The Third Commandment

May 3, 2020
Deuteronomy 5:11

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will
not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
The Hebrew reads, lo’ tissa et-shem-Adonia el-lo-hey-kha la-shav.
• Not you shall carry the Name of Adonai your God to vanity.
Atheism is the greatest religion if not worshiping idols is the greatest good.
Because atheists believe in the lack of the existence of a God or gods.
So, if the goal of the first two commandments was only to teach people not
to worship other gods…
Then what religion could be purer than atheism?
But not worshiping other gods wasn’t (isn’t) the goal…
It is worshiping and serving the One true God.
And nobody can worship or serve God while taking His name in vain.
This is why God attaches His most rigged judgment to those who take His
name in vain.
• …for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in
The Hebrew of this phrase translates, For the Lord will not clear the guilt of
one who takes His name in vain.
• Old Testament unpardonable sin…
• More on this in a few minutes

Now, if we only think about this commandment in terms of attaching God’s
name to a curse word it seems like a very extreme punishment for

And it would be if this were the right understanding.
A common interpretation agrees with John McArthur’s view on the third
• Not taking the Lord’s name in vain, is not limited to cursing or
something like that, but it means to treat God with irreverence, to
treat God with superficiality, with insincerity, with phoniness, to bring
to God empty worship, hypocritical honor.
This comes closer to the original meaning but the second part of the
commandment would then make every one of us unforgivable.
Right…who hasn’t shown even the slightest measure of disrespect for our
holy, sovereign and righteous God?
• Worshiped Him without all the sincerity He deserves because you
had a really bad week of the start of a head-cold
And the Lord will not clear you of the guilt for taking His name in vain?
There’s got to be more to it than McArthur suggests.
Because the punishment just doesn’t fit the crime.
It doesn’t agree with the biblical principle of an eye-for-an-eye.
We know in our limited capacity for justice…
Punishment that exceeds the crime is a great miscarriage of justice.
• Emmitt Till, 14-year-old African-American lynched in Mississippi
(1955) for allegedly looking at a white woman
• Someone beats their dog within an inch of its life for making a mess
on the living room rug
God has a better sense of justice than we do…and all of us recognize
when a penalty exceeds an offense.
So, what’s going on with the third commandment?
Why is the harshest judgment attached to this one and no other?
Because to break it…is the greatest sin against God.
To get our heads around the Old Testament unpardonable sin…

It’ll help if we turn to Jesus’ teaching of it in the New Testament.
This passage on unforgivable behavior helps put the third commandment
into perspective.
In Mark three, Jesus responds to the scribe’s accusation that He was
acting on behalf of Beelzebul (Satan) when He healed those possessed by
They said that what Jesus did in casting out demons was an act of evil.
They accused Jesus (God) of committing evil.
So, what’s Jesus’ response?
Mark 3:28-29, reads, Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons
of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;  29  but whoever blasphemes
against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.
The Lord uses their accusation to teach on the unpardonable sin.
• To break the third commandment
Which is to do evil in God’s name…to take His name in vain.
• They were claiming Jesus broke the third Commandment
• Taking God’s name in vain by doing evil in the name of God.
That’s what it means to take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
It means to do evil in God’s name.
And that is what God will not forgive.
To be clear on this point Jesus said, Truly I say to you, all sins shall be
forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter….
Here He says what?
• …all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men….
• Murder…theft…abuse…even taking another person’s name in vain
• When the offender biblically repents

Here’re some modern-day examples of breaking this commandment.
• When radical Muslim’s behead people in God’s name When a husband abuses his wife and children then justifies it using a
perverse twist of Scripture
• When Jim Jones convinced over 900 people to commit mass suicide
in the name of God
To be sure…the Lord is offended when we take Him lightly…and
misrepresent His character.
But these are forgivable.
So, then the question becomes, “Why is committing acts of evil in God’s
name the unpardonable sin?”
Because it brings God’s name into disrepute.
It discredits and makes vain or empty the name of God.
How offended are you when someone calls your integrity into question?
Now imagine if you possessed perfect…unblemished integrity.
Then consider that the eternal destiny of countless souls depended on
trusting in the integrity of what you claim to be true.
The punishment for doing evil in the name of the Lord your God is so
Because the integrity of His reputation is so vital…to every human being.
The next question to ask is, “If making empty the name of God so offends
Him…how do we fill His name?”
By this I mean…make much of the name of Jesus?
The answer starts with understanding that biblical names have to do with
person, character, nature, essence, who someone is.
Biblical names were more than labels to distinguish the difference between
one person and another.
They said something about the individual.
This is why Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter…and Saul’s was
changed to Paul.

