Structural Lie #3: Recognizing the Creative Power of Our Words
Updated: Feb 19
This is the fourth post in a series on UNCOVERING THE TOP TEN STRUCTURAL LIES. God wants to uncover wrong beliefs, structural lies, which will compromise the integrity of our spiritual house. These lies must be identified, repaired through repentance, and replaced with truth. To read the first post, “Inspect Your Life for Structural Lies,” click here. For the second post, “Uncovering Structural Lie #1 and Replacing it with God’s Truth,” click here. For the third post, "Digging Up Structural Lie #2 and Worshiping God in Spirit and Truth," click here.
Words are powerful.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” must have been dreamed up by a well-meaning parent attempting to counter the hateful bullying of their child, but it’s rubbish. As any grown-up child can tell you, which is all of us, words can remain embedded in us for life, unless we deal with them.
Do you still carry hurtful words?
The third commandment in Exodus 20:7 says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” NIV
I’m going to show you a couple of other translations so you can capture the full meaning. Here’s the Message version: “No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.”
The Amplified version gives us the fullest picture: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, irreverently, in false affirmations or in ways that impugn the character of God]; for the Lord will not hold guiltless nor leave unpunished the one who takes His name in vain [disregarding its reverence and its power].”
Let’s look at three areas concerning this third commandment: 1) why our words are important, 2) why our words must agree with the nature and character of God, and 3) the consequences of not taking this commandment seriously.
Why Our Words are Important
The third structural lie deals with the power of our words.
What we choose to speak into the atmosphere carries unfathomable weight, the creative force of which can change lives and the course of nations. Our words not only affect us, the people inhabiting this earth, but our words impact the spiritual realm. Not just our prayers matter; all our words have creative power – for either life or death.
Our words can devastate or give life. “The tongue has the power of life and death...” Proverbs 18:21 NIV
The Bible tells us God SPOKE all of creation into existence. Now that’s power! He said “let there be..” and there was. We are made in the image of God and our words also are a creative force.
It’s our super power.
When our words agree with God’s words, heaven and earth are moved.
So, why is it important to use God’s name correctly? What is the broader spiritual principle of this third commandment? What is the structural lie which can totally derail our lives and cause us to risk God’s wrath?
Structural Lie #3:
I have the right to free speech.
Not true. As a Christian, we voluntarily submit our rights to God. We belong to Him and have been bought with a high price. Our rights under the laws of our nation and our rights under God are two different matters. We answer to a higher power.
When we commit our lives to God by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we surrender all rights, laying down our legal rights to live as we please and speak as we wish. He asks me to present my body as a living sacrifice to Him. (Romans 12:1) I give him all of me – body, soul, spirit.
This includes my mouth!
When my words about God line up with Truth, so will my words about everything else.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites did not have the Holy Spirit living inside them to help them walk out the life God desired for them. The Law was God’s standard for human behavior, and this has not changed. Just because the legal laws of the land don’t condemn certain behaviors, like adultery, coveting, or dishonoring your parents, doesn’t mean God has changed His mind about these. Regardless of their legal status, sin is still sin.
The Ten Commandments are often viewed as the “Thou shalt nots.” But the spiritual truth behind their negative structure points toward God’s positive intent for humankind. So what is the positive intent of this commandment not to take God’s name in vain?
Why Our Words Must Agree with God
Our original sinful nature, which all of us inherit from Adam and Eve, naturally desires to assault the nature and character of God. As unredeemed humans, we desire to bring Him down to our level, devalue Him, and even ridicule His majesty. The enemy of our souls, the devil, applauds and encourages us in this pursuit. Even as Christians, we still have free will to allow our words to tear down God and others.
We must choose to speak life and let our words agree with who God is.
God’s name represents His totality – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He has many names in the Bible: The Great I Am. Lord God Almighty. The Ancient of Days. Jesus Christ. The Messiah. Prince of Peace. Jehovah. Immanuel. Alpha and Omega. The Lion of Judah. Counselor. Advocate. The list could go on for pages.
To use His name carelessly and without respect is unacceptable to Him. To utter His name as a curse or oath is dangerous, speaking death, bondage, affliction, and evil over others, and linking the holy name of God with all that is unholy. When we use His name in anger, we literally invoke the power of His name and pronounce damnation over someone.
Releasing an oath into the atmosphere affronts the nature and character of God.
God forbids us to use His name in that manner.
Conversely, when our words agree with God’s words, the result is LIFE, abundant joy, sacred beauty, creative design, and divine breakthrough. The mundane morphs into magic. The ordinary flares into extraordinary. We literally break out of this natural realm and begin to walk in the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
Agreement with God explodes with promise!
Consequences of Breaking the Third Commandment
The final part of the third commandment shows us just how serious God is about our words: “…for the Lord will not hold guiltless nor leave unpunished the one who takes His name in vain [disregarding its reverence and its power].” Exodus 20:7 AMP
How we speak about someone reveals our relationship with that person.
Our words, and how we use God’s name, reveals the state of our love connection with Him…or not. Whatever spews from our mouth exposes our hearts, and either lays bare our depravity or reveals our sincere desire to please God.
Jesus spoke this to the Pharisees: “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:24 NKJV (Emphasis added)
If I want to know the state of my heart, I need to listen to what comes out of my mouth.
If my words are continually negative, critical, unkind, insecure, angry, and if I’m using God’s name carelessly (yes, I’m guilty of using OMG in social posts and am convicted to quit) or maliciously, then I must check the condition of my heart. Something is amiss there.
God said He would punish us if we take His name in vain, so repenting is the only way to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. The consequences of continuing to allow our words to dishonor the nature and character of God are dire. Not only will God judge us, but our words have the power to tear down everything near and dear to us: marriages, children, careers, churches, lives.
Destruction could run deep when our tongues are unleashed and unbridled.
We must repent and replace this structural lie with Truth:
My heart and my words belong to God.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalms 19:14 NKJV
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Photo Credit: Bethany Pepin