Stop Breaking the Sabbath

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.

A hangover I have from my own religious upbringing frequently runs into something predominate in LDS culture.  It’s the idea of keeping the Sabbath holy.  Along with it comes the guilt, judgment and condemnation that comes with breaking any number of unwritten rules concerning things you can not do on Sunday.

What really irks me about this rule keeping is that it is complete nonsense.  Its justification always comes from the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy.  The reason I say it is nonsense is that, with the exception of Seventh Day Adventist, there is not a single Christian group in the world who is actually keeping the Sabbath.  The Sabbath is on Saturday. Christians hundreds of years ago began worshiping on Sunday as a means of remembering Easter. The practice of Sabbath keeping has been done away with long ago.

Some will say “Yes that’s true, but now we are just keeping Sunday holy”.  I say it’s still nonsense.  Christians aren’t obeying anything close to the regulations for the Sabbath (on Sunday or any other day).  As legalistic as a Christian might be, they are desecrating the Sabbath. Instead they are merely obeying are a bunch of cultural legislations which no one can list with any authority.

These include (but are not limited to) not working, not eating out, not shopping, not listening to anything other than hymns, not turning on the TV, not watching or participating in sports, not gardening, not reading the newspaper, not going to the movies, not traveling, and not having any fun of any kind. These may all may make a person feel righteous, but if you so much as turn on a light switch you are not keeping the Sabbath laws.  You’re just setting up a sham counterfeit (of something Paul calls itself just a shadow of reality).

The goal for many in establishing these new laws is to seek righteousness and obtain holiness.  The problem is that made up rules don’t make us more holy, they make us more guilty.

Romans 5:20

The law was added so that the trespass might increase.

Adding law adds to the trespass.

Jesus said something profound about the Sabbath.  It was made for us, not the other way around.  As Hebrews explains, we can now enter into God’s rest and have true Sabbath permeate everyday of our lives.  We don’t have to run around like little chickens worried about this or that regulation, we can just . . . rest. We can have a Sabbath lifestyle.

I have on a couple of occasions taken spiritual retreats.  These have been occasions to shut myself off from technology, people and noise.  I even did them for a season consistently on Sundays.  I attended church on Saturday night so that I wouldn’t have to go anywhere I couldn’t walk. I didn’t do this because I thought it would prove my righteousness to God (it wouldn’t).  I did it for me, so that I could have a break.

I highly recommend taking time to enter into God’s rest, just make sure your “Sabbath keeping” doesn’t get in the way.

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24 thoughts on “Stop Breaking the Sabbath

  1. I find great value in having a day that is set apart for worship, for time with family, for getting away from some of my regular responsibilities. If God saw reason to rest after six days of work, who are we to try to do otherwise?

    I think there’s a great danger in being legalistic about the Sabbath (or whatever you want to call Sunday); I’ve seen it in the LDS community as well as in the brand of evangelicalism (similar to Tim’s brand) that I grew up. Jesus warned specifically against Sabbath legalism and judgmentalism, and so did Paul.

    But I also see that those who go to the other extreme are losing something too. God Himself set the pattern of a day off, and the principles behind setting aside a special day remain regardless of whether there’s a “law” to follow. We need time with family, with God, with ourselves. Setting aside a day for worship provides (or can provide) that. We ignore that principle at our peril.

  2. Concerning the Sabbath commandment, the following was published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1856:

    III.

    Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work; thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy womanservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates: for in six ages the Lord thy God made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh age: wherefore the Lord thy God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it:1 thou shalt keep it holy unto him, that thou forget not the Law, nor be found keeping the company of the vile, nor be despised by the righteous.

    129 words,

    508 letters.

    1. The day of rest originated in the rest of God, when he ceased the work of creation, at the making of man, to have dominion over the earth.

    2. It was had in remembrance as an institution of God, before promulgated by his voice in Sinai; (Gen. ii, 2, 3. Ex. xvi, 23;) and there is no ground for believing that the sanctifying of the Sabbath, was not a law among the Patriarchs and the Antediluvians, because it is not mentioned in the scriptures; for from the time of Moses until that of Solomon, when it was unquestionably in force, it is nowhere mentioned.

