The Ten Commandments or the Law of God Series
Maybe it is just me, but the above modern translation, (1st time I saw it was this study) of this Third Commandment leaves something lacking. It says You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God… Misuse could mean anything, especially in the world today. It definitely has different connotations than the Hebrew intent Nasa’ to take, in Shav’ which means vainly, emptiness, vanity, falsehood (The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon) If one had to choose a modern version (outside the AMP see link above) the GNT (can’t believe I am writing this) says “Do not use my name for evil purposes, …” and is a better representation.
We last left off with the second commandment and today we will explore the third, maybe the one most broken by”Christians” in the modern world. It expressly forbids using God’s name in any manner that does not bring Him Glory.
First, a thought on the importance of using what we learn.
In James 2:14-26 we find the famous Faith and Works writing that stirred controversy for some. I bring this up here because once again I read a blog minimizing the need for “educated” meaning seminary pastors. While I will not attempt to argue that here, I would venture we have all met that person who can quote scripture but lacks putting that knowledge into practical action.
We as True Believers in today’s modern world need to be educated, the world (unbelievers) certainly are. That is one of the reasons for these postings. More importantly, we must be people of action. Knowledge is great but couch potatoes, or sitting with a game controller all day advances nothing for the kingdom.
Charles Hodge writes:
The third commandment, therefore, specially forbids not only perjury, but also all profane, or unnecessary oaths, all careless appeals to God, and all irreverent use of his name. All literature, whether profane or Christian, shows how strong is the tendency in human nature to introduce the name of God even on the most trivial occasions. Not only are those formulas, such as Adieu, Goodbye or God be with you, and God forbid, which may have had a pious origin, constantly used without any recognition of their true import, but even persons professing to fear God often allow themselves to use his name as a mere expression of surprise. God is everywhere present. He hears all we say. He is worthy of the highest reverence; and He will not hold him guiltless who on any occasion uses his name irreverently.
Again Looking at Keach’s Baptist Catechism of 1677 (it includes scripture references from the ESV) we find the following about the Third Commandment:
58. Which is the third commandment?
The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Ex. 20:7
59. What is required in the third commandment?
60. What is forbidden in the third commandment?
The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning and abusing of anything whereby God makes himself known. Mal. 1:6, 7, 12, 2:2, 3:14
61. What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?
The reason annexed to the third commandment is, that however, the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment. 1 Sam. 2:12, 17, 22, 29, 3:13; Deut. 28:58, 59
Thomas Watson in his classic The Ten Commandments (see below) states:
This commandment has two parts: 1. A negative expressed. That we must not take God’s name in vain; that is, cast any reflections and dishonor on his name. 2. An affirmative implied. That we should take care to reverence and honor his name. Of this latter I shall speak more fully, under the first petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Hallowed be your name.”
The tongue is an unruly member. All the parts and organs of the body are defiled with sin, as every branch of wormwood is bitter; “but the tongue is full of deadly poison.” James 3:8. There is no one member of the body, which breaks forth more in God’s dishonor, than the tongue. We have this commandment, therefore, as a bridle for the tongue, to bind it to good behavior. This prohibition is backed with a strong reason, “For the Lord will not hold him guiltless;” that is, he will not hold him innocent. Men of place and eminence deem it disgraceful to have their names abused—and inflict heavy penalties on the offenders. “The Lord will not hold him guiltless, who takes his name in vain;” but looks upon him as a criminal, and will severely punish him. The thing here insisted on is, that great care must be had, that the holy and reverend name of God is not profaned by us, or taken in vain.
It is our inherent sin nature that causes us to Take the name of the Lord our God in vain. We can overcome this nature, but only if we are Truly Born-Again if we call upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to guard our thoughts and our mouth daily. Prayer and fellowship with God are key.
Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, The Ten Commandments
Keach’s Baptist Catechism of 1677 – Modern #44-92
Thomas Watson’s classic The Ten Commandments
Systematic Theology, Charles Hodge, Chapter XIX, The Law
The Ten Commandments, by A. W. Pink
The Doctrine of Law and the Grace Unfolded – John Bunyan
A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel by John Colquhoun, D.D