Are Christians Obligated to Keep the Sabbath?
Part 1

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
October 27, 2001

Last Updated :
April 7, 2020

Observing The Sabbath, Every Day A Blessing, Acknowledging God On Daily Basis, Hypocrisy Of Church Attendance, Charade Of The Jews, Lip Service Or True Worship, Spiritless Feast Days, New Testament Christians Or Old Testament Law, Jesus Frees Us From The Law, Unbelieving Jews Sought To Establish Their Own Righteousness, Jews' Perceived Righteousness Did Not Save Them, People Control Through Mosaic Law, Christ Is Lord Of The Sabbath, Original Purpose Of The Sabbath, The Mosaic Law Was Our Schoolmaster, The Letter Of The Law Or Spirit-Led, Burned Up Self-Righteous Works, Worship In The Spirit, Works Don't Save Us, Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb

While I have already written extensively regarding the correct attitude which modern New Covenant Christians should have towards the Old Testament Levitical and Mosaic Laws, this topic still comes up rather often on the various social networks where I participate. In fact, one is given the clear impression that there is an ongoing online "war" between the legalists, and those people who adhere more to Grace-based beliefs. Recently, one of our conversations touched on the topic of the Seventh Day Adventists, and the fact that observance of the Sabbath day is a central part of their doctrine. In asking me about this subject, one person quoted the following verse that is found in the Book of Genesis:

"And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
Genesis 2:3, KJV

This woman then proceeded to ask me the following question:

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Wouldn't that Day, being blessed, hold some special significance, if we acknowledged it, and worshiped the Lord as our Creator on that Day, just as Sunday is set aside today?

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In answering this woman, the first point I would like to make here, is that I do not believe that it is necessary for us to acknowledge one particular day each week in order to honor the Lord. As far as I am concerned, every day is a special blessing, because every day is given to us to live by the Lord. As the Psalmist was inspired to write:

"This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24, KJV

Over a thousand years later, the Apostle Paul penned the following words to the brethren at Rome, when they too were apparently having problems, because some of them felt that it was necessary to observe certain feast days, while some of the others viewed every day as being the same, and of equal importance:

"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
Romans 14:5, KJV

Rather than acknowledge a particular day as part of a weekly ritual, because it is mandated by some branch of organized religion, I believe that it is much more important that we acknowledge the Lord in our lives every single day of the year. This shouldn't occur just on one day of the week when worldly people try to show their holiness and devotion to God. Furthermore, we shouldn't do things out of mere habit, or simply because it is the politically correct thing to do, but rather because we have thankful hearts.

In short, if we do have thankful hearts for all that the Lord has done for us, we will manifest our thankfulness to Him every day, and we will acknowledge Him every day. If we are not truly living our lives in obedience to God's Word and Will; and if we are not acknowledging Him in our lives every single day of the year; then in my view, setting aside about one hour of one day a week is nothing short of total hypocrisy, and I don't think that God really cares for it. But again, this is just my opinion. You may feel differently.

As I point out in the article "The Biblical Practice of Fasting", by the time that Jesus arrived during the First Century, the so-called worship of the religious elders of Israel had been reduced to nothing more than a pitiful and hypocritical charade before both God and man. It was all talk and no substance. It was spiritless and dead; just like so many modern church services today. It is for this reason that Jesus strongly rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees, and thoroughly exposed their sins and the hypocrisy of their ways, in such sharp discourses as the one that is found in Matthew chapter twenty-three. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus very pointedly told His self-righteous religious enemies that they honored God with their mouths, while their hearts were very far from Him, as we see here:

". . . Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."
Mark 7:6-9, KJV

As you can see, in rebuking the religious elders of Israel, Jesus was quoting from the Prophet Isaiah. This is because since the days of the Prophets, the Lord had been rebuking the Israelites because of their dry, spiritless religion of dead works. This, of course, included their observance of certain feast days, including the sabbaths. These solemn practices had become utterly worthless and vain. In fact, they were quite disgusting to the Lord, because they were not being done from the heart; and they were not coupled with true obedience; as we see by the following verses:

"And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest."
Lamentations 2:6, KJV

"Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it."
Malachi 2:3, KJV

"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow."
Isaiah 1:11-17, KJV

Isn't that quite amazing? The ancient Israelites were going through all of the right motions of pretending to be a holy sanctified people with all of their special feast days and Sabbath observations. They were making long prayers to God. They were offering their morning and evening sacrifices. They were getting together and having their solemn meetings. Yet the Lord was utterly sick of it. He didn't want to have anything to do with it. In fact, He even went so far as to say that He didn't even want to hear their prayers because they stunk in His nostrils. Their prayers were no longer a sweet-smelling incense to Him. They had become a foul odor which nauseated Him. How much those verses remind me of so many modern church-goers who also go through the motions of pretending to be Christian, while they live their daily lives in hypocrisy and deep sin, and collectively do things to other nations of the world, which a Christian people simply should not do!

