Nicknames for God!
Nicknames for holy things!
The very thought of such nicknames strikes a discordant chord in the heart of the regenerated child of God.
Yet there are many, many such nicknames given and used by those who claim to walk in His fear.
Webster tells us that nicknames are names “given instead of the one belonging to the person, thing or place, usually descriptive and given in sport.” As a verb “to nickname” means, according to Webster “to misname; to give a nickname or to call by a nickname.”
Does one in sport give God names other than those which He has given us of Himself? Does man dare do that?
Can we describe Him better by names which we have manufactured than the names He has given us of Himself? Can we with words we invented tell who and what He is more clearly and more correctly than He has Himself in the names He gave us in holy writ?
Will we not be guilty of misnaming Him as Webster suggests in his definition of the verb “to nickname”?
Dare the creature even think that it may do this to God—be he His child—as he does to a friend? A friend he will slap on the shoulder; and in sport he will call him something that is a nickname. Dare he change God’s names into nicknames and in a jovial spirit pronounce them before God’s face?
Can that be done in His fear?
O, man is proud. Conceited specks of dust that depend upon God for every breath of life do dare to speak without reverence before His face. They do dare to take the name of the transcendent one, The almighty, sovereign and holy one of Israel and hurl it around like a plaything. They curse and swear and boast of being able to, curse and swear for two 6inutes straight without repeating themselves! The devilishness of it all!
Of that we usually piously (?) wash our hands. His names we do not take in vain. As far as that Third Commandment is concerned, we are quite sure that we keep that precept of God.
And we are quite sure of that even when we do perform that other hideous thing: that we manufacture nicknames for Him and for the things that are holy. And we dare to use them left and right and I once heard a man declare that he did so in His fear! He claimed to do it with reverence!
To what do we refer?
This: many who feel the horror of accentuating their words with the names of God and of His Son will come as close to the sound as they can without uttering the name. The forms are so numerous. We could not begin to give a catalogue of them all.
You know them all.
“Gee, but it is hot!” A nickname for Jesus is used by those who dare not use His Scriptural name. “Cripe” is used by those who know that to use the name “Christ” is forbidden. “Gosh” and “Golly” are the nicknames for “God.” “Gee Whiz” becomes another and a closer substitute for “Jesus.” A nickname for “God” that avoids the first letter and so seems to get away from the awful thing of swearing is “gotten;” one using only the first letter and varying from there on is the oft used “Guy.”
And the holy things?
These are chiefly used in the realm of cursing rather than swearing. The man who dares not say “O, hell it is true,” will swear by a nickname and say “O, heck, it is true!” But in the realm of cursing, he who dares not consign one to hell by using the word will also resort to that word “heck.” He who dares not say “Damn it” says “darn it.” And so we could continue, although we are thankful that our vocabulary on these “nicknames” is as limited as it is. These will suffice to show how we offend with tongue, with the same tongue that blesses God. Listen to the speech of men around you. Either by a similar sound, a word that begins with the same first letter that God’s names begin with or some other device, men give nicknames to God and to the holy things.
This is really nothing new. Jesus said to the multitude that they should not swear by heaven, by Jerusalem or by the king’s throne. These also were devices used by men who knew the third commandment and tried to commit its sin in a sinless way. That, of course, is folly.
You use these expressions and never thought of it that way?
That is not impossible, and we hope that these lines will be blessed and applied by the Spirit to give you grace to let your yea, be yea and your nay, nay that you may utter speech that manifests fear; the fear of the Lord.
The sad thing is that many of the books that are published for our youth and are even labeled: Christian fiction and are stories which are woven around the conversion of this or that young man or woman and picture what are to be Christian families and Christian young people contain many such expressions as “Gee”, “Gosh” and “Golly”: That is to be deplored. It is hard enough to rebuke and warn your children against these things as they hear them from the mouth of the world; but it makes it harder when—as the undersigned once had to do—you must read carefully all the books purchased for the church library and deface them by blotting out in black ink these things in so-called Christian fiction.
It was also in this connection that I heard that’ remark of using these nicknames in His fear. A continued story reading program was featuring one of these so-called Christian fiction books; and the radio personality who has reading it for the children came across such an expression: the word “Gee.” He felt it was out of place and after reading it stopped long enough in his reading to remark that if we only use that word reverently it would be alright; although, he added, it would be better without it. Reverent use of the irreverent? In His fear you cannot use these terms reverently in any other way than to condemn them in no uncertain terms. To defend them is to be irreverent, is to show lack of the fear of the Lord in regard to that matter.
