Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 36
Lord's Day 36
What is required
in the third commandment?
We are not to blaspheme or to abuse the
Name of God
by cursing, perjury, or unnecessary oaths,
nor to share in such horrible sins
by being silent bystanders.
In short, we must use the holy Name of God
only with fear and reverence,
so that we may rightly confess Him,
call upon Him,
and praise Him in all our words and
Is the blaspheming of God's Name
by swearing and cursing
such a grievous sin
that God is angry also with those
who do not prevent and forbid it
as much as they can?
Certainly, for no sin is greater
or provokes God's wrath more
than the blaspheming of His Name.
That is why He commanded it to be punished
Q. & A. 99 – 102 Hallow the Name of the Lord
- “The name of the Lord” is everything which God made known about himself, his entire revelation in nature and Scripture, our knowledge of him (Ps 8:2; Jn 17:6). We may not take this name “in vain,” i.e., use it in a frivolous manner. Literally, the commandment says that we may not raise it as false, useless, vain, mendacious. Thus, we may not use the Name for sinful or useless purposes, or thoughtlessly. The Lord adds a special announcement of punishment to this commandment. This proves that Answer 100 is not too strong. (See also Lev 24:10-16). He who profanes God's name, profanes God himself!
- Forbidden are:
a. The ungodly curse, i.e., calling upon God's name improperly in order to call evil upon others. Cursing is the opposite of blessing; thus, it amounts to praying for evil from God upon a person.
b. Profanity, i.e., the ungodly and thoughtless misuse of God's name for “amusement,” or as expletive.
c. Blasphemy, i.e., the hellish ignition of hate towards God.
d. Perjury, i.e., calling upon God's name to cover up a lie.
e. Unnecessary oaths, i.e., calling upon God's name for trivial matters.
A person who silently condones these horrible sins shares in the guilt of the offender. Further, all neglect of God's Word is forbidden. The unbeliever who knows nothing better than bread and games does this, but also he who strives for something better and neglects God's name in the pursuit of knowledge. The commandment, therefore, prohibits “neutrality” in education and in societal organizations.
f. To hallow the name of the Lord, i.e., to use his name only with respect and to his praise; hence, to confess his name. We must do this always and everywhere, even at the cost of our lives.
g. To call upon the name of the Lord, for that is why his name was given to us.
h. Diligently to probe God's revelation in Scripture, nature and history, and to praise and magnify his name which is written in them.