I've wondered how one "takes the name of the Lord God in vain"? I've grown up believing that this is as simple as using God's name when cursing. OMG! Jesus Christ! - have I broken the Commandment then?
According to dictionary.com: "in vain" - without effect or avail; to no purpose
There are many references that appear online when I googled the verse. Most of these center on the behavior of swearing. One swears to testify to the truth of one's statements. It is beyond a statement. And usually, a swear statement is uttered when listeners doubt the veracity of the statement.
I am a graduate of Harvard.
I swear I am a graduate of Harvard.
I swear under oath that I am a graduate of Harvard.
I swear, on my grandmother's grave, that I graduated from Harvard.
I swear, with God as my witness, that I graduated from Harvard. (Or 'so help me God')
I swear, and may God strike me dead if it is not true, that I graduated from Harvard.
The last two statements use God. His Name becomes a testament to the truth of statement. Is this in violation of the commandment? To my opinion, it is not IF that statement is actually true, if that statement has a purpose.
It becomes "vain" if that statement is false. It has no effect or bearing because it is untrue. And this is the biggest offense or dishonor to God's name. One should not dare use His Name to claim a false statement. It is the worst insult and disregard of God. It is a profanity.
In the New Testament, Jesus 'fulfills' this and goes beyond by reiterating that one "should say yes when one means yes and no when one means no". When one is truthful and honest, there is no need for swearing.
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