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.

Hello everyone! Your name is important to you, I am sure, just like my name is important to me. The reputation that goes along with my name or your name is very important for you to protect. You want to have a good reputation with the world at large. Names are very important to God as well. He names things, as a matter of fact, after various characteristics that the individual or the creation or the created item has. Those characteristics are reflected in the name that God uses for them. For example, when God created lesser beings called angels, He named them for characteristics that they had or jobs and positions that He gave them. Lucifer is a prime example.

The name Lucifer means “light bringer” because at the time when God created Lucifer and gave him a job to do, it was to bring light to the earth, which is symbolic of the truth. His job was to bring light to mankind. When sin was found in him, God took that job away from him and renamed him. We can find that in the Scriptures his name is now Satan. Why did God change his name to Satan? He changed it because Satan means adversary, arch enemy, and destroyer. That’s what Satan means. He has a few other names in the Scriptures that go right along with that: Apollyon which means destroyer and Abaddon which means the destructive one. These names are reflective of the character that Satan has.

God has other angels that we know the name of, for instance, Michael. Michael the arch angel has a name that means “who is like God.” Michael is similar to God in characteristic. He must be a very righteous, hard-working angel. Another angel that is mentioned several times in the Scriptures is Gabriel. We know him as a messenger. He has brought many messages to God’s people from heaven. His name means “man of God.” He brings messages of God to man, and he is like a man in the image and likeness of God.

As you know in previous segments of this study that we are doing on the great test, we saw that God does call angels men. Even though they are not humans in the form that we are, they are a type of man that is elevated above mankind but is spiritual. You will find that Satan is referred to as the man of sin and the son of perdition. We have covered that in previous segments. That shows you that these names are reflective of certain characteristics or positions that God has given these angels.

How do you think God feels about His name? His name is extremely important to Him. That’s why one of the Ten Commandments reflects how we are to treat that name. God has names that reflect His beautiful character, His position, or some of His many accomplishments. Let’s look at a few of God’s names.

If you were to study God’s names in the Bible, you would find that He has names such as these: El Shaddai which means God Almighty, Almighty Blessed; Father of Lights which means to shine or to make manifest such as in James 1:17; Yahweh Rapha which means the God of healings; or Emmanuel. When Christ came to the earth He was called Emmanuel, which means God with us. Other names include: Faithful and true; the Rock; Yahweh which means I am and will continue to be that which I am; our Savior; our Redeemer, the one who purchases back with His blood. Finally on this shortened list is Logos, which means the Word, because Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He gives us His words in the Bible, which is also called the word of God, because they are His utterances given to the prophets.

We can see God’s names are very many and varied, because He has so many awesome characteristics and so many fine qualities and so many accomplishments that no single name could possibly cover all the beautiful ramifications that God’s name means. Let’s go to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:7 and read the third commandment.

Exodus 20, verse 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.”

We are told here not to take His name in vain. God will not hold us guiltless if we do so. What is taking God’s name in vain? That is the subject of today’s segment. What does it mean to take God’s name in vain? It does not just mean that when you hit your finger with a hammer and you cuss and swear that you have taken God’s name in vain. Or in a fit of anger you take God’s name in vain, or you use filthy language associated with God’s name. Yes, all that can be taking God’s name in vain, but it is much more than that.

We need to define in the Hebrew what “vain” means. Vain is the Hebrew word shav (#7723, Strong’s Concordance, 1995), which means desolating evil that rushes over like a tempest or a storm. It literally means ruin, physically or morally. It means idolatry. It means uselessness and deceptiveness, like falsehood and lies. This is what vain means.

That broadens what we mean by taking God’s name in vain. It is not just a fit of anger. It is something far more than that to God, and it is very important to Him that we never do that. If we do, we are not held guiltless unless we get forgiveness from God because His name is that important to Him. It is just as you and I want people to refer to us in such a way that reflects our true character. We don’t like to be slandered. Many more manifold times than that, God cares about His name because His name is perfect in every way.

We must never portray God as a vain Being, and I am going to show it this way. If we say He is useless, He is good for nothing, or that He doesn’t answer prayers, that’s taking God’s name in vain. If we say He is wrong and He makes mistakes, that is taking God’s name in vain. If we say He has been deceptive with mankind and tricked us, that is taking God’s name in vain. If we say that He is a destroyer and wants to destroy mankind and this earth, that is taking God’s name in vain. Satan is the destroyer. If we take Him to be one of many gods as many pagans do, we would find ourselves taking God’s name in vain because that is idolatry. If we put anything before Him as we saw in the first couple of commandments, that is taking God’s name in vain because that’s lowering Him behind something else. Any of these things is taking God’s name in vain.

