“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” (Exodus 20:7).
Exalting the name of God has been a part of God’s relationship with man since the beginning of time; thus, He has always prohibited the taking of His name in “vain”—that is, using it in an empty, meaningless, unprofitable, profane, irreverent way.
It seems appropriate that he mentions it specifically here in the third commandment for His people under the Law of Moses. A person could render God’s name as vain by using it as profanity or carelessly and disrespectfully, by being a hypocrite in regard to keeping His word, by breaking a commitment or a vow to Him, or by using His name as a part of an oath. A fifth way was to swear in God’s name that something was true when it was a lie.
Jesus makes this commandment a part of His Law in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 by telling His followers “do not swear at all.”
In view of the loose, irreverent language so commonplace in our world, we as Christians need to be reminded that it is sinful to be caught up in such a practice. Our every word and action are to show our deepest respect for God and to bring honor and glory to His name.