The third commandment reads “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Ex. 20:4 KJV). Many people believe this is a commandment that prohibits swearing. This commandment is often viewed as a warning against using words like “Damn” or “Hell.” Many of us were raised to believe that “taking God’s name in vain” means using the words “God” and “Damn” in the same sentence. So if that is correct then all we have to do is clean up our language. Right? Not exactly.
This is not a commandment simply about swearing. The focus is actually on whether or not we take God’s name seriously.
The key to understanding the Third Commandment lies in properly interpreting the phrase “in vain.” The Hebrew expression means “lightly, frivolously, loosely, or casually.” To take God’s name “in vain” means to use it in a light, frivolous or casual way. The third commandment is warning us not to use God’s name in a frivolous or trivial manner.
Using God’s name in a trivial way is ignoring His sacred holiness and suggests He’s ordinary. Using His name frivolously, or attaching His name to profane words is to say He is not holy, omnipotent, sovereign or omniscient and is a complete rejection of Him. That’s what it means to cause God to be profaned and to use his name in a way that is profane.
This commandment reveals to us that our Creator takes His name and it’s use very seriously. So much so that the commandment adds a special note that He “will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
God’s name is important to Him because it represents His character.
Psalm 8:1 it says – How excellent is thy name in all the earth.
In Psalm 25 we read – in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
Proverbs 18:10 says – the name of the Lord is a strong tower.
In our culture God’s name is misused in many different ways. For the moment I want to focus on those little things we say without thinking. Let me share a few examples. When we are frustrated and say “Jesus” like an expletive. When we say “For God’s Sake” or “For Christ’s sake” out of frustration.
What do you think? Should we be throwing out “OMG” in our texts, social media, and posts? Probably not a good idea. Probably not the best way to speak God’s name in a public fashion.
How we use God’s name communicates how we view God. Is He our all in all, our creator, our Savior, our Father and the only one worthy of our worship? If so, we should use His name with love and reverence.