It should be clear then, that if our hearts are not right with the Lord, going to church on Sunday, or Saturday, or Wednesday is not only a meaningless act, it is in fact a hypocritical act; legalism at its worst; and God utterly hates it. But returning to our main point concerning the necessity of observing holy days such as the Sabbath, the simple truth of the matter is that we Christians are not under the Old Testament Covenant. We are under the New Testament Covenant, which was signed and sealed by Jesus' own Blood. I explain this concept in more detail in other articles such as "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?", as well as in "The Blood Atonement: In Jesus' Own Words". I encourage you to read them if you desire a more in-depth understanding of the significance of the Sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The point is, being as we Christians are covered by the New Testament Covenant -- or agreement if you prefer -- we are no longer bound by the bondage of the Old Testament Law -- that is, the 613 mitzvoth -- as the pre-Christian era Israelites were. As I explain in quite a few other articles, such as in "The Royal Law: Thou Shalt Love", Jesus came to free us from dependence upon the Law for our Salvation. That is why in explaining these things to the Law-observing Jews of His time, He said such things as the following:

". . . If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
John 8:31-32, 36, KJV

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
Luke 4:18-19, KJV

While Jesus kept some aspects of the Law in order to "fulfil all righteousness" -- Matthew 3:15 -- at the same time, He was not in bondage to the same, as you will see momentarily. Furthermore, He taught His followers that they could be free from the bondage of the Law as well. For example; after an incident where the Lord's Disciples were caught picking corn on the Sabbath day, consider what happened next:

"And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."
Mark 2:24-28, KJV

On another occasion, when Jesus was about to perform another miracle of healing, once again His religious Law-observing enemies -- the unbelieving Jews -- found an opportunity to attack Him. Notice again how the Lord responded and put them to shame due to their self-righteous legalism, and lack of love and mercy:

"And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him."
Luke 13:14-17, KJV

Over and over again those self-righteous, legalistic, and supposedly Law-observing Scribes and Pharisees accused the Lord of breaking the Mosaic and Levitical Laws; and each time, Jesus would wisely respond to their holier-than-thou accusations with words such as we find in the previous two examples. Jesus offered them an opportunity to be freed from the weight and burden of the Law, but many of those stubborn Jews simply refused to accept His invitation. They preferred the old ways, the old customs, the old traditions, and the old doctrines; because through their stiff rejection of Jesus Christ, they could continue to boast of their own supposed righteousness. In fact, as the Apostle Paul informs us, they sought to establish their own righteousness without Christ. Consider the following verses:

"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and GOING ABOUT TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
Romans 10:1-4, KJV

Do you see that? Paul clearly writes "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Do you understand what Paul means by that? As you will see even more clearly as we continue this discussion, he was basically saying, "Look guys; you can stop trying so hard to fulfill all of the mandates of the Mosaic Law, because Jesus took the burden of the Law, and the burden of sin, from us, when He offered up His own life on the Cross. From now on, our righteousness can only be achieved through faith in Him." That is precisely why Paul also writes the following in his Epistle to the Philippian brethren:

"And be found in him [Jesus], NOT HAVING MINE OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:"
Philippians 3:9, KJV

But notice what else Paul writes in those previous verses in his Epistle to the brethren at Rome. He says "my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." Do you understand what Paul is saying? Quite simply, he is acknowledging that his Jewish brethren are not saved, because they are still trusting in their own righteousness, and not in the righteousness which comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Wow!

As I mention in a number of other articles, another reason why the Scribes and the Pharisees were so beholden to the Laws of Moses, is because they used those strict mandates to keep the common people under their control. How much this sounds like some churches today, which likewise make certain unnecessary demands upon their blind flocks; such as forced observance of the Sabbath, or honoring Mary and the Saints, or going to confession, or being water baptized, or some other legalistic ritual or requirement.

