The Galatians who were being deceived into accepting the ‘Judaizers’ rather than the simplicity of the gospel, certainly had a problem. The problem was not that they were keeping the sabbaths and feasts of the old sanctuary services, (as Paul himself still observed them) , but rather that they were trusting in that observation as a means to being justified. Similar in fact to those who in Jeremiah’s time were saying “The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord are these”; trusting in historical links to Abraham and Moses rather than in God Himself.
Would anyone dare suggest that it was not wrong to steal? If I as a Christian teach that stealing is morally indefensible which of you would accuse me of legalism? If however I taught that by being honest, I would then be justified before God, then your accusations of ‘Judaising’ and legalism etc would be justifiable.
There have been claims that there are certain denominations and individuals are guilty of legalism and ‘Judaizing’ when promoting the Sabbath or in defending it. How do you know that they are trusting in their works for their justification? Maybe they are simply obeying what they sincerely believe to be the commandments of God and are obeying them because they love Him?
While there may be some in my denomination that think they are justified by their obedience, not only would the church officially disagree with them, but so would I.
After having been justified by the precious blood of Christ and been born again of His Spirit, thus being in the sight of God innocent, and looking ahead to the walk and life of discipleship, you read in the Bible that all liars end up in the lake of fire, (Rev 21:8) what do you do? Do you cease from lying? Of course. However, can you do so in your own strength? No. So you enlist the help of the Holy Spirit to overcome. Now is that legalism? Is that ‘Judaizing? What of the Sabbath, for I know that the Sabbath is the sticking point of the law for many. Charges of legalism are only seldom raised with the other nine, but when the Sabbath is mentioned, according to many that person is ‘Judaizing’.
But I keep the Sabbath on the same grounds that I seek to be honest and tell the truth. By the grace of God and in response to the desires of His heart. His law in my heart, His Holy Spirit empowering me to obey. But is my law-keeping a means by which I am justified? No way. But if I stubbornly and persistently refuse to do that which God’s law requires because I don’t believe** that or trust in God’s clear command, or am fearful of what the rest of Christianity might think, or afraid of being unpopular or in the minority,even after accepting Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf, I will end up in the lake of fire.
That is why it is so very very important to live according to what our conscience tells us the word of God teaches, and not on what man says it teaches.
Deception is avoided by having a love of the truth, and Jesus said that it is truth that sets us free. Free from sin, free from condemnation, free from bondage to addictions and habits.Free from traditions of man. And freedom from charges of heresy and ‘Judaizing’ and legalism.
Yet considering the great and solemn importance throughout the Jewish economy which surrounded the weekly Sabbath, and the importance that was given to that day by Jesus, can any one explain to me why there was so little agitation regarding the so-called change to the Sabbath.
Jews who all their lives have devoutly observed the Sabbath, become Christians and suddenly cease observing it without a whimper? And thousands of Jews converting to Christianity and the Pharisees and legalists of the old faith raising no outcry when they stop observing the Sabbath?
The obvious answer surely is that the newly converted Jews now Christians did not cease from observing the Sabbath at all, and the book of Acts bears that out. Not only so, but the Gentile converts also began observing the weekly Sabbath.
Face it folks. The Sabbath did not cease to be observed by the majority of Christendom until well into the 3rd, 4th centuries and on as history reveals, and only because they were forced to through persecution and the enforced advance of Sunday by the Roman church.
You can try as you might to search throughout the NT for reasons to substantiate your present non-observance of the Sabbath as commanded throughout scripture, but not one stands up to critical Biblical exegesis.
Romans 14 cannot be referring to the weekly Sabbath because nowhere is there in any part of scripture any indication that the commandment has been annulled. Paul therefore would not here be contradicting the rest of scripture. Especially when he said in Romans the the law is holy and good. Jesus didn’t annul it, He magnified it. And once He died and ratified the covenant, it was too late for any one else to annul it. And as the disciples demonstrated the day following Christ’s death, they rested according to the commandment.( Luke 23:56.)
I am sure there are many who have searched the scriptures and sincerely believe they have the right answer, though it may differ from mine. And that is what this forum is about is it not? To discuss and debate? Sorry if you think that I maybe accusing people here, I cannot read hearts, I do not know what motives you have for observing Sunday as opposed to the Sabbath, maybe you don’t observe any particular day, but go to church on Sunday because every-one else does. I don’t know, but God does.
The thing is, whichever day you observe , because the Sabbath was a commandment, as opposed to a choice, you had better have a very good reason for doing what you do, and not do it just because it’s popular or traditional.
The issue is not as clear cut as the church has been teaching for 1500 years, and that from what I observe in scripture, none of the apostles observed Sunday as a day of rest or worship, and history tells us that although the church very early began keeping Sunday as a mark of recognition of the resurrection, this was at first confined to Rome only; only through pressure and persecution did it spread elsewhere.
The long and the short of it is that there is no specific scripture that does away with the Sabbath without our reading into the scripture that particular nuance.
The laws of God have never changed. They stand forever, as they are transcripts of His character.
