Stop Taking God’s Name In Vain

Robert Hines

You have been a Christian for years and it is a surprise to hear some of the things you say in conversation, things like, Oh, my God, I can’t believe it” or “My God, what happened” or “God, I’m so tired” or “Dear Lord, what a shame” or “Lordy, what a mess.” Your friends are fairly confident these are not prayers and you’re not talking to God at all.

You may not even realize what you are saying. It may just be a habit, your long time way of intensifying something you want to say. Whether or not you realize what you are saying, we know what it sounds like. It sounds horrible and completely out of place in your life as a Christian. It sounds like a cheapened worldly use of God’s name.

You know that one of Israel’s Ten Commandments is “You shall not take the name of the Lord our God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). You know that “vain” here has the idea of “empty” or “worthless.” That’s what your “Oh my God” is: using His name in an empty and worthless way, a throwaway word rather than the sacred respect the God of heaven deserves and requires.

This worldly use of God’s name is condemned in Leviticus 19:12. “And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.” The idea in “profane” is of treating something sacred in a common way, and treating something holy in an unholy way, a way that gives it no importance.

Such vain, empty, worthless, profane words are surely a part of what the Lord calls “idle” words in Matthew 12:35-36, words that do no work and accomplish nothing good. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment, For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.”

It is time for you to repent of such talk, and ask the God whose name you have profaned to forgive you and help you change the way you speak to the simplicity He requires. “Let your ‘Yes,’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).

You would think that as long as you have been a Christian you would have let the Lord get this out of you by now. But you haven’t. And so someone who loves you needs to be blunt with you and tell you it’s time to stop. You don’t sound like a Christian. It offsets any good you have to say. Those who love you want you to stop.