Christians the world over have been threatening their children and grandchildren with punishment if they so much as think about saying “Oh my God!” These Christians couldn’t be more misguided.
“You are not to use my name to deceive, thereby defiling the name of your God. I am the Lord.” -Leviticus 19:12 ISV
Taking the Lord’s name in vain isn’t about using God’s name as a swear word or saying “OMG.” You take the Lord’s name, using His name, in vain, (Leviticus 19:12) when you claim to be His child, grafted into the vine, (Romans 11:11-22) a believer of Christ, but your fruit, (Matthew 7:15-20) your works show that you don’t belong to him.
I take my husband’s name because we are one family. I take God’s name because I am His adopted child. (Ephesians 1:5) If I am not married to my husband, I don’t get to take his name. Likewise, if I’m not God’s child, I don’t get to take His name by calling myself a Christian.
Legally, I could change my last name to pretend that I had a relationship with anyone (for example, if I changed my last name to “Kardashian,”) but I’d be taking that name in vain. I have no relationship with the Kardashians, so I’d be taking the name in vain – clearly using it on false pretenses to increase my standing among other people.
The Pharisees constantly bragged about being Abraham’s seed and the “chosen people” and children of God. (Galatians 3:29) Jesus Himself accused them of taking God’s name in vain as He said they were of their father, the Devil. (John 8)
“You are doing your father’s actions.” They told him, “We’re not illegitimate children. We have one Father, God himself.”
“Jesus told them, ‘If God were your Father, you would’ve loved me, because I came from God and am here. I haven’t come on my own accord, but he sent me. Why don’t you understand what I’ve said? It’s because you can’t listen to my words. You belong to your father the Devil, and you want to carry out the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and has never stood for truth, since there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies…'” -John 8:41-44 ISV
It is important to note that taking God’s name in vain is a sin, like all sins, that begins in the heart. When a person takes God’s name in vain, he first rejects God in his heart, but verbalizes his approval of and connection with God to bring himself glory.
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is those things that make a person unclean. It is out of the heart that evil thoughts come, as well as murder, adultery, sexual immorality, stealing, false testimony, and slander.” -Matthew 15:18-19 ISV
If you want to honor God and make sure that you’re not taking His name in vain, make sure that your actions, your fruit, your works, testify to the fact that you are God’s child. Don’t honor God with your lips only – make sure your actions show who you really are.
“Then the Lord said: “Because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, worship of me has become merely like rules taught by human beings.” – Isaiah 29:13 ISV (referenced in Matthew 15:8)
TL;DR – “Faking my name for personal gain, is taking a name in vain. ”