Ten Commandments: #3 – Don’t Take His Name in Vain

Continuing our discussion of the Ten Commandments, let us briefly examine the third.

  • God is love.
    • Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
      • 1 – You shall have no other gods before Me.
      • 2 – You shall not make for yourself an idol.
      • 3 – You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
      • 4 – Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
    • Love your neighbor as yourself.
      (i.e., Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.)

      • 5 – Honor your father and your mother.
      • 6 – You shall not murder.
      • 7 – You shall not commit adultery.
      • 8 – You shall not steal.
      • 9 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
      • 10 – You shall not covet.

People commonly think that this commandment is a prohibition of cursing, but it is much more than that.

From our earliest days on earth we are trained to be sensitive to the sound of our own name.  Will someone say your name within earshot and you not notice it?  Will people talk about you and you not pay attention?  If we pay attention when our names are being used, does not God hear when people say His name?  Filler phrases like “O my God” and “Lordy, Lordy” are vain because they appear to address the Lord but seldom actually do.  Even when we use the Lord’s name in a more sober and thoughtful way, are we staying aware that He’s actually paying attention to our words in that moment?  Are we using His name with an awareness that He’s always within earshot?

Beyond the use of a name as a way to address someone, there is the fact that a person’s name is his reputation.  That is, if you have “a good name” it means you have a good reputation.  Therefore, if you are known as a Christian, what is this doing for the reputation of Christ – is it enhancing His reputation or detracting from it?  As I’ve heard others ask it, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  A follow-up question could be, “And what would be the nature of that evidence – would it be that you go to church or that your character and behavior remind people of Jesus?”  If people associate you with the name of Christ, do not let it be in vain.

Consider also that by telling us that Jesus is Lord, the apostles were putting us on a first-name basis with the ruler of the universe.  If you were on a first-name basis with the president of the United States, would you never seek access to him or even give him a call?  People who accept that Jesus as Lord without calling on Him regularly are accepting His name in vain.

Do the questions I’ve asked about His name cause you to feel guilty?  Do not resist the guilt; accept it and repent.  Change.  Today.  This is the true Christian life: repenting and following Christ more and more with each new day.  What matters is not whether you are already like Him, but whether you are becoming more like Him with the passing of time.

5 Replies to “Ten Commandments: #3 – Don’t Take His Name in Vain”

  1. Great series. In fact, I’m using your discussion for our family’s morning devotional time.

    Wanted to bring to your attention, however, a confusion of words in the last sentence of the second to the last paragraph. I believe you may have intended to say: “People who accept that Jesus is Lord without calling on Him regularly are accepting His name in vain.” Please correct me if I’m wrong or you had intended some other wording.

    Thank you & God bless you and your excellent studies. They are a blessing.

  2. Norm,

    Thanks very much for calling attention to my confusing sentence. While I try to always run a spell-check and proofread everything I write, I nevertheless miss things – like this one. Therefore, I always appreciate readers who notify me of errors or anything at all that’s confusing. Thank you.

    I am very glad to hear that you are finding these posts useful. In an age of lawlessness, it is particularly encouraging to learn of others who see God’s commandments not as burdens to be avoided or anachronisms to be explained away, but rather as precious gifts to be welcomed, treasured, and obeyed – in other words, as an unending source of happiness for us. Thus “happy is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18) and “you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).

  3. Thank you, sir. I appreciate your spirit with regards to everything you have shared — that I have thus read, even in the face of very acute criticism from certain detractors! Please keep up the good work.

    May I share some thoughts and a song that we picked up many years ago that might further encourage that work…

    The Book of Matthew states, in part: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven…” and “…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

    The Word of God says: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” According to the Prophet Jeremiah, and repeated by the author of Hebrews, the New Covenant is God’s laws written on the hearts and minds of people, to the end that the same laws be put into daily practice. It is impossible to be a New Covenant Christian without pursuing His laws individually and ultimately in society as a whole.

    H.B. Clark, in Clark’s Biblical Law states: “Generally it will be seen that Biblical Law is no less sound and usable today than when it first was written. And one who will carefully examine its rules and attempt to trace their workings will be astonished to find how completely they cover the entire field of civil, domestic, and even social life.”

    This song, by Frederick Gillman, states what we believe should be in the hearts of all. It is called simply, “God Send Us Men.” It was written in the early part of the 20th century (in 1909) by a man who, to my knowledge, penned only this single hymn.

    This is one of my favorites. May it be a blessing to you and any others who care to take a listen…

    God Send Us Men

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