Summary: A brief look at how we can avoid taking God's name in vain. Some things most don't think about that can injure our relationship to God.

Not In Vain

Today we will look at the 3rdcommandment:

Exodus 20:7 "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.

Many times we have heard of this command and many times I would guess that we thought of it referencing a method of cursing and therefore did not really hold much instruction for those of us that do not use such language. The thing is that we can be guilty of this command in many different ways. And all of these different things harm our relationship with God.

Before we get into all that the verse implies, let's review the theme we are following in this book: The commandments were given to the Israelites as framework for relationship. They give instruction for how we are to relate to God, Others, and ourselves. Now back to the Scripture.

Notice in the passage the mention of someone being held guiltless, or not held that way. The way the Christian is held guiltless is by accepting the forgiveness available by the death and resurrection of Jesus and being declared by God as not guilty. Not guilty (justified) because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Himself. That might be kind of wordy if you did not grow up in church. To explain it better try to picture Jesus as perfect and us as not perfect. Easy so far, right. Now picture God . He is perfect and cannot be with sin. So, how do we (sinners) get to be with a Holy God? Jesus by paying for our sins has given us His perfection. At least as far as when the Father looks at us, He sees Jesus. If we have been saved and forgiven, then we have been adopted into the family of God. The Father has given us His name. Everywhere we go and everything we do, we carry the name of the Most High God with us. Before we look at that one further, let's define a couple of words:


ineffectual or unsuccessful; futile: without real significance, value, or importance; baseless or worthless:


a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known.

So anything that we do that involves how God is designated, called, or known and causes His name to be worthless, or of no value is a sin against the 3rd commandment. Look at a verse from Matthew where Jesus is talking about vain worship:

Matthew 15:7-9 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"

Worship is not about showing up on Sunday and singing a hymn. It is not about staying awake while the preacher brings the Word. It is not even about your tithes and offerings. It is about your life, given to God. A life surrendered to His Kingdom instead of our own. It is about inside the church house and inside the home. In the office and in the school. Remember when I said we bear the name of God as His children? Everything that we do as bearers of the name of God matters. Anything that does not bring some value, use, worth, or eternal significance is violating the framework that He has given us. It causes grief to the Father and a distance in our relationship. Just another reason for us to constantly be vigilant regarding our thoughts, actions, and how we handle the salvation given freely to us but purchased at so great a price.

So what about it? How does that look in your life? It's not about being comfortable or just being good. It is not about rules. It is about representing the King of Kings and Lord of Lords well. Paul tells us that we are ambassadors of Christ.

2Co 5:18-20 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Showing the world who Jesus is and pleading with them to be reconciled to God. This is a part of our relationship to the Lord. If we are not focused on that in some way, we are living in vain and bearing the name of God in vain also. Make it matter. Make it useful. Make it real in your life.

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