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.” This is why Christians say things like “Oh my gosh.” They don’t want to throw around God’s name in vain.

What does it mean to use something in vain? When I looked up the Hebrew word used here for “vain,” its actual use often involves the word “falsely.” In the King James where it is translated vain instead of falsely, it’s in a sentence about lying, meaning it would be clearer if it were translated falsely, as it is in many other places. So, then I went a little further into looking at the Hebrew. The word translated “take” could mean to lift up, magnify, extol.

“Name” in Hebrew can refer to someone’s character, nature, and authority. We know that to do something in someone’s name is to be their representative, to speak for them, to speak with their authority. Taking God’s name in vain could mean acting in His authority when we aren’t representing Him.

Praying about this verse, a New Testament verse came to mind. It’s when Jesus tells the parable describing people shut out of heaven. They are pleading with Him, “Lord, Lord,” saying that they should be allowed in because of the things they had done in Jesus’ name. Jesus says He never knew them and calls them lawless.

Lawless…they were lawless. They broke the commandment. They had taken the Lord’s name in vain.

How do we know if we know Him? How do we know if we are acting in His authority? How are these false workers of miracles usurping God’s authority and acting in His name?

In the end times, there will be wonders. There will be holy miracles from God, and there will be unholy supernatural acts of Satan. How do we know the difference and make sure we’re on the right side?

It all starts with the first two commandments. It comes down to who or what we are worshipping. Your heart must be for God alone.