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Commandment number three of the Ten Commandments tells us not to take God's name in vain. The words in vain mean "empty, idle, insincere, or frivolous." So to take God's name in vain means to say it in a way that is empty, idle, insincere, or frivolous. And one of the most obvious ways this is done is through the use of profanity.
We all have heard people use the name of Jesus to punctuate a point. I have even said to people who do this, "Be careful. He might answer you some time." Interestingly, I never hear the names of various religious leaders or so-called gurus being used when someone is angry or upset.
So why do people, including avowed atheists, use the name Jesus Christ in this way? I believe that in their hearts, they know there is power in that holy name. Sure, they are taking it in vain. They are violating the third commandment. But in a way, they are acknowledging the existence of God. Otherwise, why invoke the name of a God you don't believe in? Why say the name of a person you don't think ever existed? Why say His name? Because there is power in that name. And when you say it, people pay attention.
Philippians 2:9-11 reminds us, "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
The name of Jesus has power. God wants us as His followers to never take His name in vain, but to honor it instead.
Excerpted from "The Name with Power" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).