Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
Another translation, NRSV says, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God”
Vain means emptiness, vanity or lying. When you abuse the name of the Lord, you make him a liar also just like you are. Flattery does render vain the perpetrator and the one lied against also. To make God a lair is crossing the red line.
In so many instances is God’s name profaned by hypocritical behaviour of people especially false prophets.
But you, make sure you do not take in vain, misuse or abuse “the name of the LORD thy God for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
The Lord’s name is holy and should be introduced into one’s speech only to bless, praise or glorify that name, anything above is from the evil one. The names (of God and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit) should be used respectfully, with an awareness of the presence of God. It must not be abused by careless speech, false oaths, or words of hatred, reproach or defiance toward God, or used in magical moments. Jesus Christ is believed to be the Messiah, this commandment is applied to the name of Jesus Christ as well.
It is a duty of every believer to reject false oaths that others might try to impose; an oath may be made false because it attests to a lie, because an illegitimate authority is requiring it, or because the purpose of the oath is contrary to God’s law or human dignity.
Matthew Henry described five categories of actions that constitute taking God’s name in vain:
1) hypocrisy – making a profession of God’s name, but not living up to that profession;
2) covenant breaking – if one makes promises to God yet does not carry out the promised actions;
3) rash swearing;
4) false swearing; and
5) using the name of God lightly and carelessly, for charms or spells, jest or sport. He pointed out that though a person may hold himself guiltless in one of these matters, the commandment specifically states that God will not.
James 5:12 says,
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.