Taking His Name In Vain


name-in-vainDoesn’t it just irk you when people take the name of the Lord in vain? We have all heard it many times. It happens all the time in a variety of places. Many of us might be sensitive to hearing people drop the name of God like it is nothing. So what does it mean to use the name of the Lord in vain?

Definition of the word vain: producing no result; useless.

“a vain attempt to tidy up the room”

synonyms: futileuselesspointless, to no purpose, hopeless, in vain;ineffective,ineffectualinefficaciousimpotentunavailing, to no avail, fruitless,profitless, unrewardingunproductiveunsuccessfulfailedabortive,for nothing;thwarted, frustrated, foiled;archaicbootless“a vain attempt”

Often we hear at the end of talks, at the end of prayers, or at the end of testimonies those who will close in the name of Jesus. It is actually taught to many people from the time they are little kids to use such language. So what does it mean to do something “in the name” of the Lord? Does it mean that the person believes that he/she is representing the Lord in what we just said, what we just testified of, or whatever act was done in that name? It is basically saying, I am filling in for the Lord right now and this is what He would have said or done if He were here.

That is a powerful idea. Could it be that many people are taking the name of the Lord in vain week after week, and we hear it in the churches and synagogues, and for whatever reason it doesn’t bother people at all? Which is worse, someone misrepresenting the Lord, saying they are acting in His name when they are not, or those who say the name of the Lord as a slur without much thought at all?

Now let’s take this to another level. What about ordinances or rituals performed in the name of the Lord? Every week in many Mormon movements we find those who bless and administer the sacrament. The first line of the sacrament involves asking God, in the name of the Lord, to ratify the ordinance. In both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, we see that Jesus Himself came to bless and administer the sacrament, and THEN He authorized some to administer to others. This ordinance is a sacred one and must be done by one who has authority, and in fact can indeed administer that ordinance in the name of the Lord.

So what is it that gives someone authority in such a thing? Is it when someone is given the priesthood from men? Is it when someone is given the priesthood from God? What must happen for one to be able to administer such an ordinance? Or how about if we speak or testify, how would we know if it was ok to say that we did so in the name of the Lord?

Many people do it flippantly, others love to end testimonies this way, because they believe it gives that testimony more validity. It is a way of saying, “Hey I am serious here. I am saying this in the name of the Lord.” Sometimes people even invoke the titles of the Father, or the Holy Ghost. The power of the tri-fecta! So they are basically saying, if the Father, or Jesus, or the Holy Ghost were here, this is what they would say. I am speaking for them now and representing them on the earth at this time, wow.

THE FALL OF SAUL, IT RHYMES!

How serious is it if people perform ordinances, or works, or speak in the name of the Lord, when the Lord has not told them to perform such ordinances, or speak those words, or perform those works? In the case of Saul, I always felt a little bad for him until I understood what happened. He was in Gilgal. The armies of the Philistines were gathering and preparing to come down and kill him and his army.

Saul knew he needed God’s help, and he knew that performing sacrifices had been commanded to others in the past, and well, Saul had some spiritual authority and thought he would do the Lord’s will and perform the sacrifice. After all, Samuel wasn’t showing up and his troops were scared and being scattered. The punishment from the Lord I always thought was a little odd when Saul’s intentions seemed to be good.

Here are some other verses that I always thought were a little odd from Matthew 7…

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

I think part of what the Lord was teaching here may not always be interpreted correctly. Here is another translation of verse 23 that teaches the point a little more clearly.

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”

What is this lawlessness? It sounds like he is talking about those people who go around using his name, without having been commanded to. It doesn’t matter if they are doing wonderful works, prophesying, casting out devils, or blessing the sacrament. If the Lord has not personally commanded them to do that, then they are practicing lawlessness.

It does seem a bit harsh doesn’t it? How about the phrase “I never knew you.” What does that mean? Could it be that Jesus was saying something like, “Hey guys, you went around doing all sorts of stuff in my name, as if you could represent me and were acting in my behalf, but I didn’t even know you guys! I didn’t tell you to do those things. I didn’t commission you…”

So I am wondering if it is possible for someone to go through life, sincerely striving to be righteous, believing they are doing the Lord’s will, when in all actuality they are drinking damnation to their souls week after week. In the Book of Mormon it warns that those who partake of the sacrament unworthily, are eating/drinking damnation to their souls. Most people don’t equate worthiness to having been commanded directly, but could it be that is part of the condition of one’s worthiness?

HAS THE LORD TOLD YOU TO DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING?

