Deuteronomy 5:11 (KJV) “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
What is in a name? One’s name is associated with the individual’s character, reputation, and nature, which distinguishes them from others. When using someone’s name in conversation with others, almost immediately, everything that we have knowledge of about this individual (whether true or perceived, good or bad) will come flooding to the forefront of our minds. This especially true when we consider our use of God’s name.
Understanding The Importance Of A Name
The thing we must understand here is when we invoke the name of God within our conversations, in essence, we are invoking the reality of the presence and power of God and all that represents the true nature of God. This explains the imperative need for understanding why God commanded us to not “take the name of the Lord in vain…” (v.11). To take the name of the Lord in vain is to use It lightly and in an empty way. When we engage in this type of behavior, the culture automatically attributes everything we say and do in connection with God’s name and understand it to be a part of Who He is.
However, we cannot limit taking the Lord’s name to the use of profanity. We can also attribute it to instances when we make oaths in His name and then follow up the action with the act of speaking falsely (lies). Invoking the name of the Lord is, in essence, an act wherein we are obligating ourselves to speak the truth in the words we speak following our making of the oath. We are using the name of God as the moral basis and foundation for our “integrity” and to add weight to and confidence in the hearing of our words.
We engage in this action to enlarge our sphere of influence with others. Our motives do not always lie with the desire to promote and maintain fidelity and truth, to bring glory to God, or to even promote the best interests of others. It promotes our own agendas wherein we are almost exclusively benefitting from our actions.
What Does This Mean For Us?
In everything, we are to bring greater glory to God. However, when we engage in invoking the name of the Lord and follow it with lies, we are diminishing the authority, influence, and value of God’s name. We must take into consideration that this is occurring in the eyes of a secular society whose cynical worldview and skepticism are prevalent and who is actively seeking reasons to not believe in the God (Jesus and Holy Spirit) of the Bible.
By invoking God’s name in making an oath, we are obligating ourselves to a commitment to speaking the truth. When we violate the oath with lies, we are providing the cynic and the skeptic with the very reason for which they seek to not believe in the TRUE God of the Bible. If they left this life without knowing God, they would be eternally lost and God will require their blood at our hands (Ez. 33:6).
God’s name is not like the name of any other and we must reverence It based solely upon the knowledge and understanding of Who He is. God is Sacred and Holy and we must treat Him as such. He is not common and profane and we must not treat Him as such. We must never place The Lord in comparison with anything or anyone else because He is the High and Lofty God and is set apart, separate and exalted above all others. He is sovereign and absolute. He is infinite and omnipotent.
The list proclaiming His greatness goes on without end and can never be completely exhaustive. If and when any of us are able to ascribe such greatness to another being, then God will cease to be God alone. Since we know this will NEVER take place, we must honor and reverence God and respect all of His attributes in the manner He deserves.