The Third Commandment – Carrying His Name in Vain

This study touches on subjects that have been gone over in detail in previous studies. Before going over this study, please make sure you have a complete understanding of the the study on The First Commandment – No Other gods on My Face, and The Second Commandment – No Idols.

“You shall not take the name of the YHVH your God in vain, for YHVH will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”     Exodus 20:7

I have always understood that taking the name of God in vain means cussing or saying “Oh my God” as an exclamation. Is this true? The answer can be found through understanding what it means to cause something to become vain. The Hebrew word for vain is “sawe” or “shav” and means worthlessness, vanity, or falseness. When we use God’s name as an exclamation, can you say that it brings worthlessness, vanity, or falseness to His name? Sure. However, I think that this easy answer is just on the surface of what it means to take the name of YHVH in vain.

When looking deeper into the meaning of this commandment we need to look at a word that is often overlooked. The word take in the Hebrew is “nasa”, and it means to bear or to carry. Do you realize that when you vow to covenant yourself to YHVH you vow to carry His name on you? What does this look like? 

Carrying the name of YHVH is carrying who He is on you. Consider what it means to carry your surname. People can say of the “Jones’s” that they are a very political family. People can say of the “Smith’s” that they are a very wealthy family. Is there a legacy attached to your surname? You carry your surname and will add to its legacy. From the perspective of marriage, when a woman marries a man, she takes on his surname. Once married, the woman becomes a representative of her husband. When we accept the covenant of YHVH, we vow to bear His name. We are to become perfect representatives of who He is. This has been the plan from the beginning. When YHVH created man, He created him in His image. YHVH created man to be an image of Him, or perfect representatives of Him.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.      Genesis 1:27


Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of YHVH has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but YHVH will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.     Isaiah 60:1-3

We are to be lights to the world. If we are being lights, we are proclaiming YHVH to the world. Because actions speak louder than words, our lives and the way we live are examples of who YHVH is. When we make the vow to be part of YHVH’s family – to take His name – we are show Him to the world through how we live our lives.

Consider the examples your life shows. Are you representing or misrepresenting YHVH? Do you keep you word? What types of  words come out of your mouth? What subjects do you talk about? What do you do with your free time? What types of attitudes do you wear? How do you treat others? Are these things something YHVH Himself would do?

In the past, I have found myself saying things like, “I don’t think God would mind if I…” By making this statement, it became too easy to justify the things I wanted to do. I have found that when when I ask, “Would YHVH Himself do this?” I am unable to get away with some of the sins I allowed in my life. By changing the way I look at the things I do, I am reminded that I am to bear His name.

We are examples of who YHVH is to others. If we bear His name in vain, we are in essence teaching others another god. This is why YHVH says,

“…for YHVH will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

This is serious. When looking at this commandment in light of what I have learned in the first two commandments, it becomes clear why YHVH would say this. When you break the third commandment, it is because you have already broken the first two. Remember, the first commandment is all about knowing who it is you worship. If you don’t know who He is, how are you going to represent Him? The second statement has a lot to do with keeping His commandments. His commandments represent who He is; they tell us what He likes and what He dislikes. If we aren’t at least trying to fulfill the first two commandments, we have already failed in keeping the third commandment.

What do we know about YHVH that you can apply to your life to be an accurate representation of who He is to others? We can’t rely on what others have told us about Him, we have to read and study for ourselves. Here some things that we can list using only the first three commandments.

  • YHVH does not want to be worshiped as something or somebody He is not.
  • YHVH does not want to be worshiped in the same way as other gods.
  • YHVH wants us to know who He is.
  • YHVH wants us to be faithful to Him. He does not want us worshiping other gods.
  • YHVH does not want us creating other gods.
  • YHVH wants us to follow and guard His commandments.
  • YHVH wants us to represent Him perfectly.
  • YHVH steadfastly loves those who love Him.
  • YHVH sees our love when we protect His commandments.
  • YHVH sees our hatred for Him when we refuse to keep His commandments.
  • YHVH “visits the iniquity” of those who hate Him.

This is a good beginning, but it is not everything. There is so much more to Him. The more you know of Him, the more you will want to know. He requires this of us, but He makes it easy for us to do. Once we begin searching Him out, He puts a desire in us to continue. He puts the desire in us to know all there is to know about Him and to want to please Him. He requires this of us, but He gives us a desire if we take the first step.

I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.     Jeremiah 24:7

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