I guess I would like to ask people reading, “When have you been commanded to take the sacrament? When were you told that you could administer the sacrament? Do you believe that holding the priesthood (if you have been given any priesthood from God) gives you the authority to perform ordinances, without having the Lord specifically telling you to perform such ordinances?”

Some people when asked questions like this turn to the Bible, or Book of Mormon, or other parts of their sacred texts, and say, “Look right here, this is where we are commanded to do this…” When I point out that Jesus was actually talking to other people at a totally different time period, they think I am the weirdo for suggesting the commandment does not apply to them… They use the same argument many protestant church leaders use. “The Bible is my authority. The Bible is the word of God!”

I used to laugh at preachers who talked like that. Only recently did I learn I was doing the same thing in so many ways! I have used the sacrament as an example because of some things I have personally learned about the meaning of the sacrament. Jesus spoke to certain disciples and this is another way, in my opinion, of summarizing what he said. “Here I am giving you my name, my body and blood, and giving you power to be like me and do things in my name.” Then he commanded them to go do the same things for others.

JOHN’S BAPTISM

When John the Baptist was baptizing, he did not tell people to go take the sacrament afterward. In the accounts of him coming to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, he conferred the preparatory priesthood, told them to be baptized, but he did not mention anything about taking the sacrament afterward. Could it be there was more to the disciples both in Jerusalem, and on the American Continent being baptized when Christ came, even though they had been baptized before? Is it correct to call it “re-baptism,” or was it a new / higher baptism? Could it be there is a baptism of John, or the lower priesthood, and there is a completely separate baptism of the higher priesthood? From Acts 19…

3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

So again we see a differentiation here. John the Baptist, according to the accounts we have, mentioned the “gospel of repentance” when he came to Joseph and Oliver. That is very similar to what we see from Paul. Is this different from the baptism of Christ, where people are commanded afterward to partake of the sacrament? I personally believe that many churches have the authority to baptize unto repentance, but this is “John’s baptism.” All people will have to be baptized with the baptism which Jesus offers by one having the name of Christ, the fullness of the higher priesthood.

I do not believe there is a person with the fullness of the high priesthood on the earth. I do not believe there is a person that has the power to lay hands on the head of another to bestow the Holy Ghost as Paul did in the verses above. I believe right now those who receive the Holy Ghost (which are not that many IMO) receive it through angelic ministration or from the Lord personally.

I believe many people are going about doing “wonderful works” in the name of the Lord, with zero instruction from the Lord to perform the ordinances they are performing. I have no doubt that many readers have blessed and administered the sacrament, or performed baptisms, or other such ordinances. I certainly have. I won’t do it again and use the name of the Lord in vain. I will not say it at the end of a testimony unless told to do so by revelation.

The goal is to reach the point where we can do all things in the name of the Lord. At least it is one of my goals. I believe it is possible. I believe first we must receive the name of the Lord. If God spoke to me or you and said “Be ye therefore perfect…” then God would give power to whomever He spoke it to, to literally fulfill that commandment and the individual would be perfected. God has power to fulfill His words. Those who go about using the Lord’s name in things, who have not be chosen and ordained, may be practicing lawlessness.

John 15:16 – Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

John 15:7 – If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

8 Responses

  1. I Tim,
    I enjoyed the mental gymnastics this article gave me. I have long felt that the taking of the Lord’s name in vain did not necessarily refer to those times people profane or cuss, but when they use the Lord’s name to further their own purposes or to make themselves look good, or to seem what they are not. Ministers and preachers who wear the “cloth” or robes of the priesthood are looked to as bonefide representatives of Christ. They, therefore, are in position to further personal or corporate agendas without the followers being disturbed or aware of the snares that are being created.
    I’m not sure I agree with all your points of what constitutes the taking of the Lord’s name in vain, though, such as at the end of prayers or testimonies. For, in praying we are to come to the Father in Jesus name, because he is our intermediary. We cannot come to the Father but through Christ. Hence we make our petitions in the name of Jesus who covers our weakness and our unworthiness and takes our petitions to the Father. As unworthy creatures we are not able to expect the Father to consider our petitions, except for what Christ accomplished in our behalf.
    There is that scripture which speaks of Christ telling men that they have done many mighty and good works in his name, but in the end he will say he never knew them has to do more with pride and lack of personal worthiness on the part of those who presumed to use Christ’s name to further their own agendas for their own vainglory.
    Such as we find with those in leadership positions who use Christ’s name as God’s stamp of approval for their monetary and business dealings and cause no one to become alarmed at the misuse of funds and so on.

