Taking God's Name in Vain

“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.”

EX 20:7

There is more than one way in which we take the Lord’s name in vain. We often think of taking God’s name in vain as using it in a way of cursing or as minimizing His name by using it in certain phrases, and to be sure, this is certainly true. But we must realize that taking God’s name in vain includes any way that we demean His name or abuse it. Today I want to talk about a very specific way in which we take the Lord’s name in vain: declaring things in His name that we have no right to declare.


The definition of “vain” is: producing no result; useless. If we look at the command here in Exodus 20:7, we can understand, at least to a certain degree I hope, that the sin here is of connecting God’s name in any way to that which is vanity. Vanity is the futility of working for or seeking after something that amounts to no purpose or fulfillment. It is what the Bible describes to be the condition of all who are outside of God. All of their efforts, whatever they be, are ultimately done in vain. The end of everything, for such people who are outside of the will of God, is to be to be filled with the utter nothingness of all their striving after wind (Eccl 1:14). This is vanity.


And so, the sin for us in taking God’s name in vain is tying God’s name to anything that is truly vain. This means that there can be no higher way of doing this than that of man tying God’s name to our mere will and self imposed desires, rather than tying God’s name to that which is only of His will. The Bible reveals to us that everything that is of our will, outside of God’s, is that which is utterly vain. The will of man is contrary to God (Rom 8:7), therefore this will is entirely vain and will come to no fulfillment precisely because it contradicts God’s will. “Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish.” (Is 41:11) Everything outside of God’s will is utterly vain and will come to ruin.


This means that the measure for the Christian in taking God’s name in vain is more than cursing with God’s name; it is that of declaring things in His name that are of our own will, and no longer declaring in God’s name only that which is of God’s will alone. If we are to truly be faithful to God, and truly uphold His name correctly, then we must always ensure that when we put His name upon something it is truly of His will. The issue for all of us, regardless of where we come from and what we desire, is of getting in line with His will, and not moving ahead with our own ideas and desires.


Therefore, to take God’s name in vain by declaring things of our own will under His name is certainly a great sin. For we fail to realize that when we walk in this we walk in false prophecy. We walk contrary to God. And what does the Lord say? “The LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”


It is because of this vanity that “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles.” (Rom 2:24) For it is in persisting in our will, yet under God’s name, that we do such great sin. This is exactly what the Jews did, and it is what many people in the church do. “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Pet 2:2) To follow our own will and yet entitle it as God’s will, or to continue in sin while bearing the name of God, these are the same great sin of taking God’s name in vain.


The church is infested with this very sin. It is the evil of self will that permeates her. It doesn’t matter what our self will is bent upon. Too often this is where we become blinded into permitting our self will to have its way. We see and hate a certain type of self will and by that think we can approve our own! We approve it because we fail to comprehend how equally destructive, evil, and harmful it is to God’s church. We embrace our own will because we imagine we are doing good by them, and we fail to perceive just how blinded we are as to what is truly good—that Christ alone defines what is good! “Self will” is itself always the center of the issue. "For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness." (Rom 10:3)


So many people today grow bold to declare their will to be God’s will. We have many different types. Those who go against Scripture and try to recreate Christ into their own ideas, and say this is “the true Jesus”. Those who think they can declare that God will end natural disasters and fail to realize that He is the one bringing them about (and does bring them about against their word). Those who dare to claim that God will bring a certain presidential candidate into office, and then they lose the election. Daring to claim that God will heal a certain person and then that person is not healed. All because we think we know what is best.


The truth in all of these matters is that we do not have our minds on the things of God, but on the things of man (Matt 16:23). And the greatest condition for all of us is that we continue to persist in that which is of man’s mind—our mind—and not in that which is of God’s mind.


We judge by looking with our natural eye and by what we dictate to be good, and we fail to obey God in having our minds entirely transformed by Him. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Rom 12:2). We must seek to view all things through His eyes. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is 55:9) And allow God alone to define what is good.


In reality when we act in this way we reveal just how contrary and outside of the will of God we truly are, and how persistent we are in our own wills. When we are found to be in such contradiction to God, do we repent? Or do we just keep going, completely unaffected by our sin of taking God’s name in vain and of false prophecy? The Lord commanded that those who were guilty of false prophecy were to be put to death: “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.” (Deut 18:20) And are we so bold as to be so clearly found in contradiction to the will of God and yet persist in our ways? I fear that there is much false prophecy in the church today—it is even taught! We are in great need of realizing just how greatly evil and dangerous this sin truly is.


The church today continues to persist in declaring her own will to be God’s will. She continues to live in and seek her own will rather than be in submission to God’s. And this brings great weakness and contempt upon her, and above all, takes God’s name in vain and brings God’s name into being blasphemed. The measure is always this: that which is done in self will versus that which is done in God’s will. And we can never imagine to glorify God and serve Him, the lost, or the church, if we will continue to remain with our mind upon our own will rather than dying to ourselves and living to God’s. “But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” (Matt 16:23)


In reality when we act in this way we reveal just how contrary and outside of the will of God we truly are, and how persistent we are in our own wills. When we are found to be in such contradiction to God, do we repent? Or do we just keep going, completely unaffected by our sin of taking God’s name in vain and of false prophecy? The Lord commanded that those who were guilty of false prophecy were to be put to death: “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.” (Deut 18:20) And are we so bold as to be so clearly found in contradiction to the will of God and yet persist in our ways? I fear that there is much false prophecy in the church today—it is even taught! We are in great need of realizing just how greatly evil and dangerous this sin truly is.

January 29, 2021

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