Please notice precisely what the Lord says in the previous verses from the Gospel of Mark. First of all, He tells the Jews that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. What does He mean by that? In my view, He is saying that He and His Father created the Sabbath, so He is entitled to do whatever He wants to do on it, whether they like it, or agree with it, or not. If He and His followers want to glean corn on the Sabbath, so be it. If He wants to heal sick folks on the Sabbath, He is perfectly within His right to do so.

Second, the Lord is also very clearly saying that the Sabbath was not made for men to be under strict bondage to it. That is why He states "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath". The idea behind the Sabbath, was simply to instruct men to rest when their bodies required it. In fact, in the original Hebrew, the word "shabbath" means to cease, desist or rest. So that, in my opinion, is the spirit, and true intent, of the Law concerning the Sabbath. You need to remember that the Israelites were under Egyptian bondage for a period of several hundred years. They didn't have a day off from work. They didn't know what it meant to rest; so the Lord had to teach them to do so by making it a law. God was basically saying to them, "You need to take it easy. It is important that you give your bodies a chance to rest and recover from your labors each week." It's just that simple.

As I point out in some of the aforementioned articles, the Apostle Paul tells us plainly that the Law was only meant to serve as a schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ; at which time our dependence would be upon Him, and not upon strict adherence to the Mosaic Law, for our Salvation, as we see here:

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."
Galatians 3:24-25, KJV

Please notice Paul's final words in the previous two verses: "we are no longer under a schoolmaster." Sadly, as we have already seen, some people today, including certain Christian denominations, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, are just like those self-righteous Jews of old. While they may not see it as such, they have taken a step into the legalistic past by mandating that all of their members observe the Sabbath. Such people have fallen under the bondage of the letter of the Law, instead of being Spirit-led, and freed through the Sacrifice of Christ. In describing the Law-bound Jews of his own time, and explaining how New Testament Christians must be led by the Spirit instead, the Apostle Paul had this to say:

"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and NOT IN THE LETTER; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Romans 2:28-29, KJV

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
Romans 8:14, KJV

You see; as Paul states in the previous verses, we can choose to live according to the letter of the Law just like those legalistic Jews did. We can try to do everything right on the physical level -- such as be circumcised, observe the Sabbath, keep kosher laws, observe all of the other Jewish holy days, feasts and customs -- in order to try to convince ourselves -- and other people -- of how good and holy we are, so that we might win their praise. However, the reality of the situation is that it is all really nothing but dead, legalistic, self-glorifying works; and in the end, they will amount to nothing, and they will in fact be burned. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul wrote in the following verses:

"Now if any man build upon this foundation [meaning Christ] gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
1 Corinthians 3:12-15, KJV

What God desires of us most, is true worship in the Spirit, in humility, so that He can receive the praise, glory and honor, and not us. As Jesus said to the woman at the well so long ago:

"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
John 4:24, KJV

To be quite honest, while I have had a number of interactions with them, I am not all that familiar with the doctrines of the Seventh Day Adventists. As such, I am not certain if they view the observance of the Sabbath as an essential part of God's Salvation Plan or not. I certainly hope that this is not the case, because if there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain, it is that our so-called "good works" -- including observance of the Sabbath -- cannot possibly ever save us, or contribute to our Salvation in any way. As I explain in articles such as "Are You Crucified With Christ?", Jesus Christ paid the full price for our Salvation, and our works, no matter how good or righteous they may seem to be, cannot add to what He has already accomplished.

Let me remind you that when the Lord said on the Cross "It is finished", that is exactly what He meant. By shedding His own blood, Jesus had fulfilled the rigid demands of the Law for the remission of our sins. His blood was the purchase price for our Salvation, and our sins were in fact symbolically washed clean. This eternal truth becomes so evident in verses such as the following:

"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.‭"
Hebrews 9:22, KJV

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
1 John 1:7, KJV

"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
1 John 2:2, KJV

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
1 John 4:10, KJV

"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,"
Revelation 1:5, KJV

"And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
Revelation 7:14, KJV

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Isaiah 1:18, KJV

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
Matthew 26:26-28, KJV

"And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many."
Mark 14:22-24, KJV

"And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
Luke 22:14-20, KJV

"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;"
Romans 3:25, KJV

"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
Ephesians 2:13, KJV

"For where a testament ‭is‭, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.‭ ‭‭For a testament ‭is‭ of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.‭"
Hebrews 9:16-17, KJV

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;"
Hebrews 10:19-20, KJV

"Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate . . . Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Hebrews 13:12, 20-21, KJV

"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."
1 Peter 1:2, KJV

Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .

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