    1 See Ten Commandments, p. 17. Gen. ii, 2, 3.

    3. Throughout Christendom, with some slight exceptions, the first day, and not the seventh, is kept as a Sabbath. For this they have no warrant in the scriptures, and pretend to none. (Buck’s Th. Dic. “Sabbath.”) The reason given for the change, is, that Christ raised from the dead the first day, and the attempt is to justify it by tradition, and the practice of the Church.

    4. But, evidently, the Church have no power to change or abrogate a commandment of God, who required us to keep the seventh day, not any other day in the seven.

    5. The early Christians did undoubtedly frequently meet on the first day for religious worship, precisely as the Saints do nowadays, in exclusively Christian communities; not because they regarded it as the Sabbath of God, but because on that day, being the regular day of heathen festivals, men would come together to hear them.

    6. Keeping the first day as a Sabbath, instead of the seventh, is one of the innovations forced upon Christianity by the Emperour Constantine, to make the change of national religion less difficult.

    7. The very language of this Commandment, seems to presage the propensity of man to change the Sabbath; remember the Sabbath day; and God, foreseeing what wicked men would do, has placed on his chosen a special injunction that they keep that day in all their generations for a perpetual covenant; (Ex. xxxi, 1317;) and awful penalties are denounced against those who abolish it.

    8. The Sabbath is appointed for men in every station in life. The crime of exacting labour of children and servants on the Sabbath day, is a great offence unto God. But it is the Sabbath of the beast as well as of men, and to work beasts for our pleasure or profit, is an offence unto God. (Book of the Law of the Lord p. 23-24.)

  3. There are more than one christian group that celebrate the Sabath on the original seventh day. The Christian Groups that have moved their “Sabath” to Sunday (the first day) have done so (not to celebrate the solar Diaties as in Rome) but in recognition of the day that Christ had risen from the grave. As his tomb was discovered empty on the day following the sabath… A Sunday.

    so for some Saturday is Holy, others Sunday, and others it may be yet another day entirely.

    -D

  4. Tim, I agree with some of what you say but the overall point misses what the Sabbath is for me. Two points are important: 1) It’s important to worship as a community; Zion is, most importantly, a unified people; 2) The Sabbath is a day to look forward to the time when we will live with Christ (a “pre-celebration”), so do what is possible to avoid distractions.

    The second point dictates what I do on Sunday, but more importantly it determines what I do during the week to prepare for Sunday. For example, I work hard (when not blogging, ha!) M-F so that I don’t have to worry about email, cleaning, repairs, etc. on Sunday. That frees me on Sunday to do what I truly enjoy, not what I have to do.

    The first point is my reason for doing this on Sunday and not some other day. I don’t really care what day the Sabbath is; Sunday works fine. But I enjoy having a day to worship with my brothers and sisters in the Gospel.

  5. Exodus 20:8-10
    8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
    10 But the SEVENTH day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:
    in it thou shalt not do any work, …

    Saturday: The SEVENTH day of the week (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.)

    Which day do you think Jesus Christ observed as the sabbath?

    1 John 2:3-4
    3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his
    commandments.
    4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his
    commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

  6. Of course, Jesus observed the sabbath on Saturdays. But he didn’t observe it in a way that was pleasing to the religious leaders at the time.

  7. On what day did Jesus listen to Black Sabbath? And did he prefer the Ozzy era or the Dio era? These are the questions that truly try men’s souls.

  8. Eric wrote: “Of course, Jesus observed the sabbath on Saturdays. But he didn’t observe it in a way that was pleasing to the religious leaders at the time”

    That is true, but Jesus didn’t change the sabbath commandment to another day. According to scripture, the sabbath commandment would continue forever:

    “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for
    ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on
    the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31:17.)

  9. I am absolutely certain that Jesus would listen to Led Zeppelin IV, but the wristband actually asks “What Black Sabbath Album Would Jesus Listen To?”

    For the record, my religion on Facebook is currently listed as “Led Zeppelin.”

