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Let us begin our study on the third commandment by turning to Exodus 20:7.
"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."
We know that this commandment would prohibit common cursing and swearing, but it also forbids the careless or flippant use of God's name. It could even include carelessness in spiritual things. As a whole, the third commandment would speak out against profanity, irreverence, and hypocrisy.
Reverence is the way into the divine presence of God. Since God is holy, His name is holy, and we are to approach Him in holiness. If people use God's name in a careless way it is because they do not know Him. For to know Him is to worship Him. To know Him is to reverence Him. To know Him is to honor Him. Those closest to the throne of God "rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." Revelation 4:8. Those closest to the throne reverence Him the most, because they know Him the best.
When the Lord revealed Himself to Moses, He passed by before him, and proclaimed, "The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation." See Exodus 33:18, 19; 34:5-8.
In proclaiming His character to Moses, God was declaring His name. When Jesus was with us, He manifested to us the character of the Father. As Jesus said, "I have manifested Thy name unto the men. . . ." John 17:6. In manifesting the name of the Father, Jesus was manifesting His character.
John wrote, "For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." 1 John 1:2. Jesus manifested in our flesh in blood "that eternal life, which was with the Father." Those who reverence God the most will be those that manifest Him the most.
"Reverend" is used but once in the Bible, and it is applied to God's name. "Holy and reverend is His name." Psalms 111:9. Since "reverend" is used only in reference to God, it should never be used in reference to anyone else.
When we use the name of God we are on holy ground. There should be no vain repetitions. In the Lord's prayer, God's name is used but once, "Our Father which art in heaven." Matthew 6:9.
Profanity: Profane speech would be included in this commandment. "Pro" means "in front of," and "fane" means "the temple." Together it means irreverence for holy things. This is expressed with crude speech. It would include a flippant use of God's name. It would include slang type names and such applied to God and spiritual things. It is said of the 144,000 that "in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." Revelation 14:5.
False Swearing: The Bible says, "Ye shall not swear by My name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God." Leviticus 19:12. This does not forbid taking the judicial oath in a court room. The point is that God's name should never be linked with falsehoods. A Christian's word should be as good as his oath.
Jesus spoke against useless oaths. See Matthew 5:33-37. Some had taken oaths to an extreme, using solemn oaths to confirm almost every statement.
If a person did lie under oath the penalty was measured by the crime which they sought to falsely incriminate upon the accused. See Deuteronomy 19:18-20.
Hypocrisy: Hypocrisy is when we lie with our lives. This too is a violation of the third commandment.
Jesus said, "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophecy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:7-9.
We can honor God's name only by doing His will on earth as it is done in heaven.
Jesus said, "Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7:21-23.
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