Now we understand more what it means to take God’s name in vain. We understand what it means to offend God and not be held guiltless, and that is the critical thing here. If we do this, we are guilty, and we need to ask God for His forgiveness.

God’s name is taken in vain far more frequently than we realize. I would suggest that you meditate on the things that we have just covered. Think about the times that maybe you or I have taken God’s name in vain inadvertently. It is probably a lot more often than you realize.

Let’s go to Revelation chapter 1. I want to cover several ways specifically that God’s name is taken in vain very frequently. The first one I want to cover is when people say God is dead or irrelevant. This idea of God is dead goes directly against the Scriptures. Humanism itself is taking God’s name in vain. Humanism is when we rationalize the world without a god, or that we use science as our god. That is taking God’s name in vain. God is not dead.

The apostle John is speaking in Revelation chapter 1. Revelation chapter 1, verse 17: “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.’”

That is Jesus Christ—the Word—speaking to the apostle John.

Revelation 1, verse18: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

He is alive forever. He has always been alive, except for the short time His body was in the grave. Jesus Christ had no beginning and no end. Anyone who says He is irrelevant or dead and that God no longer exists is taking God’s name in vain.

Worshiping things or objects or items in creation is taking God’s name in vain. Let’s go to Romans chapter 1. It tells us that God did create all things, and there is tremendous meaning behind those things. But we are not to worship them.

I am in Romans chapter 1, beginning in verse 18: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”

We can look at creation and learn things about God and His attributes. He intends for that to be the case. He does not want us to worship the creation. He does not want us to worship objects that we make from earthen things because that is taking God’s name in vain. It is important to realize that many people around the world are inadvertently taking God’s name in vain even when they are trying to worship Him. That is sad. People need to realize this because God’s name is so important to Him. We want to get it right.

When we invoke His name and when we pray to Him, we want to make sure we are in the right attitude and that we have not taken His name in vain. Another way that man often takes God’s name in vain is portraying Him as a very destructive, vengeful, hateful Being who wants to destroy this earth and mankind because He is so fed up with us. If that is the case, why did He send us His Son? Why did God the Father send us His Son to deal with our sins? It is because He loves us. When He created the earth through His Son, He said, it is good. God doesn’t want to destroy this earth. It is Satan who wants to destroy the earth! He is the god of this world (with a little “g”), and he is the destroyer. To put his attributes on God’s name is taking God’s name in vain. There are so many times that this is done today, even by preachers and people who intend to worship God! They portray God as a God who is going to literally destroy this earth at the end of the age and almost all life except for a few! That is far from the purpose of God!

We don’t know exactly everything about how God wins, but we know this, He wins big! He doesn’t win in a minimalist way. He is not going to save a few people on this planet. He is not going to save a corner of this planet to begin again or start again with another earth. No. He is going to transform this earth into a beautiful place in the Millennium. He promises to do that. He promises to bring us through all the calamities that we see on the earth right now, and all the death and destruction we do see is about to come to an end when Satan’s power is removed from him! He will be put in shackles and put in the abyss where he can no longer affect people’s minds and tempt them. We will have a beautiful earth, and God promises that He is about to do that!

God is a builder. He is the opposite of Satan. He gave us the earth. He created this earth. He created the solar system and the universe. He is a builder, He is a creator, and for mankind He is a liberator! As we have seen in previous segments, Satan has held the earth captive with an iron grip. He is a tyrannical ruler of this earth who wants to create a desolate earth without life. He wants us to suffer in the process. That has been his modus operandi ever since the Garden of Eden when he brought sin to the human race. God says, I am going to liberate you from this.

Let’s go to the gospel of Luke chapter 9. He admonished the disciples when they had an attitude like many of the ministry that we hear about today of let’s get them! Let’s punish them! They had an attitude for a while of, let’s punish people who don’t treat Jesus Christ right. Christ said, you don’t know what you are like if that’s what you want to do.

Here we are in Luke chapter 9, verse 51: “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…”

That was just prior to His crucifixion.

