THE THIRD COMMANDMENT –
THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN – Exodus 20


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

Exodus 20:7 ASV

The name of God is holy beyond any comparison.

The prayer which Jesus taught his apostles began with the words, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name!” (Matthew 6:9).

Salvation itself is accomplished in the power of the glorious name of GOD. “Neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

“Thou shalt not …” Notice the recurrence of these words. Evidently Almighty God was not operating on the same level of present-day psychologists who deplore “negative commandments.”

Some Christian teachers, even, have fallen into the error of supposing that all of Jesus’ commandments were positive.

However, look at these from a single sermon by the Master:

“Swear not at all” (Matthew 5:34).

“Resist not him that is evil” (Matthew 5:39).

Do not your righteousness before men (Matthew 6:1).

“In praying, use not vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7).

“Be not therefore anxious” (Matthew 6:24).

“Neither cast your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6).

“Judge not” (Matthew 7:1).

It must be allowed that God is a good Psychologist, having, in fact, created the human mind, and these dramatic negatives certainly have their proper place in the restraint of human wickedness.

God does not say, “Please do this,” or” Wouldn’t you like to do that?” but “Thou shalt not!”

The penalties are relentless, and disobedience is revealed as fatal.

There are many ways of violating this commandment.

At the head of the list, because of its prevalence, is common, profane, vulgar swearing.

This has been called “the sin without temptation.”

It satisfies no appetite, achieves no benefit for the swearer, does not commend itself to any person whomsoever, and is as foolish and ridiculous a sin as any ever committed.

It is invariably a sign of a weak and ineffectual vocabulary, a mark of vulgarity, an evidence of disrespect, resentment, or frustration, and a sign of irreligion and unbelief.

There are other forms of “taking God’s name in vain.”

There is hypocrisy, in which God is spoken of but not in sincerity. The man who says, “Lord, Lord” but does not do God’s will is profane.

The performance of actions “in the name of God,” which, in fact, are NOT commanded by Him is also profanity. The example of the sons of Sceva illustrates this (Acts 19:13).

Frivolity may also be profanity. Isaiah denounced this practice, saying, “(They) make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth nor in righteousness (Isaiah 48:1).

It is especially deplorable that some people in public life today are guilty of disobeying the will of God in this particular.

How wonderful it would be if all people in high position today would follow the example of the illustrious founder, of our nation, George Washington, who forbade, “profane cursing, swearing, and drunkenness” in the Continental Army in an order of the day issued on July 4,1775, and who, some nineteen years earlier had written:

“I have, both by threats, and persuasive means, endeavored to discountenance gaming, drinking, swearing, and irregularities of every kind.”

George Washington

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
Matthew 5:38‭-‬41 RSV

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