What's In A Name?

King James Version

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. Exodus 20:7


There are several names that God uses for Himself in the Bible. Why?

God uses names in the Bible to help explain His nature, character, and the way He cares for us.


Which of these are we told not to use thoughtlessly?

Each and every one of them.


Where Did Swearing Come From?


Satan is the instigator of the use of God’s Names as swear words - expressing anger, disgust, and insults.

Words used in those ways cannot bring glory to God. Nor can I feel reverence for God while swearing.

Neither can they be used with impunity by humans. There is an effect on the speaker from using God’s Names in these ways: the effect is degradation.


Think carefully. We are created in God’s image. When we degrade God and His characteristics, we are simultaneously demeaning ourselves.


Church-Approved Swearing


At some time in the past erstwhile Christians began to feel guilty about swearing. Yet, the explosion of emotion included with the words kind of felt good. The emphasis placed on an event or person or idea by invoking the swear words with God’s Name seemed valuable.


But guilt was undeniable, as stated in the Bible.

So, similar words were invented that began with the same letters and/or had the same sounds as the Bible words.

Swear words where baptized and came out ‘respectable.’

Gosh. Golly. Jeez. Holy cow (and other non-Holy items, including excrement-derivatives). Darn.

I don’t need to list them all. Expletives.

Even the explosion of “Man!” or “Shoot!” can be swearing.


Hurt outbursts. Surprise. Displeasure. Dislike. To diminish.

These life events tend to elicit outbursts that include unnecessary words. Sometimes just the intonation transforms a good word into a swear word.


Hidden Swearing


The world’s cultures have made it even easier to break this commandment. Now we just use abbreviations: OMG = Oh, My God! That is a popular swear expression.

Be careful about using letter combinations that are popular today. Many are coarse and unacceptable (by the standards my mother taught me.)


Unnecessary repetition of God’s Names, even in prayer, can create a casual attitude toward the Name.

He referred to them as ‘vain repetitions as the heathen do.” Matthew 6:7


The advice from Jesus when He was asked about swearing was, “Let your communication be Yea and Nay. Swear not at all.” Matthew 5:37

Keep it simple. Avoid words that do not enhance the understanding of the listeners.


Making It Seem Normal


Today’s media are filled with unacceptable words. They have become ubiquitous and socially expected. Gratuitous swearing. Attached to otherwise significant ideas and behaviors. This has made it difficult to avoid making them part of ‘normal’ conversation.

Movie topics and dialogue. Music. Vernacular expressions. Billboards. Signs on vehicles. Advertisements. TV Shows.


This is part of satan’s ploy. He understands well the psychology of change.


Exposure and Repetition make things acceptable.


Create Change


Habits of speech are difficult to change. {All habits are.)

We must use the patterns for change to draw us closer to Jesus, to create change that shapes us into His image.



Daily taking in the Words of the Bible is the first step toward becoming like Him.

This feeding on the Word works to counteract the influences of the world.

Our first thoughts in every circumstance must be “Will this bring honor to God?”



Habits are formed through repetition. Habits of thought; habits of speaking; habits of action.





How does one go about “taking God’s name in vain?”

Perhaps we can understand the International Children’s Bible explanation of the meaning:

7 You must not use the name of the Lord your God thoughtlessly. The Lord will punish anyone who is guilty and misuses his name.


Casual, trite use of any of God’s names or attributes is to be avoided.



We are interested in your comments and thoughts on this topic.

Do you agree? Disagree? Why? What was overlooked? Or misapplied?


Send me an email: eldon@eldonroberts.com