Lord's Day 25

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The word “vanity” literally means emptiness or lack of worth. The Biblical opposite of this word is “glory,” which literally means “heavy” or “weighty.” For us, then, to take the name of the Lord God in vain would be to make the glorious name of God meaningless and empty. While it is impossible for us to diminish the actual glory of God’s holy name, it is possible that through our words and deeds we can diminish the perceived glory of God for others, thus rendering God meaningless or unattractive to those around us. 

The Heidelberg Catechism teaches “that we must not profane or abuse the name of God by cursing, by perjury, or by unnecessary oaths.” This is readily understood in the commandment. We are not to throw God’s name around casually in our oaths, nor are we to lie or swear in the name of God. To do so would suggest to those around us that God’s name has little meaning or power over us. 

However, the catechism goes on to say that we are not “to participate in such horrible sins by keeping quiet and thus giving silent consent.” This is an even greater requirement of the commandment. We carry the name of God wherever we go. When we are silent in the face of sin and suffering, if we fail to act when we see others in need, we are silently proclaiming that our God is silent and unconcerned about the needs and concerns of the people around us. 

I tell my children every day, “Remember whose you are.” I want them to remember that they are my children, and they are God’s children as well. I want them to act in a way that would honor me as their father, but more importantly, in a way that would honor God as their heavenly father. What they say and do reflects on me as a father. Likewise, what we say and do is a reflection of our attitude toward our heavenly father. 


Almighty God, your name is glorious, and worthy of our praise. Forgive us for the times when we have made light of your name, either by the things we have said or done, or by the things we have left unsaid and undone. Bless us with your Holy Spirit, that we may bring glory to your name, through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen. 

Question 53

Q. 53. Which is the third commandment?

A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Scripture Proofs

Ex. 20:7.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Question 54

Q. 54. What is required in the third commandment?

A. The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works.

Scripture Proofs

Matt. 6:9;

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Deut. 28:58;

“If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God,

Ps. 68:4;

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!

Rev. 15:3-4;

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!

Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!

Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?

For you alone are holy.

All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Mal. 1:11;

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.

Ps. 138:1-2;

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

Job 36:24.

“Remember to extol his work, of which men have sung.