Curing “Oh My Goodness!”

We are appreciative to Pastor Jon Gleason for writing the following article which is a follow-on to a previous post on taking the Lord’s name in vain. May this be a profit to you in your life. Jon has graciously given us permission to use his articles here at Defending Contending and this one is certainly very timely.

***************

Curing “Oh My Goodness!”

Mark Escalera at Defending. Contending. ran (with permission) my post, “OMG” — and Other Ways Christians Take God’s Name in Vain (this continues to be, by far, my most shared post).  In the comments at DefCon someone said she has tried to break the habit of saying, “Oh my goodness!”

This also is something Christians might say from time to time that has no real profit, is often just a “sanctified swearing substitute,” and is highly dubious theologically as well:

Philippians 3:9

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

So much for “my goodness” — that pretty much covers it, doesn’t it?  The only “goodness” we have is the goodness of God, so He is our goodness, our righteousness.  What exactly do the words “oh my goodness” mean, for a Christian?  If you say this, your words are not saying what you mean by them….

It seems this is another expression we really could do without.  It isn’t something I ever said a lot, but I became convinced a while ago that I would be best looking to stop.  As with most things we want to do to please our Lord, Scripture provides some help, and I thought I would take the time here to briefly expand on my answer over at DefCon.

Step 1.  Memorise the following verse, or at least the first half of it:

Isaiah 64:6

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

 

Step 2.  Whenever you slip into the habit and say, “Oh my goodness,” remind yourself your goodness is as filthy rags.

If that doesn’t do it, engage step 3.

Step 3. Tell people close to you (friends, family) you are trying to break the habit, and ask them, every time you say, “Oh my goodness,” to respond, “…is as filthy rags.” If nothing else, you’ll stop just because you get tired of hearing that response!

If they don’t know the Lord, so much the better.  You are giving them an important part of the Gospel in a way they will not be likely to ever forget, showing them your commitment to please the Lord in small things as well as big, and demonstrating a humble awareness of your own sinfulness and need of a Saviour.

In fact, maybe you should just jump straight to step 3!

As with so many other statements that we make unthinkingly, the Christian who says “Oh my goodness” almost certainly never means any disrespect to God, never means to exalt himself or be self-righteous.  It is almost always just a habit into which he has drifted without even thinking about it.

If our Lord has blessed you with a relationship which permits it, perhaps when you hear another Christian say it you can give a gentle reminder of how that expression matches up with Scripture.  Or, if he has a sense of humour, just be ready with a quick response:  “Oh my goodness”” — “…is as filthy rags!”

OMG – Please, not again!

“OMG” — and Other Ways Christians Take God’s Name in Vain

Exodus 20:7

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

I briefly mentioned, in yesterday’s post, one way in which Christians take the Lord’s name in vain.  Unfortunately, too many of us have become very casual about this commandment, and I thought I’d take the time to mention some things we should consider.

Taking God’s Name in Vain

“Vain” means useless, or empty.  This verse, one of the Ten Commandments, tells us to not use God’s name in an empty or useless way.  God is to be respected as high and holy.  This isn’t optional.

 “OMG”

I read an article a couple of weeks ago (unfortunately, I forgot to note who gave me the link) which I thought was excellent.  I know nothing about the author, but her article (What does the Bible say about OMG?) is excellent.  Too many Christians, in moments of excitement, dismay, etc., say, “Oh my God,” — and it isn’t a prayer.  Others, more “refined,” say, “Oh my gosh,” which is effectively the same watered down a little bit.  When we do this, we are saying God’s name without any real meaning to it — using it vainly.

Text-speak and Internet usage have made this far worse.  Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter too often encourage people to speak quickly and mindlessly, and it is so very easy to type in “OMG” without even thinking about it.  Is that consistent with reverence for our God?  If you see a Christian doing this, perhaps you could send a private note asking him to stop.  He’s probably not even thought about it.

No one ever says, “Oh my Satan,” or a watered-down “Oh my Santa.”  Or, for that matter, “Oh my spaghetti” or “Oh my desk.”  Why do unbelievers always use “Oh my God”?  We know why — the god of this world is influencing them to use words that diminish reverence for the Almighty God.  Why should Christians even mimic that with a watered-down “Oh my gosh”?

“In Jesus’ Name, Amen”

I am NOT saying people should not pray in Jesus’ name.  He told us to.  I wrote about this briefly yesterday (Proverbs 10:24).  The point of praying in Jesus’ name is to pray as Jesus’ representative, and that means praying as He would have us pray.  It is not a magic spell to make our wish list come true, or vain repetition stuck at the end of our prayers.

It is intended to cause us to think about whether we are praying for things that we can and should appropriately ask in His name.  It is to remind us of the glorious privilege given to us as His servants.

“I’ll Pray For You”

If you say you are going to pray for someone, you speak as a Christian who can speak directly to God.  You are promising to speak to Him.  If you don’t do it when you said you would, you took God’s name in vain.  You talked about communication with Him in an empty and meaningless way.

It is not wrong to tell people we will pray for them.  But if we say it, we must mean it and do it.  I have a friend who is careful about this.  I don’t think I have ever heard him say, “I’ll pray for you.”  He does say, “I just prayed for you,” or, “Let’s pray about this right now.”  Something to consider….

