Why does God warn us about taking His Name in vain? And how can we
ensure we do not commit this grave offense?
Refer Exo 20:7, “YOU SHALL NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD YOUR GOD IN VAIN, FOR THE LORD WILL NOT HOLD HIM GUILTLESS WHO TAKES HIS NAME IN VAIN”.
Please note I quote from the NKJV here as I realize that the NIV merely serves one part of its interpretation viz., ‘misusing His Name’, which unfortunately does not help deliver the full implication of taking God’s Name in vain.
However before we venture into understanding the full implication of taking His Name in vain, let us first of all look into the full implication of TAKING His holy Name. For Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord! And blessed indeed are the ones who turn to Him!
To be sure taking God’s Name implies two facts:–
1. That ONE KNOWS AND EXPERIENCES Him. One knows the Name to be the Worthy Name – meaning to know It to be absolutely True, Reliable and Worthy.
2. And, that it is a testimony to one’s life-sustaining and constant fellowship with the Almighty which becomes evident as one grows more and more in to His surpassing likeness and holiness.
Therefore, upon failing to meet BOTH OF THESE prerequisites, mind not either of these but both of these, one becomes guilty of having taken His holy Name in vain.
Of course it is another thing when one calls out to Him for help out of sheer despair or as “a last resort” as it is most commonly seen. But then the question here is how often does one respond to His deliverance to continue in His fellowship so as to fully benefit of His eternal grace? More often than not, like Hagar, they return to their fleshly roots and stray away from God. Just as we see in Lk 17:11-19: Ten lepers who call out to Jesus to have mercy on them. And even though all ten were delivered, we find that only one of them turns to Him.
This is why Paul writes, 2 Cor 6:1, “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says: ‘In the time of My favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.'”
Let it be known that taking God’s Name in vain is an UNPARDONABLE SIN. Refer Matt 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to Me on that Day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’”
Yet, not realizing this, all mankind commit this grievous offense, over and over again – times after times, generations after generations. Even the so-called children of God thrive in the guilt, and consequently invite the wrath of God which will surely and definitely come upon them. Refer Matt 15:9, “They worship Me in vain. Their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
AS SUCH ONE IS PRONE TO WONDER WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR MANKIND TO TAKE GOD’S NAME EVEN THOUGH THEY CHOOSE TO IGNORE THE WARNINGS THEREOF? The answer is simple and plain enough. Because it is not God they invoke, but in reality, the appreciation and commendation of fellow-men.
The fact that they ‘readily invoke’ any name shows they do not know their God. They do not realize that God is not like them, that He sees through their motives, their innermost thoughts and lip-service. Therefore, pretending to invoke it, as they end up doing in a repetitious manner is nothing but religious ritualism steeped in hypocrisy. It is an evil affront to His Face.
AND WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO TAKE GOD’S NAME AS A COMMONPLACE THING OR AS MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE IN THE HABIT OF DOING, AS A BYWORD OR AS A SWEAR WORD? I will not even venture into it. For, the less said about them the better!!
Therefore, understand that invoking God’s holy Name means knowing God, which in turn means to translate the knowledge into one’s deeds of submission and obedience to His divine righteousness and holiness. In short it means that knowing Him compels one to walk in His holy Way. And as zealously and faithfully so as to receive His favor by His incredible salvation which will certainly be the greatest blessing to fall on such a one.
Refer Isa 45:19, “I HAVE NOT SPOKEN IN SECRET, FROM SOMEWHERE IN A LAND OF DARKNESS; I HAVE NOT SAID TO JACOB’S DESCENDANTS, ‘SEEK ME IN VAIN.’ I, THE LORD, SPEAK THE TRUTH; I DECLARE WHAT IS RIGHT.”
Let us remember 2 Tim 2:19. “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the Name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’ “