It is the manner in which obedience is effected that has changed. I, nor anyone else, can keep the law by following it to the letter. That is, by focusing upon the written law and attempting in my strength to obeying all the commandments. That is walking in the flesh. But if by the Spirit I do mortify the flesh and allow God to work in me His righteousness, and by His strength then I can find the power to obey all the commandments. It is by focusing upon Him; worshiping Him in Spirit and truth, that He then abides in me and I begin to take on the nature and character of God, my Father. Obedience to the commandments then becomes the natural thing for me to do, and it becomes my delight and greatest pleasure. Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled. This righteousness expresses itself through obedience.
It is this that was hidden from Israel. They could not see the purpose in the sacrificial system; they could not see the end of all that they were attempting to accomplish by following the letter. They could not see Christ.
So God made a new covenant. He has written the law on our hearts and minds.
It is a covenant that infuses us with God’s love. And as we express that love to Him and to our fellow man, we find that the commandments are kept, to the letter.
That includes the sabbath commandment, it includes the commandments regarding adultery, stealing, idolatry, and covetousness. None of the commandments will be broken if we are loving God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength, and our neighbours as ourselves.
As Jesus said, “if you love Me, keep My commandments”.
When I refer to God’s laws, I speak exclusively of the Ten Commandments. They are immutable, not because they are God, but because they are a reflection of His character. Written upon stone with His own finger is a figure of that immutability. Do we not even today claim that something is unchangeable if written on stone?
Being a reflection of His character, of His righteousness, in order for them to change, then God Himself must likewise change, yet we know God does not change for He is the same forever.
Ps 119:172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
Jesus said several times that the law would remain until heaven and earth pass. He also said that anyone not obeying that law, and teaching others to do likewise, would in the kingdom of heaven be called least. Looking as far into man’s future, the very verge of his horizon, Jesus assures us that until this point is reached the law will retain it’s authority so that none may suppose it was Jesus’ mission to abolish the precepts and principles of the law. So long as heaven and earth remain, so the principles of God’s holy law will also remain.
Why is it that Christians today are so averse to obedience? What is it about the commandments of the God they profess to love, that makes the commandments so odious? The apostle John didn’t have a problem with obedience. He said the commandments are not grievous. And Jesus said “if you love Me , keep My commandments”. The Ten Commandments are Jesus’ commandments. They are HIS.
1Jo 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
And in case you would be so foolish as to hope that the example of the apostles and disciples may help your position, think again. Paul speaking:Acts 28:17 ¶ And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
If Paul taught that the laws of God (the Ten Commandments) had been abrogated, or that the Sabbath in particular was no longer to be observed, how could he claim the above without the Jews coming down on him like the proverbial ton of bricks?
Oh, and for any who might claim that the commandments cannot be kept, I would agree, if you were relying on your own power. But cannot God keep you from falling? Cannot God so empower you that you cease from sin? Is not that why Jesus came? To save the people from their sins? Does not such a scenario increase the grace of God? If by grace we are saved, then by grace we are sanctified. The Bible says the just shall live by faith. Where is your faith? What is it about the power of sin that makes you believe it cannot be overcome? Is not the promise that we will be cleansed of all unrighteousness if we but repent and confess?
Am I claiming to be perfect? No. Sanctification is a lifelong process. But Jesus promised that those who would hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled. To be filled with God’s own righteousness is to be servants of righteousness as opposed to servants of sin. (Rom.6:17,18).
We can overcome, we can obey all the commandments by the grace and power of God. That is why Jesus died and rose. To deliver us from the power of darkness and sin and fill us with His own character. As mentioned previously, He does this by filling us with His love. And through love we keep the law. Love does not abrogate or annul the law, it fulfills it. Therefore if we are not obeying the law, we are not loving. If we are not loving, we are not keeping the law. They are synonymous. That is why Jesus said that the upon commandments of love hang all the law and the prophets.
“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just and good.” Rom.7:12
The observation of the Sabbath is entirely compatible with the grace and mercy of God. It in fact is a real time reflection of our rest in Him, and a celebration of not only the first creation, but also our recreation through redemption. It is a celebration of grace. It is a setting aside of 24 hours solely for Him. Without the distractions of work, without the encumbrances of the pressures of this world. Not a bondage or obligation that so many seem to believe, but a time of real blessing, a time God Himself has set aside for communion with us, a time God Himself has made holy, and sanctified. For those reading who have never tried it, don’t knock it.
It appears to me to be rather contradictory to claim the Sabbath is no longer applicable because we now “rest” in Christ. Yet those advocating that argument refuse to rest according to the commandment !! Besides which, there is no indication anywhere in scripture where our “rest” in Christ actually replaces the Sabbath, or somehow supersedes it.
None of the apostles either practiced or taught that, nor did the 1st century church.
As far as how we observe the Sabbath, ceasing from work is the mandatory start, as that is part of the commandment. Beyond that, ask God. That is what the Sabbath is for. To enhance your relationship with Him. What better time to ask?