Understanding what role the law of Moses is to play in the life of the believer can be difficult at times, but the New Testament is clear that many of the statutes given to Moses are eternally valid and coterminous with the law of Christ (Rom. 13:8–10; Gal. 5:14; 6:1–2). This is particularly true of the moral law summed up in the Ten Commandments, most of which pass over into the new covenant virtually unchanged. Regarding the third commandment, Paul explains in 1 Timothy 6:1 that God is still concerned that His name be treated as holy, and He lays a particular responsibility on His church to make sure it is not taken in vain.
This is not to say that it is the job of the church to enact speech codes, nor are we to view every profanation of the Lord’s name in the world to be our fault. Some people are going to hate our holy Creator and blaspheme His sacred name no matter how we behave or how kind we are to others. Yet we who bear the name of Christ are to make sure that we do not provide any fuel to the world’s blasphemous fires. When we do not live as we ought, we may cause others to stumble and malign our holy triune Lord. John Calvin comments on today’s passage that our refusal to do what even nonbelievers recognize is right can make them think that “God, whom we worship, incited us to rebellion,” that “the gospel rendered obstinate and disobedient those who ought to be subject to others.”
Paul reminds us in today’s passage that the world is watching our behavior and that it often judges God according to how we act. It may not be fair or entirely justified, but the world makes these judgments nevertheless, and we should ever be cognizant of this fact. The apostle focuses on the behavior of servants in relation to their masters, but his principle covers every possible instance in which we relate to those in authority. Even when our political leaders go against principles of biblical ethics, we are to respect them as the duly instituted authority (Rom. 13:1–7). At work, we must respectfully address our supervisors even when we disagree with them.
The commandment not to take God’s name in vain is fulfilled as we act in such a way that the world can see the difference the gospel makes. Let us be conscious of our deeds so that others may see our good works and glorify our Father (Matt. 5:16).
The world is watching, so let us take care to live as God has told us to in order that we might please Him and not cause His name to be blasphemed among those who know us. Are we showing respect to our friends and neighbors? Are we showing honor to our employers and other leaders, even when we disagree with them? May we always submit to those whom we are called to submit in order that we might sanctify the name of the Lord.