    Jesus warned that “Many will come in my name, saying I am Christ, and deceive many.” We need to ask how it is that this will deceive many? There is a comma in most scripture references which cause people to think that many are going to come in Christ’s name and say that they themselves are Christ. That is what most people undestand it to mean. They can’t fathom that anyone would use Christ’s name and cause anyone to be deceived thereby.
    See the difference between this commonly understood verse with the comma as it stands in the KJV of the Bible: “Many will come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and deceive many.”

    Those who are suppose to be watchmen, who are looked to as prophets, who speak as if they have God’s sanction to speak, and people follow them because they believe they are in position as prophets– when God has not directly called them– are cause to be deceived. He doesn’t say some will be deceived, but many will. People become deceived because they don’t believe the truth because those using Christ’s name aren’t delivering the whole truth. They allow people to believe they are speaking for God when they are only speaking out of their own hearts.
    I believe those who use God’s name in vain are those who allow people to believe they are prophets when they have actually heard no word from God, nor have they received their call under the hand of Christ. They have assumed the position by seniority and impressions.

    They could be classified as those who profess his name but hear him not, such as referred to in D&C 41:1–
    “Hearken and hear, O ye my people, saith the Lord and our God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings, ye that hear me; and ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heaviest of all cursings.”
    Those receive the heaviest cursings because they used Christ’s name in vain, when they assumed the role of prophets.

    We are told of the judgments that begin on the earth:
    “And upon my house shll it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; first among those among you saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed me aginast me in the midst of my house.” D&C 112: 24

    They have not blasphemed in the manner of speaking irreverantly, but in the sense they have reviled against teachings and truths which ought not to have been done away with, or against truths today which would have alerted people to their duty to throw off the chains being forged around them by corrupt political powers, and against former teachings which instituted by God. Blaspheme also means to “abuse.” How many members have been abused in the sense of being cast out for not bowing to the idol position of prophet? How much abuse of power has their been in the use of unrighteous dominion?

    You asked when was it that we were commanded to take the sacrament? Well, that is all through the D&C, and Book of Mormon after Christ appeared to the Nephites. We are commanded to meet together often, and to take the sacrament in remembrance of his sacrifice that his spirit will always be with us. We are testifying to the father, not to others, by doing so.
    That is not using Christ’s name in vain. It’s a sign that we are remembering to keep Christ’s commandments. I think the administring of it, and the taking of it without much thought is a vain thing, however, and to our condemnation.
    Also, I believe the sacrament itself has been changed, as per water for wine, sitting instead of kneeling, etc. But it’s really the heart that matters to God. He said it matters not what we eat or drink for the sacrment, so it’s like straining at gnats to niggle over such things.
    Since it was Joseph Smith who received the revelations in how to do these things, which pattern has continued to this day, I don’t think this can be classified as taking the Lord’s name in vain. Once God institutes a pattern of action in the church, does he have to keep repeating it to each new generation? We were given the Ten commandments by Moses and yet we continue to keep them today, as well the teachings of Christ, and other commandments given to various prophets through the ages.

    Jesus said it is a slothful and not a wise servant who must be commanded in all things. If one has God’s spirit, he is told to do many good things of his own free will. I don’t believe that giving talks or tesitmonies in Christ’s name classifies as taking his name in vain. It is a sort of benediction on one’s feelings that were expressed, in Christ’s name. Just as we are commanded to pray in Christ’s name. It is, I feel, an honor paid to Christ, that we bear our testimony of truths, in his name.

    Now, saying one knows that Jesus is the Christ, and knows that so and so is a prophet, and knows that the church is true–when they really only emotionally feel it is so,and they are merely saying repetitious things because every one does, perhaps that could be classified as vain.

    But, I believe taking the Lord’s name in vain has more to do with building up a big corporate church in order to get gain and praise of the world, using Christ’s name as badge of approval, is more in line with taking his name in vain. Such as the Watchmen giving the Lord’s money to the exchangers when it was a time of peace, instead of building a hedge around the vineyard by keeping to the doctrines of Christ and warning when the enemy was approaching. Presuming to be God’s spokesmen, and yet seeking favor with metpahorical Pharaoh of a latter-day Egyptian empire in order to retain all monetary holdings is more in line with taking the Lord’s name in vain.
    For God’s spokesmen seeking to maintain a stance of neutrality in an increasingly wicked world and caving in to political pressures–well, that is not representative of the Christ who threw the money changers out of the temple for charging unfair dues to the poor for the sacrificial animals.
    It is taking Christ’s name in vain when members pridefully believe they serve Christ, because they do their home teaching and attend their meetings, and do all that the bishop asks of them, when their hearts are actually far from Christ even though their lips profess to know him.

