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Bible verses about The Third Commandment
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The third commandment is certainly against common swearing, including using euphemisms so common in society. Many commonly use "gee," "gosh," "golly," "got all muddy," "cheese and rice," "Jiminy Cricket," and "doggone" to substitute for the more offensive words some carelessly spew forth. This commandment also covers the light or disrespectful use of any of God's attributes or character.

All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible, by Herbert Lockyer, lists 364 names and titles just for Jesus Christ. Through His names and titles, God has chosen to reveal His attributes, office, authority, prerogatives, and will. Each name of God features some distinct virtue or characteristic of His nature. Thus, God has declared the glory of His nature by His names, which are not to be abused.

It is this commandment more than any other that shows how much God should be a part of our every word, deed and attitude. It shows that the test of our spiritual cleanliness is how we use the name of God, whether in truth or vanity. It indicates that a man is better off being sincerely wrong than to be a professing Christian and deny His name by the conduct of his life.

To help us know David, the Bible shows him as a shepherd, warrior, king, prophet, poet, musician and sinner, each a part of a rich nature. God is manifold times greater, yet He reveals Himself, His nature, just as the Bible reveals David. We see God in a multitude of circumstances, revealing what He is by the way He acts and reacts. He also names Himself what the circumstances reveal of Him, so whenever we see that name, it also brings to mind an aspect of His nature. Thus, He gives us a double-barreled revelation of Himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 20:7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God obliged to Moses' request, but how did He do it? How did He show Moses His glory? 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 not remain with them because Israel deserved His presence in any way, shape, or form, as 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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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 43:6-7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We who bear the name of God are witnesses that our God is God. What do our lives declare about God? If we who bear His name fail to live up to that name's reputation, we break the third commandment and profane the name of God. We hallow or profane God's name by our conduct, no matter what member of our body errs. This commandment tests the quality of our witness. It changes hypocrisy from merely "bearing false witness" to idolatry, for which God holds the offender guilty, for He sees what men may miss in judgment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Isaiah 43:10-12   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Here, the third commandment comes into play. The third commandment involves the quality of our personal witness; we are commanded not to blaspheme, profane, trample upon the name of our God by means of our words, actions, and attitudes. We represent Him, bearing His name as His children. We have a sacred responsibility to uphold the quality of His name—the highest name of any name in all of the Creation.

The church is not a great nation or a military power. It is not a cultural institution organized to change this world. We exist solely to glorify God through our witness for Him. The primary witness is the way we live our lives. Each believer is a witness before the world of the worth of his relationship with the great God of heaven. In making this witness through personal conduct and preaching, we carry out God's purpose.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 1)


 

Isaiah 48:1-2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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)


 

Matthew 5:33-37   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus says that His brothers and sisters should not even be using such seemingly mild exclamations as "Good heavens!" They are unnecessary, and more than that, Satan and his anti-God attitudes influence them.

Certainly, church members are not using four-letter words or blaspheming or profaning God's name. In part, the third commandment—prohibiting taking God's name in vain—deals with such matters. Rather, the words that some complain about are of another type: mild or watered-down versions of God's names or crude words for certain body parts or bodily functions. Though this sensitive theme may embarrass or offend, it needs to be covered.

For those who might be new to this subject, it is necessary to give warning about "substitute" swearwords such as "gosh," "golly," "jeez," "shoot," "shucks," "heck," "darn," and others. Such words are called euphemisms, literally "good speech." It does not take much thought to figure out what words these exclamations are substitutes for. We do not need them! The English language contains thousands of benign yet descriptive words and expressions that convey the same feeling or reaction.

Yet for those whose speech habits are deeply ingrained, it can be hard. Many of us have used bad language freely and frequently before conversion. Many of us are surrounded by foul language at work every day. A friend told me that, upon starting a job "in the world" after spending four years at Ambassador College, he was plagued by swearwords constantly coming to the tip of his tongue for the least little problem!

I do not wish to appear self-righteous in discussing this sensitive subject. I am not pointing a finger at others. Like many church members, I work in an office where I cannot even enjoy a cup of coffee with my coworkers because the air so frequently turns blue with bad language and filthy subject matter. Some of the women are as bad as the men—in some cases, worse! It can rub off on us and, like the proverbial frog in hot water, we can gradually come to accept gutter-language as the norm. We can become calloused to it, and we can allow it to creep into our everyday conversation.

