Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord, Thy God, in Vain.

I think this commandment might be the most misunderstood of all the commandments. It is often misconstrued that if we don’t ‘swear’ we don’t have to worry. In all reality the swear words of our society are only mere words, they are no different than the words we substitute them with. I like to view our ‘swear’ words at more of a level of professionalism.

After doing a little research, I have learned that Lutherans and Catholics, have a different order of the ten commandments than others. I do not believe neither order is wrong. It seems to me that Catholics and Lutherans combined the first two commandments into one, and separated the last commandment into two. This puts me at a problem of where to go next, but I am, for now, going to stick with what I was raised with. I do not think either order is wrong.

The Ten Commandments: Commandment 2

The second commandment is Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, they God, in vain. The first place I am going to look is in scripture.

Exodus 20:7

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Matthew 5:33-37

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

According to Luthers Small Catechism:

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.

What does this mean?–Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are three parts:

1. The Name of the Lord is Holy

2142 The second commandment prescribes respect for the Lord’s name. Like the first commandment, it belongs to the virtue of religion and more particularly it governs our use of speech in sacred matters.

II. Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain

2151 Rejection of false oaths is a duty toward God. As Creator and Lord, God is the norm of all truth. Human speech is either in accord with or in opposition to God who is Truth itself. When it is truthful and legitimate, an oath highlights the relationship of human speech with God’s truth. A false oath calls on God to be witness to a lie.

III. The Christian Name

2156 The sacrament of Baptism is conferred “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In Baptism, the Lord’s name sanctifies man, and the Christian receives his name in the Church. This can be the name of a saint, that is, of a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord. the patron saint provides a model of charity; we are assured of his intercession. the “baptismal name” can also express a Christian mystery or Christian virtue. “Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to see that a name is not given which is foreign to Christian sentiment.

At last, I looked up what ‘in vain‘ means in the dictionary and I found:

take someone’s name in vain use someone’s name in a way that shows a lack of respect.


I don’t feel particularly prepared enough to look deeper into the meaning of this commandment. From what I have researched, it seems to be that the meaning behind the commandment is this: The Lords name is a Holy name. It is the name above all names. It is to be made worthy of praise. We are to show both fear and respect to the Lords name.  The Lords name should not be used in a way that doesn’t give God glory.

I believe it can be taken a bit further than the words that come out of our mouthes. As christians we represent the Lords name. We are taking the Lords name to represent Him through us. At any moment that we do something that isn’t pleasing to the Lord, is when we take His name in vain. So it is not just in our words that we take the Lords name in vain, but it is through our actions as well.

Before posting about this commandment I thought it was the one I followed the best. I never swear, and I never say the Lords name in vain (shouldn’t say never, but not very often. Only in them aching moments). I now realize it is beyond our words, but also through our actions that we can take the Lords name in vain. I’m guilty.


A quick update:

Many hours in the day after I initially posted this, I went out to eat with my family for my grandmas birthday. We went to Godfathers pizza. As soon as my little cousin, 7 or 8 years old, read the name of the place he got super upset! He turned to me and just started ranting in a whisper. The only thing I could catch from all that he said “Gods name is holy”, “How can a pizza place use Gods name?!” and than he started singing a song that related to how precious Gods name is. Later while in the restaurant, he threw a small fit about how they were using the Lords name in vain, and that he didn’t like that. Two things started going threw my mind, one I was thinking how ironic it was that I just blogged about that today, and two, I was extremely curious if he was right, that Godfathers was using the Lords name in vain. I don’t have an answer to that question, but Jesus did often speak of how we should have faith like a child’s. So if my little cousin, a child, is accusing them of taking the Lords name in vain, it is hard for me not to join them. Thoughts?


Ten Commandments:

  1. Thou Shalt Have No Other gods
  2. Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord, Thy God, in vain.
  3. Remember the Sabbath Day by Keeping it Holy
  4. Honor Your Father and Mother
  5. Thou shalt not kill.
  6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  7. Thou shalt not steal.
  8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his. 

Memory Verse of the Week:

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,


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5 thoughts on “Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord, Thy God, in Vain.

  1. From the mouth of babes! God spoke through a donkey, today the Holy Spirit is like a still quite voice! A child’s simple mind does not need to reason as an adult, you are making a way for him and it seems as if he is surrounded by a cloud of many witnesses. So keep it up, stay the course and pray continuously… Amen?

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