Un-Christian Behaviour

About a week ago, News for Christians linked to Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain.  It is worth reading.  The writer appropriately refers to Romans 2:24:

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.

If you are called a “Christian”, you are called a follower of Christ.  You carry His name.  If your behaviour gives sinners excuses to blaspheme, you are taking His name in vain.  Those who bear His name must live by it.

T-Shirts, Bumper Stickers, Cute Sayings

I’m not going to get specific here, because those who want to nitpick can nitpick.  Rather, a suggestion:  read Isaiah 6, and see how Isaiah responded to his vision of the Almighty.  Look at Revelation 1, and see John’s response when he saw the Lord of glory.  Remember that even in these visions, not all of God’s glory and majesty was fully revealed, or these men would have died.  And ask yourself, does my bumper sticker, my t-shirt, my cute expression that I like to use, all these ways in which I speak of the Lord, do they really fit with who He is?

When I stand before Him (or rather, when I fall on my face before Him) will I be glad I used that bumper sticker and wore that t-shirt, or will I be horribly ashamed?  Am I altogether too casual and cutesy in how I speak of Him?

“God Told Me”

Many times, we hear Christians say that “God told me” to do something.  Unless it is written in God’s Word, God doesn’t tell me to believe your statement (even if you do believe it).  If there is no reason I should believe that God told you, there is no reason to say it.  The Bible doesn’t tell us to go around saying “God told me.”

If you make a statement the Bible didn’t tell you to make, and I should examine what you say (rather than take your word for it), then to claim God’s authority is to claim it vainly.  “God told me” in any context other than what the Scriptures have said is taking God’s name in vain — even if you personally believe He did tell you.  God doesn’t tell others to believe you when you say it, so it is an empty claim.  You shouldn’t say it.

“God Gave me Peace”

It’s amazing how many times God “gives peace” to people who are doing the exact opposite of what He said in Scripture.  Just because you feel comfortable about your decision doesn’t mean God has given you peace.  Perhaps all it means is that you’ve started to have better sleeping and eating habits so you physically feel better.  Perhaps it means you’ve seared your conscience so badly that it isn’t functioning anymore.

God does give peace, the Scriptures say so.  But the Scriptures never say we should make decisions by checking our “peace-meter” to see if it is measuring high enough.  “Peace-meters” are often inaccurate — God’s Word is not.  Many times, when people say “God gave me peace,” they are merely taking God’s name in vain, speaking it meaninglessly, claiming some kind of God-authority for decisions that He manifestly does not approve.

I am sure there are other ways in which we do not honour our Lord’s name as we should.  We, as Christians, need to take God’s holiness seriously, and give Him due reverence.  We should encourage and help one another to be alert to failings in this area, so that we can speak as He would have us speak.

Somewhat related later post:  Why is “Jesus Christ” used as “Blasphemous Profanity”?

And:  “God Told Me to Preach This”???

20% Special Discount Offer

Sonysmiling
I have had the privilege of introducing DefCon readers to a few new people in recent months. One of these people is Sony Elise, who runs her own editing business, and she is also a regular contributor here at DefCon. Since beginning her first editing job in high school, she has been proofreading and editing magazines, editorials, and books for over 25 years.

Sony Elise Editing Services is a new direction for her editing services starting this year. As she branches out on her own, she is offering an end-of-year special discount for the months of October through December of 20% off either of her editing packages. This is good for any book or story with a minimum purchase of $20. Having used her services several times, I know that her prices are more than competitive and you will be pleased with her work.

To obtain the discount, simply mention to Sony that you found the discount here on DefCon and you will receive the 20% discount. I realize this is unusual, but she recently was able to help a couple of pastors with their work, as well as some believers looking to break into publishing. It was my thought this might help you as well as help her also.

20discount

Pastor Ken Silva: A Defender of the Faith Passes Away

Mark Anthony Escalera:

A good brother and pastor, Ken Silva, passes away after a long illness. Ps. 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”

Originally posted on Reformed Nazarene:

I just recently learned of the passing of Pastor Ken Silva. The following was posted by our friends at Stand Up For The Truth website:

One of our dear comrades, Pastor Ken Silva, has passed away after a long illness.

Ken died last night in his New Hampshire home. A veteran researcher and reporter, Ken founded Apprising Ministries as well as Christian Research Network, two foundational apologetics sites where he wrote about trends in the church. Ken loved the Lord and loved sharing his faith. In recent years his degenerative illness worsened, and it became more difficult for Ken to write.

Ken has also been a pastor at Connecticut River Baptist Church in Claremont, New Hampshire, since 2003.

