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The despicable habit of taking the Lord’s name in vain

Unsplash/ Julien L
Unsplash/ Julien L

If you want to know the name of the only true God, then listen to the name of the deity that gets used constantly as a curse word. Why do you suppose this happens? It is because man’s sinful nature despises God, which leads some people to angrily blurt out the Lord’s name in vain when they become upset about something. 

What about you? When was the last time, if ever, that you spoke God’s name as a curse word?

One of the Ten Commandments the Lord gave to the Israelites addressed this critical issue: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

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Do you ever say “damn” along with God’s name? What about the name of Jesus? Do you ever use the Savior's precious name as a curse word? If so, God commands you to stop profaning His name. You see, God’s Law applies even to those who do not claim to follow the Lord.

People misuse God’s name when they flippantly say, “Oh my God.” The Lord’s name is holy and should never be used in such a casual manner. It would be appropriate to say something like this instead: “Oh my goodness.”

Jesus said, “I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

David understood the power and majesty of God’s name. He wrote, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the Earth!” (Psalm 8:1). Scripture also declares: “The Lord provided redemption for His people; He ordained His covenant forever — holy and awesome is His name” (Psalm 111:9).

The very next verse states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). Those who take the Lord’s name in vain demonstrate no fear of the Lord whatsoever. How else could someone say something so disgraceful and corrupt?

It is a very dark heart indeed that prompts a person to utter the name of God in a profane manner. Scripture states, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell” (James 3:6).

Hell is a place where people constantly curse God as they find themselves eternally separated from their Creator. People in Hell hate God with a passion. And so, when people on Earth take the Lord’s name in vain, they are demonstrating to the world why they deserve to be punished in Hell for their blasphemy.

The fact of the matter is that we all deserve to go to Hell because we have broken God’s commandments. But the Father in His mercy sent His only Son to pay the price we deserve to pay for our sins. “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

When you stand before God on Judgment Day, will your words be used against you to condemn you? This is serious stuff, whether you currently realize it or not. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). You might laugh it off today, but I assure you that no one in Hell is laughing.

Have you received the free gift of everlasting life in Heaven by trusting Jesus to save your soul? If so, the last thing you ever want to do is use God’s name as a curse word. Such blasphemy is unthinkable to a child of God. And if you do ever find yourself speaking such blasphemy, you will want to quickly confess your sin to God and ask Him to help you never again say such a vile thing.

It reminds me of what Joseph said when Potiphar’s wife was trying to get him to go to bed with her. Joseph said, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). The same thing applies to the way we use God’s name. Followers of Christ have the mindset: “How could I use God’s name in an obscene manner and sin against my Lord?”

It boils down to whether or not you possess a holy reverence and awe for the Lord. If so, you do not want to do anything that will offend Him. The Holy Spirit gives believers self-control over our tongue. If we lose control and profane God’s name in the process, we have done something exceptionally repulsive to the Lord. One such violation is enough to send a person to Hell, apart from the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood.

Jesus said, “Anyone who says to another, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of Hell” (Matthew 5:22) And taking the Lord’s name in vain is 1,000 times worse than calling someone a fool. In fact, few sins are more despicable than profaning the name of God. And this explains why the Lord listed it among the first two or three commandments He gave to the Israelites (see Exodus 20:1-17).

Anyone who lives for sin profanes God’s name in the broad sense of the word, even if he does not actually use God’s name as a curse word. Once the Lord saves your soul through repentance and faith in Christ, He comes to live within you, (see 1 Corinthians 6:19) which gives you the heartfelt desire to serve God in a holy manner with your thoughts, words and actions. 

Are you a member of God’s family today? “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

You see, the name of Jesus is the most precious name in the entire universe, which explains why God commands you to never again take His name in vain.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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