“And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, which they hallow unto me, and that they profane not my holy name....” (Lev. 22:2).
Hatefulness toward Jehovah is so common in our society, that many people have no clear definition of what it is. In short, blasphemy is to speak defamatory words against God or to slander him. It can be verbal, written or even acted out. Blasphemy is the act of showing gross disrespect toward God. It is an arrogant rejection of God’s majesty and authority. It falls under the command of the Decalogue which said, “Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain...” (Ex. 20:7). To avoid falling into condemnation for this sin, Jesus taught us to “hallow” God’s name (Luke 11:2).
In his rebellion, sinful man feels embolden to defy his Creator. Like a wicked, rebellious child who rails against his parents’ authority, the rebellious sinner blasphemes his divine Master. In their defiance, some take God’s name in vain by carelessly using it as slang, showing it no respect . Others blaspheme by mixing it with their cursing, swearing and invectives. Others blaspheme God by speaking and promoting, in his sacred name, religious doctrines and practices that are contrary to His revealed will. By sprinkling their message with large doses of God’s name, they hope to give it credibility and persuade their audience to accept it as God’s will! Some foolish people blaspheme God by making silly, disrespectful jokes about God or by drawing hateful cartoons about Him. Others blaspheme by writing and singing worldly songs that take His name in vain. Yet others blaspheme by attributing vile or evil things to God.
Scripture makes it abundantly clear that blasphemers have a dreary and painful future before them. In our society, laws restricting behavior are passed, only to be ignored and broken. Often authorities refuse to enforce them. Attorney generals, refuse to indict them and judges refuse to convict them. God, however, is not slack in enforcing his law. Moses records an event where Israelite man was involved in a fight with a neighbor. In the combat, he “blasphemed the Name, and cursed.” He was brought before Moses for trial and the decision was, “Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp...and let all the congregation stone him.” He then reminded the children of Israel, “Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of Jehovah, he shall surely be put to death...” (Lev. 24:10-16).
Despite the above example, many of the Hebrews were careless in their speech and behavior. Ezekiel reports that , God reproved them saying “and when they came unto the nations, whither they went, they profaned my holy name” (Ezek. 36:20).
When our Lord walk the earth he warned his hearers “For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings: these are the things which defile the man...” (Matt. 15:19). Railing against God is blasphemous. He warned against blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28-29). James wrote of those who blaspheme the holy name we wear, which of course is that of Christ (James 2:7). Paul encouraged Christian women to of their conduct lest the “word of God” be blasphemed (Tit. 2:5). Hymenaeus and Alexander were preachers whom Paul “Delivered unto Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme” (I Tim. 1:20). Isaiah tells us that idolatry is considered to be blasphemous in God’s sight (65:7). Boys who fall into the bad practice of taking God’s name in vain, swearing, cursing, blaspheming will often carefully conceal their conduct from the parents, especially their mothers. They need to be reminded that God hears every such insult to his name. “Ye have magnified yourselves against me with your mouth, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard it!...I will make thee desolate” (Ezek.35:13-14).
When discussing the Christian’s use of his mouth James says, “Out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing, My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (James 3:10). There are some things that make us vulnerable to the sin of blasphemy. When people are impaired by drugs or alcohol their moral restraint is weakened and wicked words flow from their lips. Those who allow their anger to rage often resort to swearing and cursing. Those who fail to reverence God at all times are more likely to blaspheme. Those who associate with the wicked can pick up their bad habit of swearing and blaspheming. Paul exhorts us to put away “anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth ...seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed ...” (Col.3:8-10).
While Christ included the prohibition of blasphemy in his New Covenant, he did not attach the penalty of death to it. His teaching and his church were designed for all men and all nations, whereas Moses applied it to the Hebrews whose nation was a theocracy under Jehovah. If death were the penalty for blasphemy today, the American population would soon be greatly reduced! ! Although the imposition of death has been removed, we will stand before the judgement bar of Christ and received the things done in this life (II Cor. 5:10). Blasphemers will have to answer for taking God’s name in vain.
Every preacher and teacher must remind those whom he teaches of the dangers of taking God’s name in vain. Christians must beware lest the influence of the wicked world, numb our conscience and we become careless in the use of God’s holy name (I Cor. 15:33). Never forget, God will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
By John Waddey
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