Almost everyone has said “Oh My God” or some other variant of the same in conversation. We almost always say it subconsciously without giving it much thought. But if you start thinking about it, you will most likely be left wondering whether you should be using the phrase in the first place.
When you say “Oh, My God”, you are using the name of God in a way that is not reverential. The Bible forbids using God’s names in vain. As such, using the phrase “Oh, My God” to express surprise or some other feeling is sinful.
Understanding God’s Name
The modern church uses God’s name too usually because we do not understand the history of God’s name. When Moses asked God about his name, God answered by saying his name was I, AM. In Hebrew, the name is Yahweh although it was spelt without the vowels. Since it would be difficult to pronounce the name without the vowels (YHWH), it was transliterated to Jehovah.
The tetragrammaton (a technical term for the four-letter word, YHWH) is derived from the Hebrew word that means “being.” Spending on the context, the name YHWH could mean “I am who I am” or “I will be what I will be.” This means that God is self-sufficient and self-existing. It means that all living beings are dependent on him and that he is not dependent on anyone or anything. This explains why the teachers of the law in the time of Jesus were not amused when Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” To them, Jesus was not only using the name of God in vain but he was also equating himself to God and they therefore accused him of blasphemy.
Using God’s Name in Vain
It is worth noting that the Hebrew scribes considered the name of God too sacred to pronounce or write. This explains why the name was originally written without vowels – they believed the name shouldn’t even be pronounced. Most of the scribes would replace the name Yahweh with the name Adonai, which means Lord or Master. This practice was adopted by most Bible translators and that is why the name Yahweh was translated as LORD (all caps) in most English Bibles.
This explains why the third commandment forbade God’s people from using the name of the LORD in vain.
Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the Lord your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name. Exodus 20:7
In this commandment, a couple of important truths are communicated.
First, God’s name is not to be used for any evil purpose. Using God’s name for evil purposes is also translated as “using it in vain.” So, when you say ‘Oh my God’ when talking about something mundane, you will be guilty of using God’s name in vain. If you use the phrase in vulgar contexts, you will be guilty of using God’s name for an evil purpose.
Even companies or celebrities understand the importance of preserving their name. If you try to use the name of a known brand in a way that does not reflect its values, you will most likely be sued for it. For instance, George Clooney and Julia Roberts recently sued some companies that were using their names to sell products without the actors’ consent.
Secondly, God made it clear that anyone who uses his name vainly will not be guiltless. To put it plainly, they should expect God’s punishment. But even before God unleashes his punishment, the person who uses the name vainly will already have diminished God in his heart. By so doing, the fear of God will start ebbing away and before you know it, the God that once mesmerized you will start appearing like any other god. And that might just be worse than any other punishment.
You should always remember that God’s name is holy and should, therefore, not be used in idle chatter. Just like the olden scribes demonstrated, Yahweh should be sanctified in our hearts and mouths as a holy name that should only mentioned in reverence.
Is the Third Commandment Relevant in the New Testament?
Some people argue that they can say “Oh My God” as much as they want because they are no longer under the law. While it is true that we are no longer under the law, it is still no excuse for disrespecting God’s law. Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. So, before you throw away the baby and the bathwater, it is worth considering the benefits of reverencing God’s name.
Also, Jesus echoed the importance of not using God’s name in vain. When teaching his disciples to pray, he told them to open their prayer by saying, “Our father who is heaven, Hallowed be your name. ” (Matthew 6:9). To hallow means to hold in high esteem and regard. It means to reverence his name.
In another place, Jesus also forbade swearing. He told his fellows to let their yes be yes and their nos to be nos without swearing by God’s throne or by any other creation. In a way, he was reminding them to honor God by not misusing God’s name. To put it plainly, it is not true that the commandment to not use God’s name falsely is only relevant in the Old Covenant. It is also just as relevant in the New Testament.
In conclusion, the question of whether saying “Oh, My God” is a sin involves a consideration of religious and moral perspectives. Using God’s name in vain, as expressed in phrases like this, violates the third commandment in the Bible, which forbids using the name of the LORD for evil or trivial purposes.
While some may argue that these commands are obsolete in the New Testament, Jesus emphasized the importance of holding God’s name in high regard and discouraged swearing, underlining the need for truthfulness. Therefore, the principle of not using God’s name falsely remains relevant in the New Testament.