October 1971

Gods Name In Vain

Robert F. Turner

Then certain of the vagabond Jews exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19: 13-16)

If the exorcist of our day, who attach the name of Jesus to their unauthorized practices, were to receive like treatment — wow! Current TV healing programs would really get a high rating, as millions tuned in to watch the healer get his due.

Our text is an example of someone taking the Lords name in vain — using it in an empty and vain sense, although there is no indication of what we might call cursing. These seven sons of Sceva simply acted upon their own initiative, sought to do their own thing, but attached to it the name of Jesus. Apparently the power of that name had gained quite a reputation (Acts 4: 7-12) among the people, as Paul went about confirming the word with signs following. (Mk. 16:20) And, as today, the Sceva boys plucked the healing aspect of Pauls work, got the words right, but completely missed the point in it all. Jesus was not just a formula with Paul. There can be no legitimate separation of that name from the revealed plan of salvation in Him.

When Philip preached Christ he taught people to be subject to the authority of Christ, to respect Him as the source of power and salvation in this dispensation, and to be baptized into Christ. (Acts 8:5, 12) These are specifics — a far cry from the highly generalized do good and love that has been fostered upon people today as Jesus doctrine. We have no right to offer less nor more in Jesus name that He Himself offered, or authorized offered. To do so is to use His name in vain.

Jesus said, 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. To those who expect to profit in judgement through their own brand of service, Jesus has said, 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? And the will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt. 7:21-23)

Iniquity is translated from the Greek anomian or lawlessness. It refers to those who have no respect for authority, or laws of God. One may never speak profanity, and yet act profanely, and compound the error by using Gods name as though He approved of the unauthorized action. It is presumptuous sin to assign God that which did not come from Him. (Deut. 18:20, etc.)

It is no light thing to use and live up to the name of Jesus Christ.