Taking the LORD’s Name in Vain–What Does It Really Mean?

One of the Ten Commandments reads, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD in vain” (Exodus 20:16). We were taught that this meant to not curse out someone using the phrase “G—d— you.” That is a sound teaching for all of us to follow. However, upon further investigation, this commandment really does not mean this.

First of all, we now know that the King James translators substituted the title “the LORD” for the Hebrew name of God, YHWH, or Yahweh. So it should read, “Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh in vain.” “God” is a title and not His name.

But to “take” the name Yahweh—what does that mean? Looking up the word “take” in Strong’s Concordance, we see that it is translated from the Hebrew word nasaw, #5375, meaning “to lift up, to extol.” In too many references to mention, it is translated “to lift up,” as in, to lift up voices to heaven, to lift up hands, eyes, hearts, etc. In one place it is translated “extol.”

So, with this in mind, we can now read the commandment, “Thou shalt not lift up the name of Yahweh in vain.” Looking up the phrase “in vain” in Strong’s, we see that it means, “false, falsely.” The same Hebrew word is translated “falsely” in many passages.

The More Correct Meaning of This Commandment

Putting this knowledge into the commandment, we now can read it with true meaning: “Thou shalt not lift up and extol the name of Yahweh falsely.” His name is holy—“hallowed be thy name.” So, using His name in a false way, for false purposes, is breaking that commandment and is a sin against Him. His name is to be praised, for our very lives and salvation are coded into His name. Consequently, knowing how precious and powerful His name is, for us to invoke His name for selfish reasons would be breaking this commandment.

A blatant scriptural example of this comes to mind. Someone once said that no man’s life is absolutely worthless; it can always serve as a horrible example. Such is the case of Simon the sorcerer. Simon, who had bewitched the people into thinking that he was a “the great power of God” was witnessing the true ministry of Philip. Philip preached “the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Yahshua, the Messiah” (Acts 8:12). Simon’s followers believed Philip’s message, along with Simon himself, who was baptized, and followed Philip, “beholding the miracles and signs which were done.” The apostles in Jerusalem “heard that Samaria had received the word of God,” and they sent Peter and John, who prayed for the new believers, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. When Simon saw that the people received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, he offered the apostles money to buy this power. Of course, they rejected and rebuked him for his sin and folly. The point here is that he was lifting up Yah’s name in a false manner, for false pretenses and purposes, and it was sin.

I have to ask this question: Seeing that the phrase “taking the Lord’s name in vain” does not mean what we were taught growing up, how many other things about God have been erroneous? Kenneth Wayne Hancock

{You may read more about the Sacred Names in my online books found here: http://yahwehisthesavior.com/  or click on “My books online” on the Blogroll in the right hand column. Make a comment; share your thoughts with thousands worldwide. If this has been helpful to you, book mark it and share it with others}


Filed under Sacred Names, sin, Yahweh

17 responses to “Taking the LORD’s Name in Vain–What Does It Really Mean?

  1. Jack A. Gainey

    I agree with you about using His Name for false purposes – “falsely.” But I also think that misrepresenting His Name with false or corrupted substitutes would also apply as “falsely.” What are your thoughts about that? Thanks, JAG

    • “Misrepresenting His Name” implies a deceptive intent of the heart, and God does look on the intent of the heart. I have seen good brothers try to (is “cram” the right word?) to force the sacred names onto people who were not ready for that amount of light–like “casting their pearls before swine.” We are to fish for men, using the wisdom from above, “which is first pure, peaceable, and easy to be entreated. So I endeavor to not judge the brethren as to sacred name usage, for they may be “reserving” the revelation of His true name for a more appropriate time in winning that soul…When I am writing to the world, and I do that a lot on this blog, I will use “Jesus” sparingly and with His Hebrew name alongside. I am not afraid to do this, for I trust Him that He knows the intent of my heart. Hope this helps. Wayneman

  2. Bernie

    Do not take His name for your own vanity. Don’t use His name for profit or power, the power and glory belong to him, not you.

    Examples: Using the name of God in advertising. Invoking the name of God to win a war, an election or a football game.

    This is the only sin which God will not forgive.

  3. My reading is that it forbids, among other things, invoking the blessing of God for a project with the attitude of commanding God to do so, and that He will not bless the project unless the invocation is made. It is a kind of tribal marking of the project as the turf of the invoker. and thus like the practices of those who have conducted religious wars. More broadly, it can be regarded as covering all of what is sometimes called “Bible-thumping” or “carrying one’s religion on one’s sleeve”.

    • Jon, you are exactly right. Invoking God’s holy name–and holy (set apart for Him) is the operative word here–for selfish purposes is breaking this commandment.

  4. Since the titles Jesus Lord and God are incorrect and even false names then that means that when the name Jesus is used for prayer in place of Yahushua it is considered biblicaly to be taking YAH”S holy name in vain..since the name Jesus{Gee-Zeus or Jezus} is a false psedo pagan name that was given to replace the true hebraic name of the messiah.

  5. brother wayne, i only ask what is your religion and where is church? do have church here in the philppine?

    • Hello, Brother Paul. You asked about my religion. I am simply a follower of Jesus Christ (Yahshua the Messiah). I do not belong to any church denomination and I am independent and unaffiliated with any organization. So I do not have a church in the Phillipines or anywhere else. Thank you for your questions and God bless you.

  6. Nawtdunyet

    Growing up as a preacher’s kid, I had different perspective than many. I always felt comfortable questioning and debating scripture and I was often within earshot when a member of the congregation (or total stranger) had questions for my dad. This was one issue that raised conflicting interpretations. My dad said to break this commandment was to (for example) ‘swear to God’ to perform a task while having no intention of doing so. Many people thought it was about ‘bad language’, particularly ‘G–D— it!’. I believe it means to use God for one’s own purpose: like when a televangelist says God told him to raise millions of dollars for his church, and if he failed to do so, God would end his life. Another example might be to say that ‘God hates (whomever: Jews, homosexuals, neighbors that don’t return borrowed tools). We can never claim to know the mind of God. I find that much more offensive than any type of cussing.

  7. Kay

    ” His name is holy—“hallowed be thy name.”

    And yet you call Him ‘Yah’?

    For real?!!!!?

    What is He, your kid brother or something.

    Show a little respect please.

  8. Leasa wallace

    Im looking for a bible with yahweh name in it and how do I get it

  9. Dominic Antwi Adjei

    Praise be to Yahweh for using your platform to inform,educate and remind us of biblical truths in this endtimes.May Yahweh continuously bless you in Yahshua’s atoning blood.

    • Dominic, thank you for your encouraging comment. Yahweh’s children are uniting. We are a small flock, but then He said, Few there be to find this way of truth. Spread the word. Feel free to share this blog with any and all. Bless you. Wayneman

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