Verse 52 of Luke 9: “…and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’”

The Samaritans had insulted Jesus Christ. They said, we don’t need to see You. If You want to go to Jerusalem, then forget coming here! The apostles took great offense on Jesus Christ’s behalf. They said, don’t You want us to destroy these people?

Christ said this in verse 55 of Luke 9: “But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village.”

That’s the kind of God we have! He is a Savior—Emmanuel with us. He is a God who wants to liberate us from the tyranny of Satan who is the real destroyer. He is the real destructive agent upon the earth.

God also does not like it when we put false prophecies in His mouth and say that God said this. We have had a plethora of people since Y2K, let’s say—the turn of the century, the new Millennium—where there has been one prediction after another of the end of the world. It is always associated with a terrible Armageddon with huge apocalyptic visions with scenarios of nuclear bombs going off and asteroids and comets hitting the earth! People would be dying by disease in droves! That’s not what God wants for the human race. That’s what Satan wants for the human race. God is going to liberate us. God does not want us to say that He uttered those kinds of words and that He wants to destroy us. God does not want us to say those are His prophecies. People come out with books, movies, and TV programs all about these various scenarios that are horrific. That is taking God’s name in vain.

Ezekiel chapter 13 tells us that God does not like it when we put prophecies in His mouth that are wrong and speak things in His name that are incorrect. Ezekiel chapter 13, beginning in verse 1: “And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, “Hear the word of the Lord!”’ Thus says the Lord God: ‘Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord. They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, “Thus says the Lord!” But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, “The Lord says,” but I have not spoken.’ Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,’ says the Lord God.”

When we see nonsense and envision lies and then portray them as the word of God, we are taking the name of God in vain. It can be a person who produces a movie or a TV program to influence people that way or just to make money off it. It can be a minister or a preacher falsely attributing destructive characteristics to God when God indeed at the end of the age wants to release mankind from Satan and not replace his tyranny with even more destructive power! He could destroy us if He wanted to, but then why did God the Father send His Son? He sent His Son that we may have life and have it more abundantly.

We are on the verge of a new Millennium! It will be a Millennium of peace in which Satan will be locked away. This world will see what the potential was in the Garden of Eden before Satan got Adam and Eve to fall to sin. God’s whole plan is designed to liberate the human race.

God created the earth to be a good place. That’s what He said in Genesis. He continued to say that in the Old Testament thousands of years later. I am going to Isaiah chapter 45. In Isaiah chapter 45, verse 18 we are told: “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited…”

He did not create this earth in vain, to be destroyed, or to be ruined. He did not. He formed it, as the Word says here, to be inhabited by man, by animals, by the grass and the trees, and the birds of the air. He formed this earth to be inhabited in a beautiful garden to produce human beings of good character in the image and the likeness of God. He created it to be inhabited and not to be destroyed.

Continuing in Isaiah 45, verse 18: “…I am the Lord, and there is no other [says God here]. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in vain’; I, the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

God’s word is right. His prophecies are correct. He says He is going to lock Satan away at the end of the age and give us a beautiful Millennium. It will be a thousand years of peace! Mankind needs this.

Don’t let the craziness you see about you in the world today take away your joy and your future abundant life, because you failed to see that God’s way is true and that what He says is good for you and for me and for the entire human race on this planet. Don’t let the pundits and the false representatives who think Christ is spewing false prophecies about the end rob you of joy and peace of mind. Don’t be anxious. God says He will free us from Satan. He is going to give us a beautiful Millennium, and it is just around the corner.

We can see there are many ways we can take God’s name in vain if we are not careful. We want to keep the Third Commandment. If we do love God, we want to keep His commandments. We have seen this in previous segments. The Third Commandment, do not take God’s name in vain, is very important to Him, because His name is important to Him. We will not be held guiltless if we do so.

Examine your life. Look and see if there are ways that you can improve in how you represent God and His name. Share the good news of the gospel with your friends and your relatives. Assure them that God’s plan for mankind is marvelous! It is beautiful! It is about to bear fruit in ways that we can’t imagine. With Satan gone—the real destructive force removed from this earth—we are going to have a beautiful Millennium. Look forward to it. Count on it, because that is the prophecy that God wants you to believe in. It goes right along with His name—all those remarkable and beautiful names that we read. We have a wonderful God—a Great God. He has a wonderful future for you and me!