemy is an act of insulting and showing contempt for God. Isaiah 52:5 is so true today, ‘And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed.’ I was surprised to learn that the city of Salford, near Manchester in the UK, has recently attempted to ban cursing and blasphemy in the street. What an amazing step forward for a British city!
Bad language, cursing and blasphemy show how far away someone is from God. They also prove the existence of God, otherwise the enemy would not require the misusing of the holy name so much. It was found that, after the Welsh revival in 1904, when foul-mouthed miners had a powerful encounter with Christ, they had to re-train their pit ponies. The ponies could no longer understand their verbal commands, which were now without the use of swear words!
This 3rd commandment challenges every one of us. Jesus said ‘For out of the heart comes evil thoughts - murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander’ (Matthew 15:19). Someone put it like this – “What is down the well comes out in the bucket”.
So let’s think today, before we speak. Remember the old hymn – ‘How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in the believer’s ear – it soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds and drives away his fear’. Let’s make a decision today that, with God’s strength and grace, we’ll keep ourselves from misusing God’s holy name. We can’t effectively pray ‘in the name of Jesus’, unless we live in the name of Jesus.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we confess the times when we’ve been guilty of misusing Your name. We ask today for Your forgiveness. Please help us to respect and honour Your holy name. Lord, teach us how important this commandment is for those who love You and bear Your name. Amen.
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