Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
~ Ex 20:7
The 2nd and 3rd Commandments are unique in the respect that both of them have some type of punishment associated with them. The 2nd Commandment says God will visit the iniquity of the fathers up to the 4th generation. The 3rd Commandment states that God will not hold the person who uses His Name in vain guiltless. No other of the 10 Commandments have curses directly associated with them. By contrast, only 2 Commandments have blessings associated with them (1 with an actual promise). Isn’t it interesting that it would seem that these 4 are the ones that people most casually break?
Perhaps none are taken more lightly than the 3rd and 4th Commandments in today’s culture. Yet, even those who proclaim the Law has been done away will sometimes attend church on Sunday. Yet, how often do they casually use the expression “Oh my God!” or similarly use our Savior’s name as a mere expression? And, even if they do not themselves use it, how often will they sit through a movie or hang around people who do use these expressions and much worse?
There is a short video on “Oh My God TV” which illustrates the problem quite well. It doesn’t go far enough, though, in my opinion.
Yes, it gets worse. It seems that there are those who will pawn off such rubbish as “prayer”! Can you imagine it? Someone expresses “Oh my God”, and it is called a “prayer”! I actually heard a preacher on the radio state such after 9/11. Care to comment about this? Which is worse, in your opinion: The one who blasphemes or the one who tries to pardon the blasphemy?
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
~ Isa 5:20
I’m not a big fan of Way of the Master (WOTM), but there are a couple of things they do correctly. They point out that blasphemy is using God’s Name as a cuss word. When you blaspheme, you are taking the Name of the One Who gave you life, good air to breathe, pleasant food to eat, wonderful flowers and enjoyable nature and are using His Name to display disgust towards something. Instead of a foul curse word, you are using God’s Name in its place. I agree wholeheartedly with their assessment on this. IMO, it would be better to use the actual curse word.
However, there is another dimension to this that is often overlooked. Even WOTM will point this out, but only when someone disagrees with their particular theology. By making claims about what God and His Word says, if you are wrong, then you are using God’s Name in vain. IOW, by teaching false doctrines and turning away from the true faith, you are guilty of breaking the 3rd Commandment. Even your conduct can be a form of blasphemy!
Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?
For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
~ Rom 2:23-24
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
~ 1Ti 1:18-20
Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
~ 1Ti 6:1
The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
~ Tit 2:3-5
So, beloved brethren, I think you can see that the 3rd Commandment is as much about keeping God’s Name elevated so high that our conduct reflects His values as it is about not using His Name as a curse word.
This Commandment should flow from the 1st Commandment very easy. If you love someone, you wouldn’t use their name in disgust, would you? Do boyfriends and girlfriends use each other’s names to express dismay or abhorrence? No, of course not! They have such a high regard for each other that that type of action would be unthinkable. Shouldn’t we regard God as Someone Who is even much higher and that much more worthy of honor?