Let us also bear in mind that to refrain from the use of these “nicknames,” which are cursing and swearing as much as the vain use of God’s names, simply because of the presence of parent, an elder or minister of the gospel still is not speaking in His fear. The reason for our putting a stop to the use of all these words should not be to avoid a rebuke from men. It should not be to keep from hurting the feelings of those who object to such language. It should not be in the first place either to keep from offending others-in the scriptural sense of offending, namely, to cause them to stumble into the same sin. It should always be discarded from our speech in order to walk in His fear. In order to glorify and praise God in our speech, we should refrain from all these variations of His names for our own selfish defense and emphasis of our words.
“Profanity is the attempt of a feeble mind to express itself fordefully.” I read that slogan somewhere. But it is a very materially minded slogan. It had a form of godliness to it; but it denies the power thereof. God is not in it. “Gee!” “Golly!” and “Gosh!” are not simply the attempt of a feeble mind to express itself forcefully by using the names of the almighty one. You either use God’s name to His praise and glory or else you take it in vain. And the attempt of a feeble mind to strengthen its words by the use of the almighty’s names is taking that name in vain. It is the proud and devilish act of trying to make God your servant. Proud, fallen, depraved man will not even have scruples about seeking God’s help in his evil attempt to set himself up as god. (The same is true, of course, also of all heresy. A heretic will not have a scruple to use God’s names and to quote His holy Word to defend himself in his lie and for self-vindication.) But that is. not walking in His fear. We must manifest speech that manifests His fear. We must stand in holy reverence and awe before Him as GOD.
And words formed from part of the letters of His names or fashioned after the sounds in His names or of holy things is taking His name in vain. It is not manifesting the fear of the Lord. It is behaving as though we do not consider Him to be the Lord and God that He is.
We might add that for this reason also we cannot at all approve of the practice of speaking to Him as “You.” Many circles like to do that and claim that it is a more personal touch. The discarding of the forms of “Thee” and “Thou” in our prayers, it is claimed, show a more intimate and tender relation between the God of our salvation and His redeemed child. It seems to manifest the covenant relation more beautifully. It seems to indicate that we truly consider Him to be our father; and we never address our earthly fathers with the lofty “thee” and “thou.” But it does not manifest speech that reveals the fear of the Lord!
Indeed we do not address our earthly fathers as “thee” and “thou” exactly because they are earthly fathers. But Jesus taught us in His model prayer to address Him as our Father who art in heaven, not to be placed on the same level with our earthly fathers.
He is God!
How easy it is to forget that. How much more convenient and man-exalting it is to ignore that fact. But we may not! And we know that too. When we appear before an earthly judge, we call him “Your Honor.” And God we will put below that man? God Himself declares that the children should honor their fathers and their mothers. But we do not honor Him when we drag” Him down to our own level in our speech and talk to Him as though He is one of us.
To address Him as “You” rather than “Thou” has a form of godliness in it in that it looks like we are so spiritual that we are so close to Him and on such good terms with Him; but it denies the power of godliness, for it denies that He is God.
He who lives in His fear has a deep, spiritual respect for Him as God. The angels cover their faces before Him. Job, having been instructed by God says “I will put mine hand upon my mouth,” Job 40:4. He who lives in His fear and prays to Him in His fear does so with reverence and awe.
He is our covenant Father and has lifted us to a glorious state as children who have in Christ the right to all the blessedness of His house. But He is and remains God.
Speak of Him and to Him in such a way that you manifest a faith in Him as GOD and not as some creature on your own level.
He lifts us to heavenly heights in the salvation He has accomplished in His Son; but in it all He remains the transcendent one. In our salvation we are lifted far above where we are through the fall and even far above where Adam stood before the fall; but He remains infinitely above us. We have been made a little lower than the angels and raised by Christ above them; but God has not in that salvation been demoted to any degree. In fact it is the child of God who is saved from the foolishness and blindness of sin and the lie who understands how lofty and exalted above all creatures God is.
Such a saved child of God utters speech that manifests the fear of the Lord.