Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Caleb Colley

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(This second installment in a discussion of profane and idle babblings is a powerful indictment against the casual and irreverent use of God’s name that we see in our society. I tremble when I think about the statement in Exodus 20 that says God will “not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.” There will be a time of reckoning for those who type the letters OMG prior to proclaiming some exciting news on facebook or in a text message. I have also recently seen on the facebook walls of some who profess Christianity the letters OMFG. I cannot fathom the irreverent boldness of one who would knowingly type this exclamation. I hope we can think about the seriousness of this guilt being recognized by deity as we read from Caleb again today. CC)
Ungodly Words
The word translated “profane” means unholy, and in contrast to godliness. The word translated “idle babblings” refers to “empty” or worthless talk or “empty discussion…of vain and useless matters.” We know little about what constituted the profane, idle babblings of Hymenaeus and Philetus, other than the fact that it included false doctrine about the resurrection of the saints (2:18). We do know that Paul condemned two things: (1) ungodly speech and (2) vain, useless speech. He also noted that this kind of speech breeds more sin (2:17). Any speech that God has not authorized is ungodly and therefore, in a real sense, vain profanity (Colossians 3:17; cf. 1 Corinthians 4:6). By studying the Bible, we can know the kinds of speech that please God (see 2 Timothy 2:15; cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Fortunately, we don’t have to wonder about the kinds of speech that displease the Lord, because the Bible writers dealt with the issue. This list of sinful communication isn’t complete, but it’s a good start. Let’s think critically about these concepts, keeping in mind that any support of any ungodly or vain speech is destructive (see Psalm 52:1-4). This is about “laying aside…all evil speaking” (1 Peter 2:1).
Taking the Lord’s name in vain. Modern society treats this as a light matter. Older folks, who remember a cleaner, less perverse mass media, express shock at the amount of times “Oh my God,” or “Jesus Christ” occur as exclamations in new television shows. Despite the frequency with which we hear God’s name tossed around as a joke or offhand interjection, taking the Lord’s name in vain indicates a lack of respect for the Almighty. If we take God’s name in vain, our problem isn’t a lack of words or phrases from which to choose. Our problem is a lack of appreciation for the holiness of God.
When God appeared to Moses from the burning bush to call him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, He said to him: “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground…. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:5,6). In commenting on this passage, Mack Lyon observed: “Holy and reverend is He. Don’t get too close. Don’t be too familiar. Don’t be too casual. God is God. He only is God. ‘Holy and reverend is His name’.” Furthermore,

There is a part of the nature of God that is revealed in the Scriptures that modern man just doesn’t care to know—or to think about. He would much prefer to perceive God as a loving grandpa-type gift-giver, a pal, someone you don’t have to dress up for—you can just go casual—someone who is a jovial good ole boy you can joke with or joke about, someone that just gives you a good feeling about yourself, someone you can kind of treat just about any ole way and he’ll forgive and forget, and it will be all right.

Perhaps this kind of feeling is the reason we forget passages such as these: “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 passage clearly states that the kind of speech under consideration is vain). “And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:12). “For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name” (Luke 1:49). From Jesus: “But I say unto you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne” (Matthew 5:34). Every time we utter the names of God, we should do so with the utmost respect, ensuring that our words are meaningful rather than useless; righteous rather than vain.
i Spain, Carl (1970), The Letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus (Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet). p. 175; cf. p. 131.
ii Thayer, Joseph Henry (1962), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), p. 100.
iii Earl, Ralph (1981), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan). 11:402.
iv Thayer, Joseph Henry (1962), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan). p. 343.
v Coffman, Burton (1986), Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus & Philemon (Abilene, TX: ACU Press). p. 255.
vi Lipscomb, David and J.W. Shepherd (1942), A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate). 5:218.
vii Lyon, Mack (2000), Holy and Reverend is His Name (Huntsville, AL: Publishing Designs). p. 17.
viii Lyon. p. 13.
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