By CRAIG HARRIS
The first two commandments tell us that God wants to be our one and only God. He wants first place in our hearts and in our lives. He is jealous when we bow to another god or create a god. God wants a relationship with us and wants us to love him with all of our hearts. The third commandment tells us to remember his holiness.
Exodus 20: 7 (NIV): "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
The King James version says “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”. How do you take someone's name in vain? Vain means empty or useless or unsuccessful, so to take a name in vain is to misuse it.
We misuse God's name in three basic ways: First, we misuse his name when we make a vow to him that we do not intend to keep. Malachi 1: 11 says, “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations.” We must understand the holiness of God and how seriously he takes it when we disrespect his name. It is not an accident that Jesus began the model prayer acknowledging the holiness of God's name.
Second, we misuse God's name by swearing by it, then breaking our word. Leviticus 19:12 says, “Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.” You will recall that Jesus said not to swear at all. Let your yes be yes and your no, no, he said.
The third way we misuse God's name is to attach it to a curse word to strengthen it or to use it as a curse word. It has become common for people to say “Oh my god.” We text OMG. But we may not realize we are profaning God's title when we do this and thereby making his name more and more common and less and less set apart and holy. Using Jesus' precious name as an expletive does the same thing. As God said, he will not hold us guiltless for this. God is holy and so is his name. We must approach God will all honor and respect. After all, he deserves it.