I hope you are beginning to see how these commandments are our true friends who help us avoid some major pitfalls and dangers. My dog is my true friend when we take our walks after dark. Or he used to be before his sight and hearing declined! This Third Commandment will never grow old. It guards our attitudes toward God, the scriptures, and preaching. And it contains a threat of just punishment on those who refuse to correct their own attitudes.
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).
We are to treasure and honor this King of Kings and Lord of Lords and treat him with reverence and awe. After all, He is a king with all the majesty that implies. Of course, this is always mellowed because God is our Savior, and even though Jesus is our brother, in a sense, that does not negate this commandment to watch our attitude. Jesus taught us to pray, “Hallowed be thy name”— to treasure God above everyone and to honor him. Wives in Christian marriages are to see to it that they respect their husbands (Ephesians 5). And the church as the bride of Christ is to respect him. To have the right attitude toward God is to be reverent and respectful. Our attitude should have an element of awe and wonder as well.
Our attitude shows itself in our speech and even in our body language. Of course, any cursing is horribly wrong. Don’t put up with it from your teens in your presence. We are never even to speak lightly of God or to pray as if he was our buddy. It is so out of place considering his majesty and the splendor of his throne. Just read Revelation 4 and you will put your hand on your mouth. Give children a little help not to slough in church, put their feet up on the pews, or do whatever reflects a disrespect for the preaching or the reading of God’s word. Both are ways God has chosen to reveal himself, just as giving us his name reveals his character of faithfulness and love.
We take God’s name in vain when we take a vow to do something and then just forget about it. Marriage vows are serious. Yet, today weddings are often more about the dress or the party afterwards than on the seriousness of the promises the bride and groom are making. We are gathered together “in the sight of God and these witnesses” to make promises of faithfulness and love to each other. To make a joke of this is to take God’s name in vain.
Any living as a hypocrite is taking God’s name in vain as well. Jesus seriously rebuked the Pharisees for this. Their attitudes were not one of reverence and awe toward the God they claimed to represent. A wrong attitude leads to wrong living. So they could put great burdens on others’ consciences and rob widows instead of caring for them.
This third commandment has the power to condemn us. It shows us how far our attitudes toward God miss the mark. Our sins are ever before us. But it points us again to the grace in the gospel. Jesus never had a bad attitude towards God–even as a 13 year old teen! Yet, he suffered and died for those times when we have failed and gives us his robe of righteousness to cover our sins (Romans 4:23-25). Such a comfort for sinners is found in the gospel. Always think about the gospel when you study the law.
Christian church, see to it that you respect your husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.