A Misunderstood Commandment

Bible Book: Exodus  20 : 7
Subject: God, Name of; Name of God

As children In Sunday school we have all learned the Ten Commandments. We would repeat, at least parts, of almost all the commandments as a part of the learning process. However, even as adults, we still may not see the depth of God’s meaning in these commandments.

The New King James version renders 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. The New Living Translation renders it, “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.”

Now what does God want us to learn from this commandment?


In our world, in most cases, the meaning of a name isn’t considered too much when we name our children. My parents gave no thought at all the meaning of my name when they named me Herman. In fact, the name was suggested by a nurse in the hospital where I was born. Now, that doesn’t mean that my parents were uncaring. My Mother temporarily lost her eyesight while pregnant with me. In fact, the doctor told my Dad that, most likely, neither of us would live. So not much thought was given to naming the baby.

But in the Hebrew world things were different. A person’s name could not be separated from reality. The name had to do with his very being. Therefore, it could not be taken lightly. Therefore, we must remember the importance of His name when using it.

Most of us associate the misuse of God’s name with the use of profanity and this is a very big part of the problem. It makes the Christian’s heart ache when he hears the name of his Lord used in profanity. But the problem goes even deeper than the use of a curse and God issues a warning to all of us to be very careful as to how we use the name of our God.


One’s name stands for his character and reputation. When we say someone has a “bad name” we are not talking about the name written on his birth certificate. We are saying that person can’t be trusted.

Since God is the greatest being in the universe, His Name is the greatest name and should be honored. The first petition in what we call the Lord’s Prayer is: HALLOWED BE THY NAME, Matthew6:9.

People misuse God’s Name by the use of profanity, but there are many other ways His Name is misused. Let’s look at the prevalent misuse of His Name.


A. Profanity and Vulgarity

God’s name is misused in profanity and vulgarity - the cursing, abusive, bitter, blasphemous use of God’s Name. Profanity is a terrible thing when it is used to curse God Himself or is used to curse someone else. This is an insult in the face of God. God’s Name is Holy and stands above every other name.

The point is that God’s Name should cause us to stand in awe before Him. God’s Holy Name should move us to reverence, fear and tremble before Him. Or have we forgotten this because we have become over familiar with Him?

B. Lying Under Oath

God’s Name is misused by lying under oath. Calling upon God o witness a lie is misusing God’s Name. This can happen before a neighbor, a business partner a husband, a wife, a judge or a jury.

C. Irreverence

God’s Name is misused when used in some irreverent ways. How does one do this? Reverence is the KEY word. When God’s Name is used, it is always to be used in a reverent way. All the little sayings that use God’s Name are wrong. Do you remember some of these - “THE MAN UPSTAIRS,” “OH MY GOD,” “SWEET JESUS,” and “JESUS CHRIST?” All these used in a flippant way illustrate the MISUSE of God’s Name. God’s Name is to be worshipped and praised.

D. Hypocrisy

God’s Name is misused by hypocrisy. In other words, a person who professes to be a Christian but does not live a Christian life before the world. This can also be a person who uses God’s Name to manipulate people to get what he wants. We see this at times in people who use God’s Name to get followers and deceive people. The Bible says in Matthew 7:21-23, 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ (NLT)

We need to make a new commitment in our lives to honor God and to honor his name. You don’t want your name misused, misspelled, or slandered. If it is important to you, how much more important is it to God? Let us this day bow before Him and recommit our lives to Him and our lips to the honor of His name!