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Bible verses about Third Commandment
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:7

The third commandment regulates the quality of our worship. It involves glorifying God in every aspect of life. Most people regard the third commandment very lightly. The Jews, however, have a saying: "When God gave the third commandment, the whole world trembled." They even warned witnesses at a trial with this statement. Why? The Jews believe that because it reads, "the LORD will not hold him guiltless," there is no forgiveness for transgressing it! If it is this important, perhaps we should pay closer attention to it!

God asks, "'To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? . . . To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?' says the Holy One" (Isaiah 40:18, 25). Obviously, the second commandment expressly forbids making any representation of Him. God is unique; nothing can compare with Him. We are without a point of contact or physical reference to make any comparison.

This ought to show us the absolute folly of making images: On its face, every image is a lie. But should we not try to understand, to learn, what God is like? God does not want us concerned with what He looks like because it emphasizes the wrong area. He supplies us with enough information to know that He generally looks like a man. To Him, that is enough!

But He does want us to know what He is. He wants us to know Him. The entire Bible reveals His mind, character, attributes, offices, power, will, promises, plan, and relationship with us. The third commandment concerns this kind of knowledge and how well we apply it in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 20:7

This commandment requires serious reflection. Like the second, it includes a warning that God will not hold us guiltless. It seems that sometimes God deliberately understates things for subtle emphasis and to ultimately magnify the meaning.

To understand this commandment better, we need to explain four words:

Take, throughout the Old Testament, is translated into English from seventy-four different Hebrew words. This one means "to lift up," "bear," "carry," "use," and "appropriate."

Vain has the sense of "desolating"; "that which lacks reality, purpose, value, or truth." It may also be translated "lying," "false," "worthless," "profane," "foolish," "reproachful," "curse," "blaspheme," or "useless."

Guiltless means "free," "clear," "innocent," "clean," "blameless," "unpunished."

Name means "a mark or sign standing out"; "a word by which a person, place or thing is distinctively known." Its Hebrew root denotes "high," "elevated," "a monument." It indicates majesty or excellence. A name identifies, signifies, and specifies.

This commandment has nothing to do with the proper pronunciation of God's name, which no one knows anyway since it was lost in antiquity. It has nothing to do with superstition or magical uses of a name. Its application is far broader.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 20:7

The third commandment deals with God's name, His character, His office, His position as the great sovereign Ruler of the universe: "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; Deuteronomy 5:11). In biblical terms, personal names have a meaning, for they usually describe some aspect of the person's character. So it is with God's name. The Bible reveals Him under different names, each given with a purpose: to set forth some distinct virtue or characteristic of His nature.

In this commandment, the Hebrew word rendered "guiltless" may also be translated "clean." A person is clean or unclean according to how he uses the name of God, whether in truth or in vanity. A person who continually talks about God but denies Him in his daily life is unclean; he is guilty of breaking the law of God, a sinner. If we use God's name in a way that denies the true meaning and character of God, we break the third commandment. As we can easily see, God is greatly concerned about how we use His name.

Martin G. Collins
The Third Commandment


 

Exodus 20:7

The third commandment emphasizes the holy quality of His character and offices as identified by His names. His names reveal what He is. It is the Christian's responsibility to adorn and uphold the reputation and glory of all that those names imply. When we were regenerated, His Family name—God—became our Family name! We were baptized by the Spirit of God into that name. The third commandment therefore covers the quality of our witness in bearing that name.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Commandment


 

Exodus 34:5-7

In Exodus 33:18, Moses requests God to display His glory. How did God respond to that request? He preached him a sermon on His name! Or we could say that He expounded before Moses on the third commandment. What we have here is probably just the barest summary of what God said—the notes, as it were, of what He talked about more fully. He likely preached him a sermon on eleven names of God: Yahweh, El, the Merciful One, the Gracious One, the Longsuffering One, the Almighty, the Bountiful One, the True One, the Preserver of Abundance, He Who Takes Away Iniquity, and He Who Visits Iniquity.

What He did before Moses was rehearse His nature. It was so encouraging to Moses, because he knew then that the children of Israel would not be abandoned—that God would be with him—because of what He is. He would remain with them, though not because Israel deserved His presence in any way, shape, or form—every single one of them deserved to be dead! But because God is God, He would continue through with His purpose, and these names exemplified what He would be doing.