    For some reason judgments will begin at the house of God and go forth to the rest of the earth
    50: 4, 112:26. First among those who professed to know him and did not.

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  2. Jeanette,

    Thanks for the great thoughts. I agree with most of them. One thing though I was asking is when someone might have been asked/commanded to bless or administer the sacrament personally.
    Pointing to the Book of Mormon or doctrine and covenants to show where other people were commanded is what I was saying others usually do to justify what they are doing. I don’t point to where God commanded Joshua to take out cities and kill everyone in them to say God has commanded me to do that…
    And as far as doing good of ourselves. Well, I don’t think that is possible. I don’t think any goodness comes from mortals, but rather God working through them. Also going about performing ordinances without being commanded, and doing so in the name of The Lord would not fall into that category of doing good. That would fall into a different category. After all people have been put to death by God (according to the bible) for doing ordinances either in the wrong way, or without authority. So what would be the outcome of people blessing and administering the sacrament without authority, or even with authority but not being asked to do so? That is why I am curious of all those who have blessed and administered the sacrament whether God has actually ever told them to do such a thing or if they just assumed they could for some reason…

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    • You’re right about goodness not coming from ourselves, but of God working through us. But still, he does use the talents we freely give, that he has blessed us with, and we still have our own thoughts and minds which motivate us to choose to do good.

      Not being a male priesthood holder I don’t know if my further comments will exactly answer your question about receiving commandment directly from God to administer the sacrament.
      .And you don’t need to print this, as I tend to get kind of long-winded.Your thoughts just stimulated me to study about this and raised some thoughts.

      I have presumed that being ordained under man’s hand, in the manner prescribed in the D&C constituted “authority” to bless and administer the sacrament. If you believe the words in D&C 20, which give the duties of the various members of the priesthood: “And it is his calling to baptize (the elders) and to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons…” vs. 29 and lists all their various duties. Which duties I see being carried out today, as far as the sacrament goes.
      I see it as like a husband and wife sort of relationship, where the husband follows inspiration or his own thoughts even, and delegates authority to his wife to act in his absence in various capacities..
      The father doesn’t have to be there, because he knows he has a worthy helpmate to carry out the responsibilities that need to be done when he is not around to do the delegating or teaching.

      I would think it would be rather a lot of work to have to have Christ personally
      come in person and command someone to administer the sacrament to every ward and stake in the world.

      The D&C 20: 60 says every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon is to “be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him.”
      One would have to presume, then that the person doing the ordaining had the power of the Holy Ghost.
      That doesn’t sound like receiving the command directly at the hand of Jesus, does it, but from the power of the Holy Ghost?

      This whole section seems to clearly state how all the offices of the priesthood are to operate and none of it says that Christ must command the officiators personally.

      Perhaps if/when things are restored as they ought to be–since it’s obvious from this section of the D&C that the deacons and priests and elders, as compared to the scriptures are not doing things according to the outline.

      The disciples at the time of Moroni recorded the record were said to have power to lay hands on “whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost,” and so on. Moroni 2:3
      So it stands to reason the same would apply as to administering the sacrament.
      It says they ordained priests, teachers and so on, “according to the gifts and callings of God to men…” Mor. 3:4
      If men are clean and worthy, I would suppose God’s power would work through them, as God had delegated in his “upline.”

      You’re saying that unless a priesthood holder has been called directly under the hand of Christ, he doesn’t have authority or call to adminster the sacrament? That would kind of do away with anyone, these days, ever having the sacrament administered or delivered to them, wouldn’t you say?
      At least how things stand in the LDS church at present, with them casting out anyone who says they have had a face-to-face experience with Christ?
      Kind of a weird, scarey thought.
      I prefer to believe that the church still has some form of authority. Not sure at this point how much is recognized as valid, though.

