Third Commandment

Of the Ten Commandments given to us in both (Exodus 20:2-17) and (Deut5;6-21), only one has a punishment promised for the violator! It seems to me that it must be the most important commandment, and not to be taken lightly. It is sad how many modern-day translations don’t see it the way that I see it! Some say “do not take the name of the LORD in vain”, while others say “Don’t misuse the name of the LORD”. There is a huge gap between the two meanings, as they have nothing in common, except the LORD’s name!

Accepted Meaning

The common interpretation of this Commandment is that it refers to something we say. That interpretation is why people believe that if they say “Gosh darn”, “Dog Gone”, “Jeepers” or other mispronounced, yet totally intentional attempt to avoid damnation by … mispronunciation? Somehow, we believe that these little “tricks” prevent the promised punishment for the violator! Somehow the intention is not as important as what is actually said.

From Paramount Pictures

Here’s the complete Third Commandment, because many people don’t know the second part even exists!

Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses his name.

Christian Standard Bible. (My emphasis)

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.

New American Standard Bible. (My emphasis)

Remember, no other commandment has such a promise. Oh yes, the Second Commandment promises to punish your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but you are the one who gets away free! But, this article is not about that one. I am sure that there are many more such “mispronunciations” in many languages in a vain attempt to escape!

What if?

What if the original English translations got it right? Let’s say that there are three parts to this commandment:
1. “taking the name” and,
2. “in vain” and,
3. “not being unpunished”, (that’s a double negative) or a GUARANTEE that you will be punished!

Guarantee? By God? I do believe you absolutely cannot escape paying the punishment for this one. Sounds like even the cross doesn’t cover it!

Side note: According to the Bible, you cannot confirm a truth unless it is corroborated by 2 witnesses. Also, there is an “unforgivable sin”, and it is mentioned in both the Old Testament and the New. That’s another article, but do realize that there is a sin that cannot be forgiven!

In Vain

Let’s tackle the meaning of “in vain” first. One way that you can find the definition of a word or phrase, is in how it is used. Check any dictionary, and you will (almost always) find a “usage” of the word to help explain what it means. For example:

an emotional or other connection between people: the relationship between teachers and students.

from as part of the definition for “relationship”.

So, let’s do the same, starting with “in vain”. If we want to see what “in vain” means, let’s use it in a sentence. “They searched the swamp all right for the little girl in vain.” or “In vain did the wide receiver stretch his arms out to catch the pass.”

In these sentences, it sounds like both the search for the little girl, and the wide receiver … failed to accomplish what they wanted. It was the same result or consequence as if they had never even tried! So it is about a “failed action”. So you do something, and it doesn’t work. In other words, you failed to do it, whatever it was.

Taking the Name

Back to the first part, “take the name”. When do we commonly see this almost every day? Well, at least on most weekends?

Photo by Ana Paula Lima on

Yes, at a wedding. The bride (often) takes the groom’s last name, as my wife did. She does it voluntarily. So, what really changed? Just her name? Of course not. We think of both of their lives making changes. If they love partying, they now do it together. They have committed to each other, and have forsaken other relationships. Every relationship changes after that wedding!

Combining the Phrase

So, if her/their behavior before the marriage is the same as her behavior after the marriage, we can say she “took his name in vain”. It’s as if she never tried to take his name. Not for real. No commitment.

So, what is “taken the name of the Lord in vain”? The name of the LORD is Jesus Christ. I took His name when I told people that “I am a Christian”. However, if my life did not change, or I don’t have a new relationship with God, I have done it in vain. I am a “fake Christian” in that case. In other words, telling the world that I am a Christian when Christ and I do NOT have a personal relationship GUARANTEES that I will be punished if that does not change.

In the Old Testament, as well as when Christ walked the earth, people who were not born Jewish and wanted to become Jewish were baptized. (John was telling Jews that their lineage was not enough to be righteous before God!) Again, if their behavior, if their life didn’t change, it would be fair to say that they had failed at becoming a Jew. They had done it in vain. They had only gotten wet.

Whether it’s a marriage or ceremoniously becoming a Christian or a Jew, if it is not a life-changing experience … it’s fake! It’s not real!


Whether it’s a marriage or ceremoniously becoming a Christian or a Jew, if it is not a life-changing experience … it’s fake! It’s not real!

Jesus Says:

Remember that verse:

‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.’

English Standard Version.

So, being “lukewarm”, which sounds a lot like not really being a Christian but claiming to be one, is not good a place to be.

Unforgivable Sin?

As we know, the Bible was mostly written by Jewish people and initially for Jewish people. Later, it became very important for Christians. By Jewish law, a fact could be “proven” in court only by at least two witnesses. One eyewitness was never enough. So, where else in scripture (other than the lukewarm above) is there evidence for the unforgivable sin?

Yes, I do believe that the Third Commandment represents the Unforgiveable Sin. It is not about cursing, it’s about faking being a Christian. Faking a relationship with Christ is as bad as never having one.

(While Jesus died for everyone, meaning they all have their ticket to heaven paid for, only those that actually accept the ticket get there.)

“But there can never be forgiveness for the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, for they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

Mark 3:29, New King James Version

Wow! This one is nasty! We need to have a good idea about “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit”?

  1. the dictionary defines blasphemy as “revile, abuse”. In modern words it is to “dis” the Holy Spirit.
  2. Other Bible versions use other words, such as:
    1. “speaks abusively against or maliciously misrepresents” (AMPC)
    2. “insults” (CEB)
    3. “speak against” (CEV), (ERV), EXB), (NCV)
    4. “speak injuriously against” (DARBY)
    5. “says evil things against” (GNT), (NIRV), (VOICE), (YLT)
    6. “persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit” (MSG)
    7. “curses” (NOG)
    8. “speaks bad things against” (NLV)
    9. “slanders” (TLV)
    10. “say wrong things against” (WE)

It seems that saying the wrong thing about the Holy Spirit gets us into trouble, permanently! What does that mean? It’s hard to imagine that a few words we say have that hard a consequence. Is there a hint somewhere else in scripture? I think so, as Jesus said:

“He who is of God hears God’s what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

John 8:47, New King James Version

As I see it (and of course, I may be wrong!), denying that God speaks to us today through the Holy Spirit, is the huge no-no. Telling others that God acts as if He is dead, is not only incorrect, it’s wrong! We need to admit that He is still here, He is still active and He still loves you!


If you are not a Christian, I know why you are not, and I understand. It’s just about impossible to believe in a person you have never met, nor read anything about their place in history. Simply put, you have not met Jesus person-to-person. You have no hard, solid evidence that He exists. In a similar way, you know that there is an author for this blog, and you know some things about me. However, you and I don’t have a personal relationship so there is room for doubt about a lot of things. It makes sense to me!

If you ARE a Christian, you have met Jesus and can no longer deny His existence. Oh, you can get frustrated by or angry at Him, but you can’t deny him! It’s okay, He can handle it. He also is calling you back to get to know each other better. Let Him get to know you because you reveal yourself to Him. (Don’t let Him say, “I never knew you.”)

There really is no middle ground, no place to be “lukewarm”. Not for long anyway, you really need to decide which way you lean. If you have never met Him, you can ask Him to reveal Himself to you tomorrow, and then look for Him in your day. He GUARANTEES He will show up.

Articles With Alternative Views:

Please comment and/or respond to what you heard inside of you as you read this! Let’s share!
To see and use Personalized Scriptures, visit and enjoy!

What's your thought?Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.