The third commandment of the Bible’s Ten Commandments is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (in an irreverent way), for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)
When we think of taking God’s name in vain we sometimes think of this expression, using the word “God” followed by the word “damn.” When that expression is said to someone they are asking God to damn the person to whom they are speaking. Often the word “damn” is used without prefixing it with the word “God.” When said to another individual, you are still pronouncing damnation on someone created in God’s image. James says, “No one can tame the tongue, it is a restless evil and full of poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father (to praise Him) and with it we curse men who have been made in the likeness of God.” (James 3:8-9)
Here is a partial list of other expressions I hear people say when using God’s name irreverently: “Oh my God,” “Oh my Lord,” “Jesus Christ!,” “By God,” “Oh Jesus,” “Christ!,” “Oh dear Jesus.” “OMG” is also used in advertising today to help sell the product. Part of reverencing God is using His name in its proper context: In worship, praise, adoration, thankfulness, and with respect for who He is. When we verbally punctuate our feelings of anger, amazement, sadness, disgust, joy, excitement or fear with “O my God” we are being irreverent toward Him.
Other expressions not appropriate in any situation, publically or privately, are vulgar words. Last Friday, the big news in sports was, “Charles Barkley accidently used a curse word on-air when describing the New York Knick’s play on TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA.’ During the highlights of the Cavaliers’ 119 – 104 win over New York . . . Barkley used a synonym for excrement in reference to the Knicks.” Vulgarity.
Jesus said, “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles a person (food, water), but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the person (cursing, vulgar words, and using God’s name irreverently) . . . the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the person.” (Matthew 15:11 & 18)
One day, a few years ago when I was working as the Staffing Coordinator at the Southwest City Processing Plant, a supervisor came into the office and asked, “Isn’t the word ‘ass’ used in the Bible?” My response was, “Yes, it is used in the Old King James Bible, but when used in the Bible it was referring to a donkey, in the same manner as we refer to a donkey today by calling it a jack-ass.” However, I told her that, “When the word is used alone today it is considered a vulgar word. It is a very degrading term to use with someone.”
“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent, with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:27-28 NLT)
“But above all my brothers, do not swear either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no so that you may not fall under condemnation.” (James 5:12)
In His “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus said, “Let what you say be simply yes or no, because anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)
Just think what a different world our world would be today, the home, the workplace, and our society if everyone would start the day off with a simple prayer as this, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)