What does it mean to misuse God’s name?

What do you make of the famous third commandment?

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. — Exodus 20:7

How do you understand this command? Is it talking about profanity and swearing? Can you misuse God’s name without saying anything at all?

Share your thoughts!

8 Responses to “What does it mean to misuse God’s name?”

  • Rev. Robert Boswell says:

    Thanks for asking this question. – I have come to realize in recent years that respecting God’s name is a major component of righteousness. When I say righteousness I mean the kind that is mentioned in Matthew 6:33 or Matthew 5:4,10 or Matthew 25:37 or Romans 6:16,18,19. It is a kind of righteousness that you must seek, hunger, and thirst after, because it comes from God. Try meditating (Psalm 1 style, not just yoga style) upon those versus I just mentioned and add Isaiah 6:5, John 1:1, Genesis 1:3 (see also Job 1:8, 27:6, and 29 as a man who had the righteousness of God imparted to Him by God’s own will and word, similar to Isaiah in Isaiah 6). Then check out creation especially think about where DNA came from (checkout http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/ifyoucanreadthis.htm).
    Words are very important to God he used them to create everything and he invented them so that we could even know that He did it; so that we could know His mind and His will. God condescended in a huge way to invent language (codes words sentences) so that one of his creatures namely humanity could fathom and explore what just happened. The all knowing God of all decided He wanted us to know what he did. To transfer a thought to us without forcing us to innately know all things as He knows all things He invented words (and a tree of knowledge in Genesis if you get my drift…) Anyway NAMES are a high category of words that demand respect because they label the things our “Holy, Holy Holy” God created, which if you haven’t figured it out already “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” is that same God who spoke it all into existence. He condescended in an utterly amazing way AND allowed us to know His name. So His name is the name above all names. HE invented all other words and meaning just so we could know His name. The entire universe would lose its meaning, if all mankind took God’s name in vain AND that is why it is the THIRD commandment. The second commandment is similar except before there were human words there was stuff that the words describe. All that stuff is held together by the WORD of God. That stuff was also created with a purpose. The purpose is to give glory back to God NOT to receive glory from humanity, which incidentally was put in charge of all the stuff and held accountable for stewarding it all. However, let’s keep to the question asked above.
    Anyway you I would not like it if you came up to me and said, “I just went to the bathroom and left a big Rob Boswell in the bowl.” That would be taking my name in vain. I think it would make me a little angry, but I could turn the other cheek. However, it would get harder to do that the more you said it and the more you taught other people to say it. OR what if you taught my own daughter to say that to me, at that point I would probably start praying imprecatory prays against you in hopes that God would heap coals on your head. Good thing this is a blog. Imagine what God the Father must think of the idiot who takes His name in vain. Thank God for Romans 6:23b.
    NOW read Exodus 20:7 and ask God, “Why in the world do you want me to know this?”
    Tremble in awe of the price God has paid to reveal His name and His WORD to us. JESUS, JESUS, JESUS! Lord God Almighty. Shalom.

  • Isiah says:

    I have long be curious about this topic. I personally believe that while this verse means not to use the lord’s name as profane, it also means not to justify what is not righteous with god’s name.

  • Roslyn K. says:

    Our mighty Lord’s name means so many things. His name is Holy, Loving, Forgiving, All Powerful and All Knowing… I love the Lord’s name and I tell my husband and daughter over and over again how IMPORTANT the Lord’s name is. His name means action and results…. I can only pray that my family will one day understand this before it is too late in Jesus Mighty Name…. Amen

  • Ken says:

    Thank you brothers and sisters for your enthusiasm! The Lord started pricking my heart about this a few years ago and, when I tell people about this lovingly, they don’t always believe it. We have to ask where they are in their walk with the Lord. To use God’s name in vain means to use it in such a way that there is no awe, no resepct, no fear of God. The key things Jesus taught me is SO strong and SO rampant now: Oh My God! People use this ALL THE TIME in TV, movies, everyday life. Why this phrase? What do they mean when they utter them? You see, it means nothing to people. It just comes right off the tongue and over the lips and out of the mouth. God is King. God created the world and everything in it. Do we even grasp what a king is? Do we truly understand and submit to authority? Things to ponder!!! God Bless us as we seek Him!

  • Beverly says:

    I believe it means using God’s name for your own purposes. Using his name selfishly. i.e. twisting a scripture to justify some behavior of your own and putting his stamp or seal of approval. Saying OMG would fall under this too, as you are still using God’s name for your own pleasure, own purpose. Saying God led you to do something that he never led you to do would also be using his name for your purposes.

  • Yinnie Jones says:

    I know that using the Lord’s name as in OMG as a figure of speech is a sin, but is saying gosh or golly still mean taking His name in vain?, I have a friend that says any derivitive such as gosh or golly is still refering to God.
    Who is right?

  • Lisa says:

    I believe God’s name is worship, and when we call upon the name of the Lord we are worshiping HIM. Therefore if we misuse it, we are making a mockery of worship and blasephimg his Holy praise. I believe words have power and the calling on the name of God is most powerful, for it save us from Satan’s grip.

  • al says:

    God isn’t his name- it’s his title. Saying Jesus Christ is sinful, not OMG. Any of his other names used would be a sin, but not G**damn.