The following is an excerpt from chapter four of my book: Lift Him Up don’t Pull Him Down – The eternal importance of never momentarily taking our Lord’s name in vain.
The chapter is titled Worth Repeating, and includes twelve different Bible versions of our Lord’s third commandment followed by a short commentary/story.
Always and forever.
God, our heavenly Father, loves us. He loves us deeply. He loved us before our parents decided to conceive us and before our grandparents decided to conceive our parents. His love has no beginning and His love has no end. It is His loving nature to forgive us when we acknowledge our sins and repent. Always.
However, true repentance means we will not commit sin again. Sadly, we as humans, (both children and adults) all have weak character. So never sinning again is an unattainable goal for us. Happily, God loves that we keep coming back into His presence, asking for His forgiveness. And because of the unending grace and mercy He showers upon us, we are forgiven. But that does not mean His heart is not broken every time we sin, including when we take His holy name in vain, frivolously or in staunch anger.
adjective : having no real value: idle, worthless
in vain –
phrase : in an irreverent or disrespectful manner: took the Lord’s name in vain
Since our language is constantly changing, the Bible has many different versions. With each version, it is important its translation from the original Hebrew text be accurate and understandable. Here are three different Bible versions of the Lord’s third commandment, Exodus 20:7. They each convey the exact message, but use different word choices. All worth repeating.
Good News Bible
“Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the LORD your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.
In this verse, we clearly and concisely understand what God is telling us not to do. “Do not misuse my name for evil purposes…” This means: any manner that offers no glory to God, that takes away from the character of who God is, that trivializes His name, that insults or mocks God.
And who is telling us not to misuse it? “…for I, the LORD your God.” This is God, our Creator, who spoke these words directly.
What will happen if we do misuse His name? God gives us a plain, uncomplicated answer to this question. There is no need to look anywhere else in the Bible for the answer to this question, because the complete answer is included within His command. “God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.”
King James Version
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.
When you use someone’s name in vain, it shows lack of respect; lack of respect is clearly an insult that makes us feel scorned. Can you remember the last time you were disrespected by: a family member, your boss, or even someone you just met—like a sales clerk? You probably did not like it. Those feelings of worthlessness cut deep inside us and they hurt.
Just like you are worthy of respect from the people you come in contact with, our loving God deserves only obedience and praise. Imagine someone maligning your reputation throughout the entire day, and you find out about it. Then they come to you at night, asking for favors and blessings, offering no apology or feeling of remorse. How would you react to their request?
God’s Word Translation
Never use the name of the LORD your God carelessly. The LORD will make sure that anyone who carelessly uses his name will be punished.
The word carelessly sounds innocent enough. People carelessly lose their car keys. There was no bad intent, no malice was involved. They just happened to leave the keys in their coat pocket instead of tossing them in the key nook, where they belong. Being surely punished for only carelessly doesn’t seem fair.
But G-O-D is referring to Himself –
~~~ YHWH ~~~
~~~ Yahweh ~~~
~~~ Jehovah ~~~
~~~ LORD ~~~
in His third commandment. His name is above all others and is to be held up in reverence and glory, not used by us carelessly.
The Bible says we should also fear the Lord.
Psalm 25:14 explains when we fear the Lord, the Lord will confide in us. Think of the Lord as your best friend. Remember the bond of confiding, depending, and trusting in your best friend? Would you ever dare turn your back on your best friend, using their name in hateful or vulgar repetition? If you did, don’t you think they would feel sad and betrayed by you? I believe God also feels hurt when we slander His name.
If you feel the need, the absolute uncontrollable urge, whether frivolously or viciously to take a name in vain, try disrespecting your mother’s name (yeah right!) Or your earthly father, or your children’s names. Better yet use your own name in a vile or foolish manner. In truth, the irreverent exploitation of any inserted name reveals the chosen name holds no real significance in your heart.
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