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      • I believe the LDS church has the authority to baptize unto repentance. In the post I wrote I was attempting to show that baptism has not always been linked to the sacrament, and according to the Book of Mormon and bible, Jesus always came to administer the sacrament, and then give others the authority to do the same.
        I was not asking if someone has had Jesus come to them necessarily. I was simply asking if someone has even received revelation, in any way, telling them to perform the sacrament. I have seen women bless the sacrament now too which is interesting. When I witnessed it I didn’t feel the woman had any less authority than the guy who did the other half of the sacrament.
        It seems very clear in the bible that ordinances are not to be taken lightly. Let’s say a “prophet” tells me to administer the sacrament, but I receive no witness from the Holy Ghost that I should. Um, no thanks prophet guy, i remember the story in 1 Kings 13 when the man of a God was eaten by a lion because he listened to a prophet without checking with God. So I don’t care if Moses, Elijah, Noah and Peter show up and say to administer the sacrament. Unless the Holy Ghost confirms it to me I would say no thanks guys.
        I know this seems a little extreme but mostly I was just wondering if there was anyone that could even claim they have been told by revelation to administer the sacrament or if we have all just assumed that is what we are supposed to do. Also I believe a man might have the authority to do something, but that does not mean he is supposed to do it unless God commands. Just some thoughts I have been having recently.

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  3. Minority, thank you for your thoughts here. I have also pondered whether signing off a talk or testimony with “in the name of Jesus Christ” was taking the the Lord’s name in vain. Especially since it usually is mumbled quickly and mindlessly just before one walks away from the pulpit. And for me sitting in the back, it’s my cue to wake up and pay attention.

    I do appreciate your view on the difference in baptisms – I had not ever considered that. Certainly makes sense to me.

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  4. This excerpt is from a prophet/writer who has seen our day. Quite revealing:

    3. Now, as I have said, I have seen your day and your doing in a vision given me of the Lord and through the Holy Ghost. Wherefore, I know the intent of the hearts of men who govern and rule this fair land in your day is not the same as in mine. Yea, in the last days, men shall have forgotten the blessing and curse that is laid upon this land. They shall forget the covenants of God and they shall begin to follow the dictates of their own hearts. Behold, they shall wrest and twist the commandments of God and they shall forget to acknowledge Him in all things.
    4. And also those who think to govern this church, they too shall begin to do so with an eyesingle to the appeasement of men and not to the pleasing of their Maker. They think that by the satisfying men and rulers they will not be troubled by them. Behold, I say unto you, and hearken unto my voice all of youwho are of my household and do recive these things which I have written unto you. All they who seek the pleasure of men, hoping to appease them, shall be troubled by them all the more.

    And this appropo teaching…

    ” 40. The priest is not the priesthood. Nay, and the high priest is not the priesthood. It is that specific word of God that comes to the individual by and through the Holy Ghost that conveys the commission to the heart and soul of a man or woman.
    41. And behold, when this commission is come unto the soul of a person, they come to the priest or to the high priest, and they request a blessing of them to confirm by token and by the laying on of hands of that which has been received of the Lord. And the priest or high priest shall give whatever words of prophecy or counsel to which the Holy Ghost may give utterance, and this becomes a witnessand an assistance to the individual to fulfilling that commission whereby the Lord has called them…
    43. Behold, the priesthood of God is a serious matter and we do not trifle with it. It is not given to any person without the clear and certain commission of the Lord, And this commission comes to a person by and through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

    I believe we can all bring the Holy Ghost into the picture of taking its name in vain. Everyone it seems uses the Spirit or the HolyGhost rather casually and what commission have you received?

    Thanks MinofOne for bringing up ponderable subject matter. We are to use our searching and ask questions that are hard to answer. We need to seek all over the earth for answers…and they are available if we venture out of our belief systen and seek other elements of truth.

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  5. When we are baptized, we take upon ourselves the name of Christ and renew that covenant with the Sacrament. I think when we live our lives without any thought to Christ’s will, we have taken His name in vain….our baptism has not done us any good. If we take the sacrament more out of habit, without real intent to remember Christ, we have taken it in vain…it has not done us any good and can actually be damning to our souls.

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    • James

      Thanks for the comment. Your comment makes a lot of assumptions. I agree that people have been baptized in the name of Jesus. 3 Nephi is very clear on this. Yet then we have the baptism of John that I mentioned. When John came to oliver and joseph and suggested they be baptized, did they baptize each other using the language of 3 Nephi? Did they use words at all? Or under john the baptists direction was it something else?
      Also I do not understand where people get the idea that taking the sacrament is a renewal of baptismal covenants. Would you mind sharing with me why you believe that? Is it from revelation or from the scriptures? Because everything I have learned suggests that the sacrament is not a renewal of baptismal covenants, but that is just my current understanding so I would appreciate hearing how you came to that conclusion…

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