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. – Exodus 20:7
The word vain has two primary uses: 1. having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, abilities, or worth, and 2. producing no result; useless.
The third commandment reads simply: do not take the Lord’s name in vain.
Identity is our sense of self, our significance, and how that is defined.
Using the name of the Lord God in vain involves putting our self above God. Swapping the created order. So that our false self will get what it wants.
Vain use involves falsely attributing things to God in an effort to get what is desired. Saying “God has called us together” or “God wants me to have this”. God does speak in very real ways to us, but we are not to use this reality as manipulation or as a way to contradict his stated word. Test the spirits, get discernment from your community of those in Christ before attributing something to God.
Vain use involves making promises sealed by the name of God. We do not know the number of our days, we have no control over the sun, moon, or stars, but making an oath is a way to feel in control and win affirmation. Simply let your yes be yes and your no mean no. Acknowledge your inability to control the future.
Vain use is saying false things about God. It is the opposite of honoring God, holding his name hallowed. Creating a false image of the One who loves us. (see No Images – Identity and the Second Commandment)
Vain use expemplifies trust in self rather than God. Instead of openness, listening, and obedience, using the Lord’s name in vain assumes the power to tell God what to do, what is best. It dismisses the goodness and faithfulness of God.
Vain use is handling the name casually. There is power in a name. In the end, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and tongue confess. Demons flee at the name. The Lord God’s name is compelling.
Vain use, inappropriate use, of the Lord’s name diminishes the God that we are supposed to be reflecting. Not making him powerless, but making him appear powerless. Bearing false witness to him.
Reflecting our self rather than God. A self created identity – a false identity apart from God.
That is identity misplaced. And it is evidenced by how we use his name.
I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Discovering Your Root: Developing Your Identity in Christ.
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