Summary and Application
The Third Commandment
“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.” Exodus 20:7
“By your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned” (Matthew 12:37). This commandment not only prohibits false oaths and common swearing, but it forbids us to use the name of God in a light or careless manner, without regard to His name’s awful significance. By the thoughtless mention of God in common conversation, by using His holy name in trivial matters, and by the frequent and thoughtless repetition of His name, we dishonor Him. “Holy and reverend is His name” (Psalm 111:9). While we all should meditate upon His majesty, His purity and holiness that our hearts may be impressed with a sense of His exalted character, His name should not pass our lips with careless indifference. His holy name should be uttered with reverence and solemnity.
Included in this commandment is the idea that when we become Christians, we are actually taking on ourselves His holy name! As professing Christians, as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, we are to reveal to the world that we are endeavoring, by God’s grace, to be Christ-like in character. If we then continue to live according to the dictates of our old sinful desires, we are taking His name in vain. We see here a glimmer of why David exclaimed, “Your commandment is exceedingly broad” (Psalm 119:96). Thus, this third powerful precept requires reverence and respect for God and all sacred things.