Most people do not get the opportunity to name themselves; however, it is very different with God. Philip Graham Ryken says, “By contrast, one of the remarkable things about God is that no one ever named him…But God’s true name is chosen and revealed by God himself. We do not tell God who he is; he tells us.” God’s name is the name above all names because He is above all. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. He is supremely and powerfully the One and only God. “His supreme name was simply Yahweh, the Lord God” (Ryken).
“Do represent God’s name in vain.”
The Bible states, “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). It is very irreverent to use or represent God’s name in vain. To best understand the command to “take” His name in vain, pastor and professor Tony Merida states, “It does not mean to simply speak God’s name; it means to carry or bear God’s name. People who have publicly declared themselves to be followers of God are to exalt God’s reputation by living in a way that honors Him.” In other words, Christ-followers must not make a mockery of God’s name by the way they live their lives. Pastor Merida reminds readers that believers are to live their lives glorifying God while representing His name (Acts 4:12; Romans 10:13; 1 John 5:13).
Similarly, Kevin DeYoung says, [taking God’s name in vain] can mean “empty,” “nothing,” “worthless,” or “to no good purpose.” “We are forbidden, therefore, from taking the name of God (or taking up the name or bearing the name, as the phrase could be translated) in a manner that is wicked, worthless, or for the wrong purposes.” This involves our behavior, actions, speech, using God’s name for personal gain, or using His name falsely associated with religious practices. For example, anyone who relates God’s name to any type of lies and wicked schemes breaks the third commandment.
“His name should not be used flippantly.”
Contemporarily, most believers associate taking God’s name in vain with speech. For example, saying, “Oh my God,” or “Jesus Christ,” is irreverent toward God. DeYoung says, “Using the Lord’s name in a frivolous way would certainly include using ‘God’ or ‘Jesus Christ’ as curse words…it says something about our attitude toward God if we can speak his name lightly and carelessly. We are talking about our Creator, our Savior, our Judge, and our King. The God of the universe-the one Who Is That He Is- should not have his name tossed out flippantly as an expression of shock, outrage, or anger.” A Christ-follower’s speech is equally important as their actions; thus, they both must be God-glorifying and God-honoring.
The third commandment directly commands people not to use God’s name in vain. As mentioned, there are multiple ways that people violate this command. Using God’s name other than in reverence or glorifying Him is disrespectful and dishonoring to Him. Our speech is not the only way we dishonor Him. In fact, our lifestyle also can bring dishonor and irreverence to His name. Let us focus on God and honor Him with our lives in speech and our behavior. The good news is that if we have been dishonoring God through our speech and behavior, we can turn from our ways and turn to Jesus in repentance. He promises that He will forgive our sins (1 John 1:9) and delight in fellowship with His followers.
How are you honoring God with your speech?
Are you being mindful of the things you say that may be dishonoring to Him?
Is your lifestyle contradicting your profession of faith in Jesus?
Kevin DeYoung, The Ten Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them.
Tony Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus In Exodus, Holman Reference.
Philip Graham Ryken, Written In Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis