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The Third Commandment

The Text

The Institutes

The Catechism

The Text

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.

Exodus 20:7

Rules for Understanding the Commandments

The Westminster Larger Catechism (1648)

Question 112: What is required in the third commandment?
: The third commandment requires,

  • That the name of God,
  • His titles,
  • attributes,
  • ordinances,
  • the Word,
  • sacraments,
  • prayer,
  • oaths,
  • vows,
  • lots,
  • His works,
  • and whatsoever else there is whereby He makes Himself known,

be used

  • holily
  • and reverently
  • in thought,
  • meditation,
  • word,
  • and writing;
  • by an holy profession,
  • and answerable conversation,
  • to the glory of God,
  • and the good of
    • ourselves,
    • and others.

Question 113: What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment?
: The sins forbidden in the third commandment are,

  • by blasphemy,
  • perjury;
  • all sinful cursings,
  • oaths,
  • vows,
  • and lots;
  • His titles,
  • attributes,
  • ordinances,
  • or works,
  • misapplying
  • misinterpreting,
  • misapplying,
  • or any way perverting the Word,
  • to profane jests,
  • curious
  • or unprofitable questions,
  • vain janglings,
  • or the maintaining of false doctrines;
  • the maligning,
  • scorning,
  • reviling,
  • or anywise opposing
  • God's truth,
  • grace, and
  • ways;

Question 114: What reasons are annexed to the third commandment?
: The reasons annexed to the third commandment, in these words,

The Lord thy God, and, For the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain,


The Westminster Larger Catechism (1648) explains our duties under the First Commandment. You will notice that the brilliant Puritan Theologians who compiled the Catechism discerned duties in passages of Scripture which do not begin with the words "Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not."
Every word of God is a command for us.
But even the "thou shalts" and the "thou shalt nots" demand more from us than we might first think:
How to Study the Ten Commandments

How to use the Catechism for a Moral Inventory

First, you must agree that the Catechism has correctly explained the implications of the Commandment. Assuming it has, you must agree with God that you are obligated to carry out those principles in your life.

Second you must ask yourself if you have violated each aspect of the command.

Third, you must take steps to develop the Character of Christ, and eliminate "character defects" from your life.

Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law

(links coming in y2k!)
  1. The Negativism of the Law
  2. Swearing and Revolution
  3. The Oath and Society
  4. Swearing and Worship
  5. The Oath and Authority
  6. The Name of God

The Ten Commandments Home Page

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |

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