Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
This verse never meant that God’s people shouldn’t use His Name Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey (or YHWH) which He gave to Moshe (Exodus 3:13-15; see the Third Commandment and also The Name of God). It simply means don’t ascribe to YHWH something He didn’t do or say.
To begin with, His “name” is NOT “God”’; it is YHWH. “God” is His title. He is our “God” – our ELOHIM. He has only one Name and that is YHWH. Secondly, “using his name in vain” would be, for instance, someone saying something like, “God told me to kill my ailing 90 year old mother.” There is no way that could have come from God because “Do not murder” is one of the Ten Commandments! “God” would NEVER tell you to do anything that would violate His Torah (Divine Instructions in Righteousness).
One real life example of misunderstanding the “do not use his name in vain” idea can be seen in some of the things espoused by comedian Steve Harvey concerning God and the Bible. Don’t get me wrong – Steve Harvey is a VERY nice, hard-working guy; but he he has not yet grasped the gravity of what the Bible says about God and what He expects of HIS people – the crux of which is “holiness.” (See Leviticus 20:26, 1 Peter 1:16 and a whole host of similar scriptures.)
In a recent CBS “Sunday Morning” segment about the host of “Family Feud” he (Harvey) related that, at one point during his early years, while struggling to become a successful comedian, he made a pact with God, that if God would allow him to become successful at this “God-given gift” he would publicly give God the credit. Said Harvey, “I told God if He’d let me make it, when I get there I’m gonna tell everybody it was You.”
And he did! The twice-divorced Harvey kept his promise once television and radio opportunities came along to launch his career. Toward the end of his interview, Harvey related, “I get slammed all the time for my walk, but…Look at me, look at my life, look at where I come from, look where I am. Now, I don’t know what scriptures YOU use where YOU'RE at, but the one I use is working!”
…Well, two things here (three, if you count the fact that God hates divorce – Malachi 2:16):
First, one should NEVER negotiate with YHWH! “God, if You do this for me, I will do that for You.” "Lord, if you get me out of this mess, I promise I will start going to church regularly.” Even if you mean it, the bottom line is, unless your desires line up with HIS will and HIS Torah, it’s not going to happen! Bargaining with God lowers Him to a mere human level and negates the TRUST we are to have in Him for everything in our life - good or bad – because everything in life is a learning experience that is supposed to lift us to a deeper understanding with our Creator (Proverbs 3:5-6).
He’s not your genie-in-a-bottle or your “sugar Daddy” or the President of the “Make-A-Wish Foundation”; He is our Divine Creator. You are to obey HIM, not the other way around! If you bargain with Him and it doesn’t come to pass, you’ll only end up disappointed and angry with God! Not to mention, you’ve totally misunderstood that a relationship with God means you are to supposed to learn about Him and do things according to His Torah; not use Him as someone to call on whenever you want something. It’s not “about you” – it’s all about HIM!
Secondly: The “scriptures” Harvey thinks he is using are in reality NOT responsible for his success! He seems to have totally taken out of context the passages in Matthew 7:7-12 and Luke 11:9-13 (and various other scriptures which say basically the same thing and have spawned the basic tenets of the “prosperity gospel”).
Matthew 7: 7. Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. 8. For anyone that asks will receive, and that seeks, will find. And to him that knock, it will be opened to him. 9. Or whom among you fathers if his son asks of him for bread, why to him would hold out a rock? 10. And if he asks a fish of him, why to him would hold out a snake? 11. And if, therefore, you who are imperfect know to give good gifts to your sons, how so much more your Father who is in heaven will give good to those that ask Him. 12. All that which you desire that the sons of men should do for you, also like this you do to them. This is for Torah and the prophets. (AENT)
While the above seems to suggest that God will give you anything you ask for…nothing could be further from the truth! (Take a listen to Janice Joplin’s song, “Mercedez Benz” wherein she asks God to buy her a Benz, a color TV and a night on the town.) The gifts YHWH gives to His children don’t necessarily include their desires of the heart such as money, power, romance, jobs, etc; but rather, the gift of the Ruach haKodesh/Holy Spirit who helps you discern His will and teaches you to live a righteous, holy, set apart life.
The gifts include the list we see Galatians 5:22-23 which tells us that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. The Bible makes it clear that everyone receives the Holy Spirit the moment he or she believes that Y’shua is the Messiah (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14).
The fruit of the Ruach haKodesh is in direct contrast with the acts of the sinful nature in Galatians 5:19-21, “19. For you know the works of the flesh, which are these: adultery, impurity and lasciviousness, 20. idolatry, witchcraft, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, stubbornness, treacheries, heresies, 21. Envy, murder, drunkenness, revelry and all like things. Those who do things like these, they will not inherit the Kingdom of Elohim.” (AENT)
John 14: 12. Amen, amen I say to you that whoever believes in me, these works that I do, he will do also, and more than these he will do because I go to the Father. 13. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do for you that the Father might be glorified by His Son. 14. And if you ask of me, in my name, I will do it! 15. If you love me, keep my Commandments. (AENT)
Notice that? “If you love me, keep my Commandments.” It doesn’t say, “If you love me, ask me to buy you a house or make your career flourish!”
Returning to Steve Harvey’s comments about how the scriptures he reads are “working for him” – Well, on the surface it appears to be true, but one must ask: Would YHWH really allow someone’s career to flourish when it is built on cussing and making lewd comments about women’s anatomy, etc? Can one go around and use dirty words and still be considered holy? Let’s see what the Bible says:
Ephesians 4:29 tells us, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." First Peter 3:10 declares, "For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech." James 3 brings home the fact that our tongue can at once be a friend and enemy.”
James 3: 6. Now the tongue is a fire, and the world of sin is like a forest. And this tongue, which is one among our members, corrupts our whole body; and it inflames the series of our generations that roll on like a wheel; and it is itself on fire. 7. For all natures of beasts and birds and reptiles of the sea or land are dominated by the nature of man. 8. But the tongue has no one been able to tame: it is an evil thing, unruly and full of deadly poison. 9. For with it, we bless Master YHWH and Father; and with it we curse men who were made in the image of Elohim: 10. and from the same mouth issues forth curses and blessings. My Brothers, these things should not be. 11. Can there flow from the same fountain, sweet and bitter waters? 12. Or can the fig-tree, my Brothers, bear olives? or the vine, figs? So also salt waters cannot be made sweet. 13. Who is wise and instructed among you? Let him show his works in praiseworthy actions, with modest wisdom. (AENT)
Y’shua explained that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts. Our speech will always indicate what is in our hearts. “From a good man the treasures that are in his good heart brings forth good things, and an evil man the evil treasures that are in his heart brings forth evil things. For the abundance of the heart speak the lips.” (Luke 6:45).
Why is it a sin to cuss /swear /curse? Sin is a condition of the heart, the mind, and “the inner man” (Romans 7:22), which is manifested in our thoughts, actions and words. When we use “bad language”, we are giving evidence of the polluting sin in our hearts that must be confessed and repented of. Thankfully, our ELOHIM is merciful and “faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)
The thing is, we cannot have the Holy Spirit within and continue to “live in the world” because to do so would be considered “deliberate sinning” – for which there is no sacrifice!
Hebrews 10: 26 For if we deliberately continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but only the terrifying prospect of Judgment, or raging fire that will consume the enemies.
So you see, “using the Lord’s Name in vain” can be extremely dangerous. Yes, He IS there and He WILL guide you and assist you along His Path. But He will NEVER go against His Torah just to please your every desire.
So please be careful not to “use His Name in vain” which includes bargaining with Him. Get into the Bible and find out Who He is and what He expects of YOU!