How do you use God's name?


“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.” Exodus 20:7

Many consider it a light thing to misuse God’s name in their language and speech. They curse, swear, lie and deceive by it. Some use God’s name or His Word, the Bible, to support their own false beliefs and teachings. Some use it superstitiously, as though their use of God’s name or things connected with it will bring them good luck and fortune. And, all too seldom, is God’s name used rightly to pray to Him, to praise and glorify Him, and to give Him thanks!

God says that He “will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” It is not a trivial offense with God to abuse His holy name, but a serious offense which will bring His wrath and judgment!

This commandment condemns us all for our misuse of God’s name and for our neglect to use it rightly in ways that bring to the LORD God honor and glory and praise. God’s Word applies to each of us, when it says, “The LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

Our only hope is in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, for He kept this commandment perfectly for us and used God’s name rightly. Jesus called upon His Father in prayer and praises. He taught God’s Word rightly. And His whole life brought honor and glory to God’s holy name – whether that be through His manner of living, His teaching or His miracles.

And, in His death and resurrection too, Jesus brought honor and glory to God’s holy name. He willingly carried out His Father’s will and went to the cross and bore the guilt and shame and punishment for the sins of all mankind that God might show us mercy and give to us forgiveness in His Son, Christ Jesus. And Jesus rose again and is ascended to the right hand of His Father and continues His work of bringing life and salvation to lost sinners.

Jesus, rightly prayed, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent…” (John 17:1ff.).

Jesus Christ, on the tree of the cross, brought glory to His Father’s name and bore the full punishment for all our sins. He desires that we, too, bring God glory by repenting of our misuse of God’s name and of our failures to live and speak in ways that bring God’s name glory. He desires that we turn to Him for mercy. And, in His Word, He promises that forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting, as well as the help to use God’s name rightly, are ours through faith in Jesus’ name.

And placing our faith in Jesus – trusting in Him alone for forgiveness and life – brings glory to God’s name!

O LORD God, forgive us for taking Your holy name in vain, and for neglecting to use it rightly. Graciously help us to hallow Your name among us. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross to redeem us. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]