This past July, Ken reached out to many of us in “discernment ministries,” with word on what he was going through physically, financially and spiritually:

“…Our plan is for me to…

View original 554 more words

Image

Sex and a Fire Well Contained

There is a popular illustration that is often preached to help warn believers and non-believers of the dangers of sexual sin. It is often told that sex within the confines of marriage is like a fireplace, which, when in a controlled environment, provides blessing, warmth, and visual stimulation that is not harmful or dangerous. Any kind of fire outside of that contained and safe environment will spread, consume, and destroy, because that is how fire behaves. This illustration, and many others like it, is not entirely wrong when depicting the proper context for sex in a marriage relationship. And other times it is heavily used to warn the masses from the devastating, earthly consequences of sexual sin. Although I would not dogmatically disagree with this illustration, I find that it falls short in recognizing how adultery functions first in the heart, and perhaps how most people view sexual sin in reality. Allow me to give my illustration.

Continue reading

Taste and See!

Taste and See!

A review by Stuart Brogden

Barry Cooper has written a short but most excellent book, entitled Can I really trust the Bible? And other questions about Scripture, truth and how God speaks. While many very good and expansive apologetics books have been written, this small volume provides the reader an accessible wealth of information and insight as to the nature of the collection we call the Bible. Cooper gives us 5 short chapters, answering three questions, “Does the Bible claim to be God’s word?”, “Does the Bible seem to be God’s word?”, and “Does the Bible prove to be God’s word?” from 5 different perspectives:

  1. The world, the word, and what Jesus thought of the Bible.
  2. The word, the Word, and the rightness of writing.
  3. Consistency, conspiracies and corruptions.
  4. Canon, contradictions and criticisms.
  5. Tasting, seeing, and the sweetness of Scripture.

Our author introduces his book with a short look back at Winnie the Pooh and his penchant for honey – and how Pooh proved honey. The jar had a label claiming it was honey, but could the label be trusted? The contents looked like honey, but you can’t tell for sure by looking. The only way to be sure the jar contained honey was to taste it and see!

In explaining how the Bible is trustworthy, Cooper reminds us that the Bible does not claim to contain all knowledge about God – but that it contains all we need to know about God. And, still in chapter one, he points out Jesus’ attitude towards Scripture – He does not differentiate between the words of God and the word He caused men to write. The inspired word is trustworthy – not all any human author of Scripture wrote is inspired, only that which God intended and caused to be included in the canon of Scripture. In explaining the need we have of God’s written word, our author explains that giving it to us in writing allows God’s people to be sure and definite of knowing God’s word. If someone comes along claiming to speak for God, God’s word tells us how to respond – as the Bereans did, by searching the Scriptures to see if things are true; to test all things and cling to that which is good. Having God’s word in writing provides us this defense.

And since the Bible is the word of God, it is reasonable that He provided for its protection, preservation, and its identity as His word. The Roman Catholic Church claims that it decided what was in the canon of Scripture. Some evangelicals have been put off or discouraged by these claims. But Cooper rightly points out that the early church (hundreds of years before anything recognizable as the Roman Catholic Church) “didn’t willfully “declare” certain books to be from God; they could only recognize what was already apparent.” If God is God, sovereign over all He created, why should we be surprised when He uses His creation to produce, preserve, publish, and declare His word?

In chapter 4, Cooper gives us 7 quick arguments to refute claims that the Bible has errors:

  1. It’s not an error if it’s not in the original documents. There are scribal errors in every translation, but the enormous number of copies across the ages allows us to know what the autograph said.
  2. It’s not an error if we misunderstand the author’s intention. The Bible contains several genres of literature and literary customs of the authors’ eras. We cannot understand the Bible if we do not try to comprehend the historical and literary context of each passage.
  3. It’s not an error if it’s a paraphrase. Biblical authors often sum up accounts to provide something easy to listen to or read – same as when you summarize a movie you’ve seen.
  4. It’s not an error if it’s “phenomenological language”. When people describe things from their perspective, rather than objectively reporting facts, that phenomenological language. Cooper observes that a weatherman who talks about the sun rising is not called a liar – his audience knows what he means. He is using a literary custom of our day and telling it from his and our perspective.
  5. It’s not an error if someone else says it. This is when the Bible records someone telling a lie – the Bible is not in error. It is accurate in that it reports the lie. The liar is in error.
  6. It’s not an error if the Bible doesn’t speak definitively or exhaustively on every subject. Scripture doesn’t cover every topic, but it is authoritative on everything it does cover.
  7. It’s not an error if it ain’t written proper. Unlearned men speaking in sentence fragments are not errors. The issue is truthfulness – not passing a journalism exam.

Lastly, our author exhorts us to taste the Scriptures, to see if they are sweet to our souls as honey is to our tongues. Since the Spirit of God is the Author of Scripture, and since He lives in everyone who has been born of God, He will work in each child of God to develop our taste buds and give us understanding as we read and ponder the Word of God. Cooper warns us, the Bible “hasn’t been given to us so that we can know about God. It has been given to us so that we can know God.” He then quotes A.W. Tozer:

The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.

This, dear reader, is the bottom line: Those who have been made alive in Christ will experience what Cooper and Tozer wrote about. Those who have not been born again will not be able to. Our goal is not to convince unbelievers the Bible is true. Our goal is to know the Bible is true by our our knowledge of the Word Himself – and make noise about Him and His gospel to those who are not of His sheepfold, trusting that He will bring all the sheep home that the Father has given Him. This is what His word tells us – and His word is trustworthy.

Featured Image -- 34552