Exodus 20:7 Do not take the name of the Lord in Vain

"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain." Exodus 20:7


  • This is the Third of the Ten Commandments.
    • The first commandment was to have no other gods before the true God.
    • The second commandment was to not make images of God and bow down to them.
    • This third commandment deals with His name ~ You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
    • Why would this be a command?  Why would God command us to be careful how we use His name? Why would He punish people who take His name in vain?
    • The answer is simple.  It is because God is Holy, pure, perfect, and righteous.
    • To use His name is to bring attention to who He is.
    • To use His name means that you are acknowledging His existence.
    • To use His name is to call upon the One has proclaimed who and what He is by His name.
  1. What is God's name?
    1. In the Hebrew, there are four consonants used to spell God's name.  In English we see them as YHWH. We pronounce them as Jehovah or Yahweh.
    2. The name Jehovah comes from the Hebrew verb to be.
    3. In Exodus 3:14, Moses was at the burning bush and he asked God what His name was.  God replied, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you."
      1. God is the infinite being.  He is the one who inhabits eternity.  Psalm 90:2 says, "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God."
      2. God is the one who inhabits eternity.  He is the eternal being.
      3. He didn’t say His name was Frank, or Bob.
      4. He did not say his name was Baal, Krishna, or Allah, which are all names given to false god’s by people.
      5. His name is the transcendent, the eternal, the continuously present and holy pronouncement of "I AM"
      6. We see this as Yahweh, or Jehovah.
    4. The exact pronunciation of God's name has been lost, but when you call upon His name, you are calling upon Him.
    5. Using His name in any form should be taken with great seriousness.
  2. The name of God is Holy because it is self given.
    1. It comes from God's own mouth and God is holy.  Therefore, the name is holy.
    2. God did not adopt the name that some group of people gave to Him.
      1. He disclosed His own name.
    3. When you are born, your parents give you a name.
      1. This is because they are over you, because there was a time when you did not exist and your parents needed something to call you. So they named you.
      2. Adam was given dominion over the animals and He was given the right to name them.
    4. But no one has dominion over God.  No one has the right to name God.
    5. God has always existed and He knows who He is.
      1. He is the eternal one. He is the creator.  He is the one who has always been.  He is the one who was existing before the creation of the universe and before time existed.  He is the great, "I AM."
    6. Out of God's own nature, out of His own heart, He disclosed His holy name to us.  It is self given.  His name is Holy and is not to be used in a vain way.
  3. God commands us not to use His name in vain.
    1. The NIV translates it as, "Do no misuse the name of the LORD."  But most Bibles say, ‘Do not use the name of the LORD in vain.’
    2. The word vain is the Hebrew word shav.  It has a variety of translations including emptiness, vanity, falsehood, nothingness, emptiness of speech, lying, and worthlessness.
      1. To misuse God's name means literally, "to lift it up to or attach it to emptiness."
      2. No one is to use the Lord's name in this manner.

      Preamble this with a comment about the following examples about being careful to not use God's name even by citing examples.

    3. Perhaps you've heard unbelievers use God's name in vain.
      1. They might say, "Oh G-d!" Or "J-sus!" or "J-sus Chri-st!" "GD-it."
    4. We Christians can easily see how wrong this is.
    5. Unfortunately, I have heard many Christians use God's name in vain and think nothing of it.
      1. God wants you to guard your words and make sure you are not using God’s name in vain even in normal conversation.
      2. Check yourself to make sure you don’t use God’s name as an expression of surprise, anger, casual mention, or something in jest.
    6. God’s name is too holy for that.
  4. Conclusion
    1. The unbeliever can call upon God’s name in their hour of need.
    2. The unbeliever can discuss the nature and existence of God and in so doing mention His name.
    3. But it is only the Christian, who truly has the right to use God’s name.
    4. This is because of the Cross.
    5. Because of the Cross we have access to the throne.
    6. Because of the Cross we can pronounce the name of Yahweh without fear.
    7. Because of the Cross we can know that the Lord hears us.
    8. Because of the Cross you have the right, the privilege, and the responsibility even more so than anyone else in the world, to use God’s name in reverence and fear.
    9. The Great I AM hears you at all times.  Do not use the name of the Lord in vain.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.