17th January 2012


“Also with the lute I will praise You—And Your faithfulness, O my God! To You I will sing with the harp, O Holy One of Israel.”
Psalm 71:22 (NKJV)

Travelling in America, it is common to see billboards along the freeways (motorways), and not unusual to see them with a Christian context, like the one we passed on a recent visit to meet our newest grand-daughter in Arizona.  This one said, “If you must curse—use your own name.  God”

It is becoming common and accepted to hear the name of God used even by commentators on radio and TV.  Even on shows like The Antiques Roadshow that we were watching last night.  It used to be censored out, but now they don’t bother, and think nothing of invoking the name of God inappropriately.  Many of those who use the name of God to curse or exclaim in astonishment, do not even believe in his existence, so why use his name?

The Bible tells us that God’s name is holy (Ezekiel 36:22), which means set apart for a Godly purpose and use.  King David uses the expression “O my God” in the opening scripture above.  Today this expression is misused by young and old—OMG or “Oh, My God!”  I’m sure many do not realize they are taking God’s name in vain when they throw away phrases like OMG, Holy Ghost, Gee, Golly, Jeez, and other euphemisms for God’s name; and would be horrified to think they were cursing or swearing.  Matthew 5:34-37 says, “But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

You may be saying “I never swear or curse or use God’s name inappropriately, and perhaps you do not. But consider the commandment that says not to take God’s name in vain.  If you say, “The Bible says…”, or “The Christian thing to do is …”, what we are saying needs to be correct or this could be using the name of God in vain.  That is why these studies go through a series of checks to try to ensure they are doctrinally sound so that we do not misrepresent His Word and that we use his name appropriately.  There may be occasions, however, when passages can be understood in different ways, and so we need to be tolerant to allow for different interpretations or understandings, rather than be upset or offended when we do not agree with a different explanation or expounding of Biblical text.  2 Peter 3:18 says to grow in grace and knowledge, so there is always room for growth—we don’t understand everything perfectly, and other explanations could be correct for different people in different circumstances.  The important thing is to sincerely search for truth and acknowledge the responsibility we are under to teach truth as God leads us by His Spirit.

Father in Heaven, lead us in our understanding so that we do not take your Holy Name in vain but to use it appropriately, not in cursing or swearing, but in bringing the Gospel to a world in need of Good News.

Study by Nancy Silcox

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