#3 (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.
The whole concept of taking God’s name in vain—using it as an epithet or a curse—makes no sense to me from an atheistic point of view. Yet, from a believing point of view, the fact that it happens at all should serve as an indication of the innate hatred toward God that’s ingrained in the fallen, dead human spirit.
I’ve thought a lot about this, really every time I hear someone take the Lord’s name in vain: “Jesus Christ!” I feel like responding with “Seriously? Where?!” For those of you who may not be aware, God is closer than you realize (“though He be not far from every one of us” see Acts 17:27), the slightest whisper of belief and God will open your eyes and save you from an eternal hell. A spirit-thin membrane of unbelief is all that separates us from Him. All of the power and beauty of God is waiting behind His name. When someone uses it disrespectfully and incorrectly they are shaking their fist at the person who thought them up.
God responds when you call out to Him. He asks us to “call unto” Him (see Jeremiah 33:3), to “reason together” with Him (Isaiah 1:18; 41:21) and even to sing to Him (1 Chronicles 16:9). He says that He’ll even answer “before you call” (Isaiah 65:24). In all of our interaction with Him, verbal and non, He says He’ll answer us. It might take some time, maybe even more time than we want, but that’s where the struggle between belief and unbelief comes into focus.
Do you see what I’m getting at? When someone shouts “Jesus Christ!” without any heart intention of meeting or knowing Him, this has to be deeply saddening to Him. To which He may respond something to the effect, After all I’ve done for you…
Or maybe it’s our Judeo-Christian heritage and culture? Perhaps in other cultures and at other times, backslidden practitioners slandered their own patron deities by taking their names in vain: “Ahura Mazda!” “Brahma!” “Jupiter!” Probably not, but I couldn’t say for sure. It just doesn’t have that ring to it…
“I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name. In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.” (Psalm 138:2-3)