The Second Commandment

The Second Commandment

You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.


Martin Luther introduces the Second Commandment this way, “As the First Commandment inwardly instructs the heart and teaches faith, so this commandment leads outward, and directs the speech of lips and tongue into a right relationship to God. The first things that break forth out of the heart and come into the open are words.”

Some may remember that the King James translated this commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.” To take God’s name in vain would be to use his name emptily, to make his name have little or no value. Using God’s name in vain cuts to the heart of this commandment. We fail to obey the Second Commandment whenever we empty God’s name of its value.

What does this say to the parent or teen or child even that let “Oh my God” slip from their lips every time they are surprised or frustrated? Are they really uttering a prayer at that moment?

How does this jive with the guy who lets fly the “God damn it” whenever he encounters a problem? Is he really asking God to send the object to eternity in hell? Even if he is hoping that, is he justified in his damnation?

What does this teach the person who resorts to “I swear to God” every time he wants to emphasize the truth of a statement or story? Does he really realize that he is asking God to hold him accountable for the next words that come out of his mouth? Couldn’t he in these cases take Jesus’ advice and let his yes be yes and his no be no?

God’s name is emptied of meaning, or misused not only by the preacher who knowingly teaches false doctrine or by the individual lying under oath in court, but also by us who think and say God’s name without affording it the respect it deserves.

As with the First Commandment, a breaking of any of the other commandments breaks this commandment. Christ’s name is tarnished every time one of his Christians acts in an unloving way to his neighbor. Assuming that you are known as a Christians, theft, murder, adultery, gossip and every other sin tarnishes God’s name when people look at you and gather that Christians really aren’t different from other people.

As with the other commandments, this one is impossible to keep. So again we come to Jesus… to blood to forgiveness.

The Israelites took this commandment so seriously that they would not even say the proper name of the LORD. They wanted to make sure that God’s name remained holy and untarnished. Whenever they came to his name in writing or speaking they said a more generic name for lord instead so they would not even come close to breaking this commandment.

This commandment, however, does not say that we should never say the Lord our God’s name. One can and should draw from this that there is a proper time and manner to use God’s name. In his explanation to this commandment Luther wrote, “We should fear and love God that we… call upon God’s name in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.”

God has asked us to call on his name because he loves us and loves to hear from us. He loved us enough to send Jesus to repair our broken relationship with him so that we now can call him our Father. He gave us the perfect reason to call out in his name, praising him and giving him thanks. He gave us Jesus. He gave us life. He gave us heaven.


The Second Commandment

You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we do not use his name to curse, swear, lie, or deceive, or use it superstitiously, but call upon God’s name in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.


About vicarhoff

I am thrilled and honored to be serving as vicar/intern at Christ the King Lutheran Church and School for a whole year!

Posted on September 8, 2011, in Church, Preschool and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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