So God did not give Moses a vision of His majesty and power, but of His character. The glory of God is the manifestation of His nature, of His character, of His way of relating to His creation—especially to His children. His names are signposts of His nature. They are reminders to us of what we can expect Him to do. That is why Moses was so encouraged.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Holiness (Part 1)


 

Leviticus 18:21

God said these other nations had defiled themselves and the land because they had violated the third commandment, "taking the name of God in vain." We break this commandment, not only in speech, but also by using or bearing His name in an unworthy, profane way in our conduct.

Martin G. Collins
The Third Commandment


 

Psalm 8:1-4

Other translations use words like "glorious," "majestic," and "to be admired" rather than "excellent" to express the feelings generated by meditating on how God is revealed by the heavens He created! The starry heavens stretched before David showcase the awesome and spectacular majesty of God.

Commenting on verse 1, the Soncino Commentary says that God's majesty is "rehearsed above the heavens." Rehearse can mean "to repeat" or "tell in detail." David tells us that God has invested the heavens with awesome splendor to direct man's mind to ponder the Creator's existence, majesty, and excellence. This thought also implies that He is just as majestic in demonstrating Himself on earth as He is in the heavens. What excellence do we see in earth and heaven? Power, order, beauty, loving providence, wisdom, reason, logic, and vastness of thinking.

David intended this psalm to direct our thinking toward God's greatness and puny man's insignificance. However, that awesome, majestic, glorious God is glorifying Himself in man! He has chosen what the world considers weak and foolish—us—to appreciate and respect His glory, His name.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Isaiah 40:18

From the second commandment, it is obvious that God expressly forbids the making of any representation of Him. Any such picture or statue is automatically a lie because, other than knowing that we are in His physical image as to form and shape, everything else that He is cannot be expressed in a mere physical depiction.

John 1:18 confirms this truth: "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." God is unique; nothing compares with Him. There is no point of contact, no physical reference, to which a human being can compare Him, revealing the absolute folly of image-making. Even Jesus' declarations regarding God are never about what He looks like, but are all about His authority, position, purpose, character, and attributes.

However, knowing the importance of His purpose to our lives, should we not strive to learn what He is like? God does not want us concerned about what He looks like, for that puts the emphasis in the wrong area. He gives us enough information for us to know that He looks like a man—and that is enough.

However, He greatly desires that we know what He is. The entire Bible reveals His mind, character, attributes, offices, power, will, promises, plan, and relationship to us. The third commandment deals with these areas of study and application because they deeply affect the quality of our response to Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment


 

Isaiah 48:1-2

These people were standing in, that is, relying on, trusting in, the name of their bearers—both physically and spiritually. Physically, they bore the name of Israel. Spiritually, they bore the name of God. But God is complaining, here, that their actions did not live up to either the majesty of their physical or their spiritual names.

This is a warning both to physical Israel and to the Israel of God, as the church is plainly pointed out to be in Galatians 6:16. If we, who have taken (or bear) the name of God, use the name of God in any way that denies the true meaning or character of God, we are either breaking the third commandment, coming awfully close to breaking it, or we are on our way to doing so. It is interesting that the prophecies contain a great deal of revelation along this line.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Holiness (Part 1)


 

John 17:26

Does knowing the name of God have anything to do with salvation? Or, to put it another way, does the third commandment have anything to do with salvation? It has everything to do with the quality of the way that we do things, which is directly attached to knowing the name of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Holiness (Part 1)


 

Romans 2:17-24

Paul was speaking to those Jews who were not yet converted. At least, we hope that they were not yet converted and that they had opportunity yet to repent of those things. But this makes it very plain that God's name is hallowed—or profaned—by our conduct. The third commandment is kept—or broken—by the same. This is the commandment that tests the quality of our witness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Holiness (Part 1)


 

2 Corinthians 11:2

Jealousy has a well-deserved bad reputation because it is essentially self-centered. However, it has a positive aspect when the affection and passion that it contains are directed at upholding the well-deserved reputation of the one who is loved.

The third commandment bears directly on this subject. It is a command that is easily and carelessly broken unless we are continually conscious of our responsibility to bring honor upon the name of God, which we will do if we love Him. We will be jealous to uphold the reputation of His name.

John W. Ritenbaugh
How to Know We Love Christ


 

Revelation 3:12

When God resurrects us into His Kingdom, He will give us names to designate our existence, nature, and responsibility in the Kingdom. We are assured of carrying God's own name if we overcome sin. What a tremendous reward to bear His name for all eternity!

Martin G. Collins
The Third Commandment


 

 




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