Summary: This study takes a look at the Ten Commandments from a New Testament perspective.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.
Look at 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.
If you ask people what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain, the vast majority of people will say that this is to use God’s name in profanity. While this is one way to use His name in vain, this warning has deeper implications than just a curse word. The word vanity used here means, “Emptiness of speech, worthless behavior, or meaningless”. To take the Lord’s name in vain is not only to use His name profanely, but also to take His name to yourself while you dishonor God by your actions and lifestyle. Consider Matthew 15:8-9
8 ’These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ "
According to Jesus, most of those who claimed to worship God and through religious sounding speech give a pretense of holiness are not honoring Him at all because their heart contradicts their claims. When people depart from God in their hearts, they quickly begin to reshape religion and exchange God’s truth for the doctrines of men. Those who claim to be Christians but live contrary to the word of God are taking His name in vain. Many take on the name of Christ while seeking to justify themselves as they live and act contrary to the word of God. This is very true in the church today. Everywhere you look you see people who claim the name of the Lord but in truth their lives take His name in vain. Look now at Psalm 50:16-17
16 But to the wicked God says: "What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you?
Anyone who casts God’s word to the side and rejects instruction has no right to claim His name or declare themselves to be Christians under the covenant of faith in Christ. To do so truly is vanity and God Himself condemns our proclamation of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ by claiming to be a Christian while contradicting the doctrine of Christ. If you keep God’s word, you honor His name; if you do not keep His word, you are denying His name. Look at Revelation 3:
8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
Notice that when Jesus addressed the Church in Revelation, He declared that the church of Philadelphia has not denied His name because they have kept His word. Anyone who takes God’s name to themselves does so in vain unless they keep His word. We can take the Lord’s name in vain by our speech, actions and even worship if we are not acting according to His word.
Vanity of Speech.
Look now at Psalm 139:
20 For they speak against You wickedly; Your enemies take Your name in vain.
We all recognize that speaking wickedly of God is taking His name in vain. This is not only using words of profanity but also saying what is wrong about God. Speaking what is wrong goes both ways. It is not only wicked to speak evil of the Lord but it is also sin to speak good when the Lord warns of judgment. We will examine the scriptures that address both of these. First we’ll look at the life of Job. When Job was in his darkest hour his friends accused Job of doing something to deserve his pain and suffering. Job’s friends claimed that God would never allow such pain to fall on a righteous man and they severely chastised Job when he claimed that he was trusting God and that this curse was by the hand of God. After their criticism of Job, God Himself spoke in Job 42:
7 And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.
God condemned those who claimed God would never test a righteous man and He said that Job, not those speaking on God’s behalf was the only one who spoke what was right. Keep in mind that Job’s friends claimed to speak the words of the Lord on God’s behalf and even claimed that God gave them a message for Job. Just because someone claims to speak in the Lord’s name means nothing. Anyone who contradicts the word is not speaking in God’s name.