Sorting it All Out

So, I must tell you this story before I get into today’s passage. I was on Twitter reading other people’s Tweets, primarily those of other Christians, for there are many Christians on Twitter sharing the Scriptures and their walks of faith with Jesus Christ. And, then I read this Tweet:

“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”

“This commandment is so clear that a person would have to try hard to misunderstand it. God knows man and he knew that man would forget.”

So, I responded to the Tweet by stating that the command is not repeated for us in the New Testament, and that there are passages which indicate we are not under that specific law, and that there are Scriptures which teach our Sabbath rest is now our salvation. We now worship in spirit and in truth.

The Tweeter then gave me a list of four different passages of Scripture, none of which restated that law. And, then he quoted Matthew 5:19, which is a difficult passage to understand, especially in its context, and especially as you compare it to other Scriptures and to the New Covenant.

So, we talked back and forth on this subject for a little while, and another Tweeter entered into the conversation, too. It was a friendly discussion, sharing Scriptures back and forth, but we didn’t come to an agreement.

So, then I decided to look at the passage of Scripture for today on Bible Gateway, as the Lord has been having me following their reading plan the past three years. And, lo and behold, the passage was Romans 14 about differences of opinion on disputable matters and on how we are not to judge one another with regard to disputable matters (differences of opinion).

So, this was one of those times when I think God has a good sense of humor, for here I had just had a back and forth (friendly) discussion on whether or not we, as believers in Jesus, are commanded to keep the Jewish Sabbath. Thus, I asked the Lord to show me if I was in error in what I said to those other Tweeters, and if I was, I would go back and admit my error.

Romans 14:5-12 NASB

“One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,

“’As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.’

“So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”

So, then I had to ask myself if that is what I did. Was I judging my brother in Christ? Did I regard my brother with contempt? Was this subject one that is just a matter of opinion? Or, was there more to it? What was my motivation in responding to his tweet?

I can tell you with a clear conscience that my motivation was not to judge my brother or to treat him with contempt nor was it to argue over something minor that is just a difference of opinion but that has no eternal significance with regard to our eternal salvation.

On the contrary, my motivation was the same as Paul’s when he addressed the Christians in Galatia, Rome, and Colossae regarding them being led astray by the Judaizers who were trying to convince them that they had to follow some of the Old Covenant ceremonial or purification laws, including circumcision and some of their holy days, including the Sabbath.

I was concerned that such a statement might lead a young believer in Jesus to believe that he had to obey the law that said he had to remember the Sabbath Day and to keep it holy. Yet, I have no issues with those who regard Saturday as a day of worship of God and rest, or with those who regard Sunday as a day of worship of God and rest.

But, I do have an issue with someone saying that Christians must obey the Sabbath law or must attend a church service on a Sunday morning, and especially if that law or rule indicates that someone is not saved if they don’t follow that law or rule. For, that is what the Judaizers were telling the Gentile Christians, and that is why Paul wrote what he did especially in the book of Galatians, but also in Colossians.

For, Jesus never taught the Sabbath law. And, if one uses Matthew 5:19 to try to prove that he did, well there Jesus was speaking of the law and the prophets, which would have included all the Old Covenant law, so one would have to conclude that we must obey all the Old Covenant law.

The apostles also did not teach the Sabbath law, and they taught all the rest of the 10 commandments. They taught God’s moral laws. And, they gave us multiple lists of the sins that were considered the breaking of those moral laws, too. And, the Sabbath was not mentioned as something we had to obey or as something that if we didn’t obey that it would cost us our salvation.

So Paul, in his warnings against the Judaizers who were trying to convince the Gentile Christians that they had to follow some Old Covenant laws as part of their salvation, was not doing wrong in what he said. And, he wasn’t arguing over something that was just a matter of opinion.

He was correcting error. And, he was teaching the Gentile Christians or Jewish Christians that they didn’t have to obey the Old Covenant laws, just God’s moral laws which they spelled out for us over again throughout the New Testament. They were not to add on to their salvation the thinking that if they followed those laws that it would ensure them eternal life with God.

So, what should our attitude be towards these differences in beliefs with regard to the Sabbath? Or Sunday? We should not try to force others to do what Jesus and his apostles did not instruct us to do, especially if we try to make them believe that their salvation depends on them following that law.

And, if we believe that young Christians might feel compelled to have to keep the Sabbath, especially in order to be saved, then Scripturally, we should speak out and warn against that, and share with them what is taught under the New Covenant.

But we shouldn’t stand in judgment against any brother or sister if they want to keep the Sabbath or if they want to keep Sunday as their holy day, as long as they don’t believe that is adding to their salvation, and even there, it isn’t the person we judge, but the wrong teaching/doctrine.

But let me share this Scripture from Colossians 2:16-17:

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

Basically, what this is saying here is do not feel pressured that you must follow the Old Covenant laws. They were a shadow of the things that were to come, and which did come. For, the law was put in place to lead us to Christ, and Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

So, does this mean we don’t have to obey our Lord’s commandments? No! We must obey God’s moral laws which are spelled out for us throughout the New Testament and of which we are warned numerous times of the consequences of walks of disobedience. But regarding the Sabbath, truly our salvation is our Sabbath rest (see: Hebrews 4).

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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