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The Third Commandment
by Wayne Blank
What Does "Vain" Mean?
The original Hebrew word of the Third Commandment, most-often translated into English as vain is (pronounced) shawv. It has two literal meanings; one means evil, the other means to lie, as a matter of vanity. Both literal meanings are manifested in how the Third Commandment is disregarded.
The first, vain meaning evil, is very commonly seen, or rather heard, when people use God's Name, or the Son of God's Name, as a form of vulgar expression, or profanity - which are forms of blasphemy. People who do this may think that only themselves, or the people who they are talking to, know that they're doing it, but God can hear them every time they blaspheme Him or His Son (see also Glass Houses).
When God's Name is blasphemed:
"My Name continually every day is blasphemed" (Isaiah 52:5 KJV)
When the name of Jesus Christ is blasphemed:
"they blaspheme that worthy Name by the which ye are called" (James 2:7 KJV)
And how should God's people speak?
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." (2 Timothy 2:51-16 KJV)
The other category, those who violate the Third Commandment by vanity, are very often highly-offended when they hear the Name of God or Jesus Christ used as a profanity as described above, and yet they are just as guilty of using God's, or the Son of God's, Name in vain. How can this be? Because they use the Name of God to seem righteous, in their own eyes or someone else's, or they use the Name of the Son of God to claim to be Christian, all without truly obeying God according to God's Own Word. Taking the Name of the Son of God, claiming to be Christian, is vain in God's sight if it's nothing more than a self-serving, self-indulgent "I'll do it my way" religious experience:
Ignoring the actual Word of God while claiming to be Christian is taking the Son of God's Name in vain:
"This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' You leave the Commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." (Mark 7:6-8 RSV)
Merely claiming the Name of God's Son for one's self does not make one a true Christian:
"Not every one who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven."
Fact Finder: How can we make sure that we are not living in the Name of Christ, as Christians, in vain?