“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Mt. 6:9). This petition condemns much more than profane language. Whenever we introduce the Divine name in our speech uselessly and triflingly – when we employ it to turn a sentence, or give emphasis to a statement, or point to an anecdote – when we make the Divine Word the subject-matter of jokes, punning on solemn truths of Revelation, and quoting Scripture with ludicrous adaptations to provoke mirth. And even when we take this great name on our lips in worship without any endeavor to feel the homage it demands, we violate the spirit of this prayer.
Meditations on the Lord's Prayer.
I confess that...I have frequently taken carelessly upon my tongue a name never pronounced above without reverence and humility.
The Valley of Vision, ed. Arthur Bennett, 1975, p. 106, by permission Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA.
Anything relating to the true God – His being, His nature, His will, His works, His worship, His service, or His doctrine – pertains to God's name. This commandment extends to the state of men's thoughts and hearts – as well as to their speech. To take God's name in vain, is to use it in any frivolous, false, inconsiderate, irreverent, or otherwise wicked manner. The scope of this commandment is to secure the holy and reverent use of all that by which God makes Himself known to His people; and so to guard His sacred name against all that is calculated to make it contemptible. The manner of taking His name is to be grave, solemn, intelligent, thoughtful, sincere, and with godly fear.
William S. Plumer
The Ten Commandments.
The concept of "name" has to do with person, character, nature, essence, who someone is. Therefore, we are not to take God, in the fullness of who He is, and treat Him in a vain way, or an empty, irreverent, impious, insincere, phony, fraudulent manner. Not taking the Lord's name in vain, then, is not limited to cursing or something like that, but it means to treat God with irreverence, superficiality, insincerity, or phoniness, or to bring to God empty worship, hypocritical worship or hypocritical honor. Someone has said frankly that God's name is taken in vain more often in the church than outside of it, where people come and offer empty worship with their needless repetition, empty praise-words, singing without thought of God, praying with indifference, hearing the Word and never applying it – all of this is empty worship, phony, hypocritical. Such worship is damnable, condemned in the Word of God.
Confusing Man's Traditions with God's Commandments, Part 1 – Matthew 14:34-15:9. The article originally appeared (http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/2311) at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
God’s name expresses His person; it reflects who He is. The name is God Himself, as He has made Himself known. It reveals His divine nature and His eternal qualities. God is who His name is. Thus all the biblical names and titles for God reveal His true character. Most of them refer to one of His actions or attributes. He is Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. He is El-Shaddai, the Mighty God. He is the Holy One, the Everlasting Father. He is the Maker and the Redeemer. He is the Shepherd, the Rock, and the Hiding Place. Whatever the name, God is who His name is because He does what His name says.
Philip Graham Ryken
Lead Us Not Into Temptation from When You Pray by Philip Graham Ryken, © 2000, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, page 68.
But the [improper] use of God's name is hardly restricted just to language… Whenever we do not live up to the call of the Christian life, we take God's name in vain. We are mirrors that should reflect the perfection of God. If the mirror claims to be Christ's and reflects tendencies of hell, then we use the name of Christ in vain, and people see that.
Taking the Name of God in Vain, www.apuritansmind.com.
When we use our tongues in a way that dishonors God’s name we use His name in vain. This is when we curse and swear. It is when we say “O my God” or any such time when the Lord’s name is used in an irreverent way. Even when we are in prayer or praise to God and we continually repeat the name “Jesus” or “Father” irreverently through vain repetition, we use God's name in vain. It is a sacred name and should be held in high esteem no matter when we invoke it. For invoking the name of God is a weighty matter and should not be taken lightly.
Taking the Name of God in Vain, www.apuritansmind.com.
God’s name is qualified by the adjective “holy” in the Old Testament more often than all other qualities or attributes combined.
Copied from: Pleasures Evermore: The Life-Changing Power of Knowing God by Sam Storms, © 2000, p. 136. Used by permission of NavPress – www.navpress.org. All rights reserved.
To take up God’s name in vain means any frivolous, or insincere, or thoughtless, or unsubstantial use of His name. It might mean irreverent humor which mocks God in speech, or mocks others with His name. It might be blasphemy or cursing or a broken oath, but it means more than that. It could mean professing faith in Christ, and claiming to be a Christian, and receiving baptism, and yet walking in worldliness.
“The Scarlet Letter”, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS. As downloaded in Fall of 2010, URL: http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/sermons/exodus/Exodus%20Vol%203%20&%204/25bExo.htm. Used by Permission.
When we fail to observe the third commandment, when we fail to honor God as God, and use His name as a curse word, or in a flippant, careless manner, we fail to fulfill this first petition (of the Lord’s Prayer to “hallow” God’s name). Perhaps nothing is more commonplace in our culture than the expression that comes from people's lips on many occasions, when they say simply, “Oh, my God.” This careless reference to God indicates how far removed our culture is from fulfilling the petition of the Lord's Prayer. It should be a priority for the church and for every individual Christian to make sure that the way in which we speak of God is a way that communicates respect, awe, adoration, and reverence. How we use the name of God reveals more clearly than any creed we ever confess our deepest attitudes towards the God of the sacred name.
Our Father, Tabletalk magazine, June 2007, Used by Permission.
The Third Commandment might well be paraphrased, “You shall not use the name of the Lord without meaning something by it.” Every time you use God’s name, you’d better mean something by it. Because God takes your words seriously even if you don’t.
Keep Believing Ministries, http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/1992-06-14-God-in-My-Mouth;-The-Devil-in-My-Heart.