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Taking The Lord’s Name In Vain

What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? Does scripture go into any detail on how a person can take His name in vain? The majority of us have been taught a certain way concerning this topic. Let us take a closer look at the commandment from Exodus and determine the deeper meaning.

Exodus 20:7

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

To do anything in vain is to do a thing that is “empty or without purpose”. It has been said that to take the Lord’s name in vain is to use His name wrongfully. For example, to say “Oh My God!” would be a form of taking his name in vain. This phrase could, in fact, be misusing his name and we shouldn’t do it. However, we must consider the language of Exodus 20:7. We will find a more precise explanation of what taking “His name in vain” means. For starters, “God” is not the name of the Lord. It is his title of who or what He is. So the phrase “Oh My God” is technically not taking His name in vain. This fact does not give us the right to misuse his authority but we cannot limit the verse to this explanation alone.

Profane His Name

Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord gives examples of how one can profane his name.

Leviticus 18:21
And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Remember when Moses asked for God’s name, and God responded: I am who I am? God named himself The Sovereign and The Self-existing One, The I Am. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘take’ as ‘carry or cause to go along to another place.’ To take something is to carry that thing with you wherever you go. Another definition from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary states ‘to get into one’s hands or into one’s possession, power, or control.’ Referencing the commandment now, we can see that “to take” the name in vain is to carry His name with us in vain. When we carry the name of the Lord, we have it as a possession. All those who have been baptized into Christ (or into His name), have put on Christ. The scriptures command that we put on Christ.

Romans 13:14
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Take His Name With You

We may go around claiming to have Christ on us. But when we do things which are unpleasing to him, we carry His name in vain. Our goal is not to carry his name empty or without purpose. When we walked in this world without Christ, the world saw us for who we were. Now that we have Christ on us, the world will see Christ.

Imagine yourself carrying around a body-sized robe. Christ is the robe you carry. You put on Christ when you are baptized in His name. We are taking the Lord’s name in vain when we take Christ on us and do not represent Him properly. God would rather you hang the robe in the closet than for you to profane his name as the Israelites did. The Israelites worshiped other gods while professing to be followers of Jehovah at the same time. This act was and still is shameful in the sight of God.

In Closing

The commandment we many times overlook now holds a deeper truth that is essential to your walk with the Lord. Let us not be ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ and carry it with pride and joy. For the Lord said whoever is ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of them.

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