Staff
Swear Not at All!


 

Matthew 6:9   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

To hallow God's name means to make it holy or set it apart for holy use, respecting it greatly. We hallow His name by obeying Him in all our conduct. Conversely, prayer without obedience is a form of blasphemy (Matthew 7:21, Mark 7:6-7), as is praise offered to God in the attitude of rebellion against His way. It is vain or vanity—useless and contemptible.

Martin G. Collins
The Third Commandment


 

Matthew 11:25-27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Moses asked to see the visible glory of God, and He proclaimed His name verbally. Jesus is saying, "If you want to see the mind and nature of God, if you want to see His attitudes, look at Me." God reveals Himself and declares His glory to us through the life, works, and words of Jesus of Nazareth as He opens our minds by His Holy Spirit.

Jesus is "the way" because of all mankind, only He, unmarred by sin, has intimate knowledge of God. Knowing God depends on our knowledge of the truth about Jesus. He shows the way we must walk, the direction and manner of living and relating to others. This is precisely the knowledge Jesus gives. Many times when we ask directions in a strange city, the response confuses us because we are unfamiliar with the town. But when we ask directions of Jesus, He says, "Come, follow Me, and I will take you there."

Some people may teach truth, but He embodies truth; He is "the truth." A man may teach geometry, and his character may not affect his teaching. But if one teaches moral truth, character is paramount. Keeping the third commandment properly revolves around knowing the truth about God and His way.

Colossians 1:15; 2:9 are among the strongest statements in the Bible about the divine nature of Jesus: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . . For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." He not only is equal to and reflects God, but He also reveals God to us because He is God. He is completely holy and has authority to judge the world.

We can have no clearer view of God than by looking at Christ. He is the full revelation of God to man. He is the complete expression of God in a human body. He is unique: God became a man, imposing upon Himself the same time-space limitations as other men.

He had every opportunity to waste time, get sick, eat gluttonously and become overweight, drink and experience a hangover, "fly off the handle" in anger, or attack others when someone pricked His vanity. He could have become bitter from rejection or depressed when things did not go His way. He could have worked or played with intense competitiveness to "win at all costs." He had to face death, His own as well as of loved ones. He could have felt "the deck was stacked" against Him.

The gospels show God coping with life on the same terms as men. Now we can really see what kind of character God possesses. Jesus' life gives us firsthand knowledge of what the true way of life is, allowing us to cooperate with Him in His purpose. Among many other things, we see God teaching, healing, sacrificing His life, correcting in love, guarding His flock, and patiently counseling.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Matthew 28:19-20   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The third commandment involves the quality of our personal witness of everything God's name implies. His name represents His position as Creator, Lifegiver, Provider, Ruler, and Sustainer, as well as His character, power, and promises. As Matthew 28:19-20 shows, "God" became our spiritual Family name upon regeneration by His Spirit, and thus we have a responsibility to grow and uphold that name's reputation by bringing honor upon it by our words, deeds, and attitudes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Matthew 28:19   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We have been baptized into the name. Since being baptized and receiving God's Holy Spirit, we bear that same name! It is our spiritual Family name—God!

Does that have any effect on the way that we conduct our lives? Do we ever think that we bear that name? No, most of the time, we think only of the name that has been passed on to us by our fathers or the name that we have taken due to marriage. We are now immersed into the Family of God and bear the name of God. Even as a son physically bears the name of his father, we now have this spiritual family name.

The first commandment has to do with what we worship—the Almighty Creator. The second commandment deals with how we worship: We worship in spirit and in truth. The third commandment covers the quality of our personal witness to everything that the name we bear implies.

Proverbs 22:1 says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold." One's name might be considered a person's most valuable asset. Since we bear the name of God, it is most precious. The third commandment says, "You shall not bear the name of the LORD your God in vain."

What are we doing to uphold the Family name? Are we guiltless? Are we clean in our bearing of it? What is our witness like before men? What is our witness like before God? These questions need to be asked, now that we know that we bear that name. How high of a quality is our Christian lives?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Holiness (Part 1)


 

John 17:26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

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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