Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Did I Take the Lord's Name in Vain?

Have you ever thought about why the third commandment is in the Scriptures? It says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” The Jews have taken it so literally that they refuse to say or write the name of God, instead writing “G-d.” Is this what it meant? If so, why? If not, why not? The third commandment is important to Christians, but not for the reasons many of us think.

In the ancient Near East (ANE), one’s name was a sign of his reputation; it was a reflection of his character or who he was. So it is with God. His name (Yahweh) is both a reflection of who He is and what He has done. So, yes, texting “OMG” is breaking the third commandment, but not because using the name of God is itself wrong. It is because, usually, texting that is something with which God should not be associated, or is invoking God’s character or blessing upon something that it should not.

 When the Bible says, in John 14:14, “If ye shall ask any thing in my [Jesus’] name, I will do it,” it’s not a magical incantation to grant you whatever wish you want. We often will panic when we realize, mid-bite, we have not prayed for our food in Jesus’ name! We may choke on our next bite, people. ;) Many theologians recognize this, and add the qualification, “Of course, everything has to be subject to God’s will.” But on the ANE’s definition of a name, that qualification is wholly unnecessary. It is inherent in the concept of a name itself that it is according to one’s character, or a reflection of one’s person. Praying that is not according to God’s will is therefore not praying done in Jesus’ name.

That means when you pray for wealth or a life free of any problems, and you do it in Jesus’ name, you’re breaking the third commandment. Jesus did not promise you a problem-free life, and, quite the contrary, Scripture promises us a life that will experience some persecution of some kind (if it is a life lived in a godly manner). Praying for wealth (not money to meet needs, necessarily) is a love of money, and so cannot be the will of God. Yet people pray for these types of frivolities; that’s taking the Lord’s name in vain. The point is that invoking God upon a situation is to say that what you are doing, saying, thinking, writing, etc., is in accordance with His holy character. May the things we do, say, write, and think in Jesus’ name be truly according to who He is and what He has done!


  1. but if we hear that a friend has passed away and we text OMG, may HE comfort your family...obviously that would be appropriate correct?

    Great insight brother.

    1. Right--it's just that the usual usage of "OMG" is very flippant, though it's true that it could be correct. Thanks for dropping by!


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