Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:7

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” – Exodus 20:7  

Our focus verse this week speaks of the third commandment. This is a verse that many do not understand in the fullness meant.  Many believe this means using the Lord’s name as a swear word, and this is included in the meaning.  However, there is much more that is intended by this phrase.  First, let us look at the Lord’s names based on what scripture says.  His name plays an essential role in the scriptures. 

Let us look at several verses that show His glory is exhibited through His name.  “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!” Psalm 8:1.  And this one, “He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.”   Psalm 111:9. In both of these verses, God’s name is exalted.  It is holy and awesome because of who He is.  His name is who He is; exalted, holy and awesome.  However, many times it is used in a less than a positive manner, and unfortunately, this shows how those who speak this way see Him.

In the Lord’s prayer, we are taught the manner we are to  address God.  “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9b-10.  His name and majesty should be one of the foremost thoughts in our prayers.  But as I read recently, too often we barge into God’s presence with presumptuous ‘to-do lists’ for Him, without being mindful of His holiness, awesomeness and the vast chasm that separates our nature from His.  We must be careful when we go to Him in prayer that we remember who He is and our love for Him. 

Another way we take His name in vain is via hypocrisy.  By hypocrisy is meant making profession of God’s name, but not living up to that profession. If we call ourselves followers of God, then we should live as such.  This include making promises to God and not keeping them.  Also, when we make rash swearing in vows such as  “I swear to God I will do it.”  The scripture are clear about this.  “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” Matthew 5:37.  The idea is that we should not make a vow anytime, except when required in civic matters.  For if we do not follow through, then we break our vow.  This leads to using the name of God lightly and carelessly.  Examples of this are “Oh my God” or the name Jesus Christ in a form not referring to Him. 

There is so much that can be said here.  However, what is important is that we understand any reference to the name of God in a way that does not refer to His greatness, holiness, exaltedness should never be done.  He is the almighty  God who has no beginning or end, created everything that is and loved us so much that He provided forgiveness of all our sins through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus.  Knowing this, we should see Him for who He is, the Almighty One, and at no time should we use His name in any way that does not bring Him glory, honor, and praise. And if we do we will suffer the consequences of this act however God chooses.  “for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7b.  As Paul wrote “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8.  And as we think in this way so we should speak this way as well.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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