Opening Activity: Read Psalm 34:1-3 and the third commandment.
Taking God's name in vain means treating it like it was empty of meaning and of no significance. The opposite is exalting it, which is to lift it up and regard it as of the greatest significance.
How Do We Profane God’s Name?
I. By Expletives and Euphemisms
The first way we profane God’s name is when we use it as a swear word or expletive. This includes euphemisms (i.e. shortened or “substituted” words) like OMG, gosh (God), geez (Jesus).
Why is it that we tend to use God’s name this way? We do not use Hitler’s name in such a way. It is simply a (subconscious?) expression of our utter disregard for God.
II. By Degrading All Things Associated with God
But it is not limited to the respective names of God alone. God’s name refers to anything reveals God or is associated with God’s name.
Names in the Bible were mainly revelatory.
So, when the commandment mentions God’s name, it indicates anything by which God makes Himself known, be it His names, titles, attributes, word, works, ordinances (worship, sacraments, church officers, etc).
How many ways do we break this commandment now? It is virtually infinite!
III. By Hypocritical & Ungodly Lives
Christians take God’s name upon their lips when they make a public profession of faith. They are also baptized into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Michael Moriarty says that the third commandment has to do with God’s reputation. As the Proverbs say, “A good name is to be desired more than riches.” When we become a Christian we are taking God’s name. If we do not act appropriately in the world, we disparage God’s name and ruin his reputation.
False doctrines and hypocrisy ruin God’s name by giving the world reason to hate God and spurn his grace.
IV. By Breaking Oaths & Vows
The oath is one of the primary things in view in this commandment. To take God’s name in the ancient world was to swear an oath. If a Christian vows to do something, God’s name is at stake. Some oaths are even so solemn that they will place their hand on a Bible. (Deut. 23:21-23; Psalm 15:4; Matthew 5:37)
Why is this commandment such a big deal?
The Lord tells us why: "The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain." In other words, death and condemnation will result.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism explains this part of the commandment well when it says, "Though the breakers of this commandment may escape the judgments of men, the Lord will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment” (WSC #56).
Read: 2 Kings 2:23-24; 1 Corinthians 11:29-30;
You will likely find that you break this commandment a lot. You will realize that your daily speech is rather profane. May this study help you not just to see your sin, but to really turn from it to true holy speech.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.