Any person who has earnestly read the Bible understands that God’s Word has much to say about how we use our words. God condemns gossip (1 Timothy 5:12-13), lying (Ephesians 4:25), filthy talking (Ephesians 5:4), and a host of other detrimental uses of language. On the other hand, He commends building others up (Ephesians 4:29), telling the truth (Ephesians 4:25), preaching the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), and a plethora of other constructive uses of our words. In truth, the power of death and life are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). It can be used to save, encourage, and build up, or it can be used to kill, destroy, and tear down.
One of the things that the Bible has consistently denounced is the taking of the Lord’s name in vain. In fact, one of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament states: “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” (Exodus 20:7). The word “vain” means “for no reason” or “useless.” Thus, God was instructing the Israelites to avoid using His name in a useless, disrespectful way. Instead, the Israelites were supposed to revere the name of God and use it in a serious, considerate way. Many of the ancient Israelites were so respectful of the name of God that they would not even pronounce it or write it for fear of using it in vain. Those who did write it would often throw away the quill they had used, because they thought that any quill that had written God’s name was holy and should not be used for regular words.
While it is true that the Ten Commandments in their original form are not binding on people today (Lyons, 2001), it is also true that God continues to be serious about the vain use of His name. In Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus explained: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.” While Jesus’ warning against idle words is broader than just using the Lord’s name in vain, it certainly would include that as well….
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