Honor God—Or Dishonor Yourself
The life and legacy of Moses
Dr. Jim Denison
The Third Commandment states, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7). As with the other commandments, “you” is plural, so that this commandment applies to every one of us, with no exceptions.
“Shall not” shows that this is a commandment, not just a suggestion or principle for life. It is as important to God as the commandments not to murder or commit adultery. This is crucial to God.
“Misuse” means to take his name “in vain.” The word means “groundlessly, emptily, without basis,” and includes frivolous, insincere, or unjustified use of the name of God. Its original context was legal in nature. When a person testified before the elders or council, he was to speak “in the name of God.” This was something like our oath “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” The commandment was not to promise truth “in God’s name,” then lie or deceive.