You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (NIV)
You shall not take the name of the LORD your Godin vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Exodus 20.7 (ESV)
Thomas Watson. (1620-1686) was one of the most popular preachers in London during the Puritan era and authored three books expounding the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the second of which was on the Ten Commandments and their supreme importance for right living of the Christian life. This morning I draw on Watson’s own words to assist our understanding of this third commandment regarding ‘taking God’s name in vain, which, I suspect, we have either limited to swearing or almost disregarded completely, even as Christians!
Here are Watsons headings to challenge us.
We take God’s name in vain when:
1. We speak lightly and irreverently of his name.
2. When we profess God’s name but do not live answerably to it.
3. When we use God’s name in idle discourse.
4. When we worship him with our lips but not with our hearts.
5. When we pray to him, but do not believe in him.
6. When in any way we profane and abuse his word.
7. When we swear by God’s name.
8. When we prefix God’s name to any wicked action.
9. When we use our tongues any way to the dishonour of God’s name.
10. When we make rash and unlawful vows.
11. When we speak evil of God.
12. When we falsify our promise; as when we say, if God spare our life we will do a certain thing, and never intend it.
Watson expands each of these twelve areas in some depth but I offer just his headings this morning that we might think about the breadth and depth of this commandment. As all are linked with speaking it might be helpful to consider them with the words of James about the tongue (James 3.1-12).
A Prayer from Psalm 19.14.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer