21 March 2004
Psalm 29:2, Matthew 6:9, Revelation 15:34 & Malachi 1:14
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
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. (Ex. 20:7)
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.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.53. What is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Q.54. What does the third commandment require?
A. The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, qualities, regulations, word, and works.
1. What do we mean by the “name of the Lord thy God”?
We mean by “the name of the Lord thy God” any way in which God makes himself known.
2. How is it that God makes himself known?
He makes himself known: by his names, such as God, Lord, I am, Jehovah; by his titles such as Lord of Hosts, Holy One of Israel, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and others; by his attributes, which are his perfections and properties (see Question 4); by his ordinances, which are the reading, preaching and hearing of the Word, prayer, thanksgiving, praise, the administration of the sacraments; by his word, the scriptures of the Old and New Testament; by his works, which are the works of creation and providence.
3. What is our responsibility toward these general ways by which He makes himself known?
Our responsibility is to show a reverent attitude toward all of them in our words, our thoughts and our actions. We should meditate on His names and titles. We should make holy use of God’s ordinances seeking God in them. We should be obedient at all times to His Word and recognise His works of creation and providence, blessing Him and praising Him for His mercies and submitting to Him in all things.
4. Does this question pertain at all to legal oaths and vows to God?
Since the name of God is used in oaths and vows, there is a connection. We should consider prayerfully the section of the Westminster Confession of Faith entitled: “Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.”