So, when we think about how to make much of God’s name it’s more than
using the words God, Jesus and Holy Spirit favorably.
To fill His name in a world bent on emptying itself of it…
We must reflect the character of God through our lives.
And the names of God in Scripture tell us the pattern of His character to

The Names of God

Elohim, Creator God
• Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created the heavens and the
• As Creator, God defines reality.
• We reflect reality when we live in the reality of God’s divine presence.

Elohim Chayim, Living God
• Joshua 3:10a, Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living
God is among you….”
• The character of our Elohim Chayim is expressing through a personal
relationship with Him.

Abba, Father
• Romans 8:15, For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to
fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by
which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
• As sons and daughters of our heavenly Father we are to trust Him in
the security of His love.

Jehovah-jireh, God Provides

• Genesis 22:14, Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will
Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be
• With inexhaustible resources…we have faith that God will provide for
our every need now and forever.

Jehovah-shalom, The Lord is Peace
• Judges 6:22-24, When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the Lord,
he said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the
Lord face to face.”  23  The Lord said to him, “Peace to you, do not fear;
you shall not die.”  24  Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and
named it The Lord is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the
• As our Peace, He is our comfort in a world chaos and unpredictable
• John 16:33, These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you
may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I
have overcome the world.

El Kanna, Jealous God
• Exodus 34:14, For you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord,
whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
• God’s affection for you runs deep…deeper than you can imagine.
• We demonstrate His love for us when we passionately guard His
word and reputation against all attacks against Him.

El Elyon, God Most High (El Shaddai – God Almighty)
• Psalm 7:17, I will give thanks to the Lord according to His
righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
• Psalm 97:9, For You are the Lord Most High over all the earth; You
are exalted far above all gods.

• El Elyon is most often used in the context of worship and we fill His
name with honor, glory and praise when we worship in spirit and

El Roi, The God Who Sees (El Ro’I – He is Your Shepherd)
• Genesis 16:13, Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to
her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained
alive here after seeing Him?”
• I love the kindness and care that this name holds as it points to God’s
character. He is one who chases after us, who follows us with
• When we act graciously toward others, we become conduits of God’s
Jehovah Nissi, The Lord is My Banner
• Exodus 17:15, Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My
• This is the name of God that proclaims His protection and leadership
for His people.
• We proclaim His protection when we champion the least among us in
the name of Christ.

Jehovah Rapha, The Lord Who Heals You
• Exodus 15:26, And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice
of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to
His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the
diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord,
am your healer.”
• God knows we’re in need of help, He understands we’re in need of
healing, and He promises to redeem every broken place in our lives.
• Championing the least among us includes offering means for

Yahweh, The Lord
• Exodus 3:13-14, Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the
sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has
sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What
shall I say to them?”  14  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He
said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to
• Because the name Yahweh is forever tied to the exodus event…it
reconciles with the character of God as Savior and deliverer.
• We reflect this dynamic of His character when we help lead others
out of the bondage of sin.

This is a lot to take in so, I’ll be offering an in-depth study of God’s names
when we start gathering again.
I want t finish by answering the question, “Can a Christian commit the
unpardonable sin?”
Can a Christian commit an act of evil in the name of God?
Can he or she blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
Well…the simple answer is, “No.”
And here’s why…
Let’s go back to Jesus’ teaching in Mark.
How does Jesus teach that He cannot be acting on behalf of Satan by
casting out demons?
He can’t be operating under Satan’s power to commit acts against Satan.
Mark 3:23-26, reads, And He called them to Himself and began speaking to
them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan?  24  If a kingdom is divided
against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  25  If a house is divided against
itself, that house will not be able to stand.  26  If Satan has risen up against
himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!”
Therefore…Jesus is working in His Father’s power…in His name.

And just as Satan cannot cast out Satan…God cannot cast out God…
God cannot be divided against Himself.
The reason Christians cannot blaspheme against the Holy Spirit by doing
evil in the name of God…
• Because they are indwelt with the Holy Spirit
Let me repeat that…
Christians cannot commit acts of evil in the name of God because they
have the Holy Spirit in them.
And He won’t permit Himself to take the name of the Lord God in vain.
So, anyone who claims to be a Christian but does evil in God’s name is not
and never was a true Christian.

This pandemic is likely one of the hardest…if not the hardest thing the
church has gone through…in American history.
Brothers and sisters…you are experiencing a significant season in God’s
How we navigate through this as His people will have a profound impact on
those who are far from Him.
This is an opportunity to fill His name when so many are committed to
emptying it.
If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior…
The Holy Spirit prevents you from doing evil in the name of God.
He can also empower you to make much of the name of Jesus.
Fill His name.