The Third Commandment - Do not misuse God's name

Do not misuse God's name


The relationship based on love and respect that we have with our parents mirrors our relationship with God, our spiritual Father. Just as our parents give us rules and obligations to follow for our benefit, so does our spiritual Father. These guidelines are God’s instruction on how to have a better life now and provide us the opportunity for eternal life in the future! God’s instructions are found in His Ten Commandments. These commandments teach us the proper relationship we should have towards God and our fellow human beings. This discussion guide will help the user understand how observing the third commandment is essential in developing that proper relationship with God.

The Third Commandment Stated

We show our love to God by honoring and obeying Him. We should respect and worship Him to the greatest of our abilities. One of the most important ways to respect God is found in the Third Commandment. The Third Commandment concerns the sanctity of God’s name. We are commanded by God to honor and respect His name: "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" (Exodus 20:7). "Vain" means empty, useless, false, unreal, and worthless. In short, taking God’s name in vain refers to the abuse, misuse, blasphemy, cursing, or manipulation of the Lord’s name. So, use of God’s name in vain involves:
1. Trivializing His name by looking at it as being insignificant. Give an example.
2. Trying to use it to advance negative purposes (the way priests of false religions used the names of their false gods). Give an example.
3. Using it in worship thoughtlessly. Give an example.
4. Using profanity or blasphemy is obvious violations of the 3rd Commandment. Sometimes people substitute words (euphemisms) for the name of God. For example, "Gee" or "Golly" is sometimes used in exclamations.
5. What other euphemisms have you heard?
6. Do you think using euphemisms violates the spirit of the 3rd commandment? Why or why not?

The Third Commandment as it Relates to our Relationship with God

II TIMOTHY 2:19: "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
ROMANS 2:21-24: "… You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, 'Do not commit adultery,' do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For 'the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,' as it is written."
Can a person disobey the other commandments without breaking the third commandment? How does one break the third commandment by not obeying the rest of God's Law?
LEVITICUS 22:31-32: "Therefore you shall keep My commandments and perform them: I am the Lord. You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel."
According to The New Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, the term "to honor" means "to treat with significance." To treat something with significance is the opposite of taking something "in vain."
Give some examples of the positive use of God's name.
The commandment includes a stern warning to those who would take His name in vain (Exodus 20:7). Why do you think God feels so strongly about His name?
COMMENT: Why would you find it offensive if others were to treat your name disrespectfully? Names identify and instruct as to what something is. We all want good and honorable things associated with our names, because our names are reflections of who we are. All agree that a strong relationship is based upon respect. One of the most important ways to respect God is by reverencing His name. He tells us not to only obey Him, but also to hold His name as holy.
King David was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). What was his attitude toward God's name? Read Psalm 145.
How do you think a person will treat Christ's name when he or she realizes that salvation is only through Jesus' name (John 20:31; Acts 2:21; 4:12), that we receive the Holy Spirit in His name (John 14:26), and that God will answer prayers in His name (John 16:23)?

God's Names

The Bible reveals a number of God's names. "El" means the Almighty or God the Omnipotent. "Elohim" is the plural form of El. "Jehovah" is the common spelling of the Hebrew name of God which means the Eternal or the Immutable One. He lives forever and His character never changes. "Jesus" means, appropriately, "Jehovah the Savior." "Christ" means "the Anointed" as were priests, prophets and kings in Israel. Each name or title reveals something of God's character or divine nature. Find the name or title of God in each of the following scriptures. What does each name/title reveal about God? What does each name reveal about His relationship to each of us?
Exodus 15:26
Psalm 23:1
Exodus 17:15
Jeremiah 23:6
Exodus 31:13
Revelation 19:11
I Samuel 1:3
Revelation 19:13
Psalm 7:17
Revelation 19:16


1. What is our culture's attitude toward the use of God's name? Do the people you come into contact with have a reverence for God's name or do they use His name in vain?
2. What is your reaction when you hear someone use God's name thoughtlessly or without respect?
3. What have you learned about using God's name properly and improperly?
4. Why is obedience to the 3rd Commandment vital to a positive personal relationship with God?
5. Will all people some day show honor to God's name? HINT: Read Psalm 145 again.
In Matthew 22:40 Christ asserts the proper attitude we should have towards God: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment." To love God is to respect and honor Him. God loves us just as our parents do. Like our parents, He shows us His love by instructing and guiding us. Our relationship with Him can be peaceful and strong if we follow His instruction with respect and loyalty. Reverencing God in all ways is how we show our respect and loyalty. Since God is good, all good things should be associated with Him and, that includes His name. We are well blessed for having a proper relationship with God. God intends that we bear His name someday (Revelation 3:12; 14:1)! Our blessing is becoming part of the God family and living with Him in His Kingdom forever. It is a reward of eternal life!


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