The 3rd Commandment

BibleThis is the fourth post in the series I’m doing on the 10 Commandments. The first one was called “Does God Change” where I expressed my belief that the commandments are just as binding today as they were in the time of Moses. The 2nd and 3rd posts were on the 1st Commandment and 2nd Commandment. Next, of course, we will be covering the 3rd Commandment and just how easily we break that one without giving it a second thought.

Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

I don’t think God could be any clearer, but I wonder how many people really understand just what God means by taking His name in vain.

Most folks believe we take God’s name in vain when we use God with a damning of someone or something. That is a form of taking the Lord’s name in vain although God is not really a name, but rather a designation of a being. If you study the scriptures a bit deeper, you will find that god is used in many ways, and many are not referring to the One we call God.

Then there is the use of Jesus Christ in less than a prayerful application. Of course, let’s not leave out all the euphemisms we use for the expressions of our anger, frustration and surprise. What about jeezzz and gosh, both euphemisms for saying Jesus or God.

So, what is it about these words and expressions that causes them to be taking the name of the Lord in vain? Is it the damn after God that does is, or the strong emphasis or expression of Christ after Jesus? Is it about the words themselves, or does it go deeper than that?

I’d like to submit to you that it’s not just the expression or words, but the use of these words, names or expressions in a way that is totally flippant and void of the respect and honor owed to our God. When someone responds with oh, god, in frustration they have dishonored God. When you say Jesus or Jesus Christ and it’s not in prayer or conversation about our Savior, you are breaking the 3rd Commandment.

I think these examples are probably rather apparent to most of you who read my blog, but let’s take it a little further or go just a little deeper.

What about when we call ourselves Christians, but don’t live the life? What about when we call ourselves Christians, but gossip and condemn others? How about when we call ourselves Christians, but regularly hang out with profane people seeking to be accepted by them? How about when we call ourselves Christians, but turn our backs on the needs and misfortunes of others. Isn’t calling ourselves a Christian while doing these things using the Lord’s name in vain? I believe so!

How would you feel if someone used your name or some designation of you every time they got angry or frustrated about something? What if your family, friends and all the people you knew used your name flippantly all the time, how would you feel?

I know people don’t do these things with the intention of using God’s name in vain, but we are responsible for the things that come out of our mouths. God is loving, kind and merciful, but as He said, “the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain”.

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  • Excellent thoughts Mike. We “justify” our misuse of His Name by saying, “Well, least I don’t use God and damn together” or “least I don’t use Jesus and Christ is the same breath unless I am praying or speaking in church.” So legalistic. And so wrong. You put your finger on it my friend. Oh, btw: perry Noble now calls them God’s promises not God’s commandments. Say what?

    • Mike Shanta

      Hey Bill. I’ve really been enjoying going deeper into the Commandments. People so often gloss over the commandments and look at them, like you said, in a legalistic way. As far as Perry Noble, I guess he’s doing what all people who want a mega church and to be idolized by me do; teach a feel good message full of fluff. Good to hear from you.

  • Good one, Mike. I liked the overall summary, especially the part where we use His name to justify our actions, as if He’d condone them… The ones that take money or make a business of collecting money based on God without the proper heart is the greatest abuse of “taking God’s name in vain” I believe.

  • Mike Shanta

    Hey Floyd! Ya, I think about some of these mega churches and think about the enormous amount of money they take in in the name of God, but wonder the ratio of their giving as opposed to their taking. I don’t begrudge anyone for having nice things, but when you live like a rock star and call yourself representing God, I think there might be a problem with the keeping of the 3rd Commandment in the spirit God requires.