The 2nd Commandment says: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
What does this mean?
We are to fear and love God so that we do not use His name superstitiously ( i.e., like magic, in witchcraft, foretelling the future, contacting spirits), or use it to curse, (to call on God to bring evil on someone, to say something bad or disrespectful about God—blasphemy) swear, (to call on God as witness to the truth of what we are saying—In court we do this, but we should not do it for unimportant matters—as exclamation or emphasis), lie or deceive, (to make people believe something that is not true) but call on Him in prayer, (talk to Him) praise, ( tell Him/confess how wonderful and great He is) and thanksgiving (thank Him for all the good things He has done for us). (Taken from Luther’s Small Catechism with bracketed notes by editor)
Every day I hear people of all ages use the Lord’s name as a swear word. I always think about how obviously this breaks the Second Commandment. There are other ways, though, that one can break this commandment. How about the times when we use God’s name uselessly and carelessly? How about the times when, to back up a lie, we say "I swear to God"? How about the times when we are more interested in our horoscope than we are in reading God’s Word? What about the temptation to cover up an unbelieving heart and only pretend to be a Christian? As Luther’s Small Catechism indicates, these are all very real ways we break the Second Commandment. In all these ways, we are failing to use God’s name properly.
In which ways (what circumstances) do you find it hard to keep God’s name holy? Do you use any careless expressions that break this commandment?
God’s name stands for everything God is and everything He does—God is set apart as holy and perfect. The way we treat God’s name indicates our attitude towards Him. To take it in vain means to use it thoughtlessly, disrespectfully, carelessly—as if God were nothing and His name were nothing.
God’s name is a gift. He wants us to use His name to call upon Him in prayer, to praise Him, to give Him thanks. He wants us to treat His name with respect and to live lives that bring glory to Him and His name. We can call on His name to ask for forgiveness when our tongues slip and we don’t honour Him with our words.
He promises to forgive us when we confess and repent. He gives us Jesus, whose name is above all names. By God’s grace, we will be able to call Jesus our Lord and enjoy the gifts God has for us when we are welcomed into heaven.