I can’t think of one scripture which commands men NOT to speak one of God’s names. We are told, in Exodus 20:7, “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.” To take God’s name in vain is to use His name irreverently, such as in profanity. Psalm 111:9 tells us, “Holy and reverend is His name.” God is holy and so is His name, and we should never speak His name flippantly. Rather, His name should only be spoken with deep respect and with the intention of bringing glory and honor to Him. Another way His name may be spoken in vain is by SWEARING BY HIS NAME. Leviticus 19:12 states, “And ye shall not swear by My name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of God: I am the LORD.” Perhaps you’ve heard someone trying to convince a person that they are telling them the truth and to reinforce their argument they say, “I swear by Almighty God that this is the truth.” If the person who uses this language is actually lying, they are guilty of taking God’s name in vain. Some, when promising to do something, will say “I swear to God I’ll do it.” This, too, is often done without thinking or with no real intention to do what is promised, and thus it is another form of “taking God’s name in vain.”

There are many who practice the religion of Judaism who firmly believe that because God’s name is holy, they should not SPEAK, or even WRITE, His name. Because of this belief they substitute His name with another name. For example, instead of saying “Jehovah,” they say “LORD,” and instead of writing “God,” they write “G-d.” But what do the scriptures say? Isaiah 12:4 instructs us with these words, “And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon His name, declare His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted.” Psalm 105:3 reads, “Glory ye in His holy name.” God is truly glorified when we mention His name, whether it is in prayer, in praise, or in testifying to others of His greatness. If we are truly glorying in His holy name, we won’t hold back, we WILL speak His name in holy reverence!

There is another way that His name can be “taken in vain” and that is when unconverted men or women call Jesus, Lord. In 1 Corinthians 12:3 we learn that “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (NASB). That isn’t to say that unsaved men don’t “call” Him Lord, for they do; it means that only those who have the Holy Spirit living inside of them can truly “say” or “confess” that “Jesus is Lord.” This involves a sincere CONFESSION OF THE HEART, as we see in Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (NASB). Sadly, there are many who profess to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord who have never truly seen Him, by faith, as their Savior and Lord. They can’t really make the grand confession that Peter did in Matthew 16:16, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” They have a rude awakening ahead of them, for Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” The Lord Jesus went on to say in verses 22-23, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” NASB). How solemn! They called Jesus “Lord” on earth and when they stand before Him on judgment day they will continue to call Him “Lord.” Yet in every instance they are speaking God’s name in vain, for they never really knew Him, and Jesus must say to them, “I never knew you.” Do you know Jesus as Lord? If so, we trust you are glorying in His holy name and confessing Him before others.  (183.7)  (DO)