  10. I like this post. I read a quote recently: “A sabbath is any moment in which you are driven by neither fear nor desire.” Your idea of having a sabbath lifestyle reminded me of that.

    Growing up, it was all about how we had to stay inside and wear our church clothes all day and leave the TV off. I HATED Sundays as a result — it did absolutely nothing to bring me closer to God. I’m not opposed to setting a day aside for God, in fact I’m totally for it, but keep the arbitrary restrictions to yourself, thanks.

  11. I find this topic very interesting. One reason I left the LDS church was because of the Sabbath being on the 7th and not changed to the first. When I left, I found myself in the Torah and after two years of getting my head on straight as a Christian (born again 25 years ago at the age of 18) I am a gospel/Christ centered evangelical Christian. While I’ve studied through the dispensational and covenant differences from OT and NT, there is no reason the Sabbath is done away with. It isn’t a salvation issue but neither is respecting your mom and dad and I bet as a saved Christian you desire to live holy and respect your parents; not under the law but as a witness that God is at work in your life and God is sanctifying the believer.

    John 3:21 (NKJV)
    21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

    I have found the 7th Day Baptists to be the only Christian group that sees the Sabbath as a blessing from God and not a dogmatic rule to keep to be right with God. It would be better for someone to not “try” to keep the Sabbath day holy if they don’t believe God is in them to keep it holy. In other words, we can’t sanctify ourselves but must let the Spirit lead us in truth. I allow God to lead me in Sabbath and trust in the finished work of Christ to do so just as I trust in Christ to keep me from looking at a woman in lust. With men it’s impossible to not lust or keep the Sabbath holy, but with God, it is possible. Since we love Him for saving us from His wrath, we will allow him to write the commandments of the Spirit in our heart. We love Him and don’t want to live in sin. With the flesh out of the way at Christ’s death, we still have the 7th day as a way to glorify God’s creation. It’s the only commandment He specifically says “remember” and it’s the only day He says to set-apart as He set it apart. Yes, we love and worship God all 7 days but need a full day of refreshing. Having one day of dedicated time at the end of the week to especially focus on God’s Word, prayer, hymns, etc. is a wonderful blessing from God where He doesn’t expect us to work worldly work. He wants us to experience His providence by not having to fend for ourselves. If the Sabbath day is everyday, is it ok to revoke the curse given to Adam and Eve to work by the sweat of their brows? That curse hasn’t been removed until the 1,000 year reign of Christ begins. We still have thorns, hard labor and pregnant women still have the added pain of child birth. The curse removed from us is the wrath of God. The One who hung on the tree took that curse for and from us. That curse removal has nothing to do with abolishing the weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath is the 7th day. If we still have 7 days a week in God’s creation, then we still have the Sabbath day.

    Like any commandment there is a legalistic way of trying to keep it outside of God’s Spirit leading us. There is also a spiritual way of keeping it as well which is the way God intended it to be and not the way the Pharisees and scribes twisted it. I don’t worry or condemn my brothers and sisters in Christ who believe the Sabbath has ended because sin was nailed to the cross. I trust God will lead all believers to a proper and living way to embrace the Sabbath. To the gentiles it is reinforced with promises for keeping it holy in Christ in Isaiah 56. The only way to keep it holy is in Christ. Sin is no longer a legal issue, it is a matter of the heart issue and in Christ there is no condemnation only growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

    The more we understand His Lordship over the Sabbath, the more we’ll want to commune with a more focused concentration for Him on His Sabbath. It is just like prayer. We can pray all day long while waiting in the hustle and bustle of life. We are to be like Cornelius and be found in prayer at all times. But does this means to have Christ at the center of our soul at all times; not be in our prayer closet 24×7. Try living a life where your only prayers are in the noisy and distracting world and the prayer life will end up on life support in desperate need of quite and isolated time spent on our knees or however the Spirit leads. There’s a time and place for both as there is a time and place for receiving blessings of the Sabbath. Too much work in the world will drive anyone away from God. We have the Sabbath as a weekly slice of what it’s going to be like when Christ physically reigns as King. Of course, He is our king even know, but only in spirit. Upon the physical resurrection, we’ll be completely physical with Him. At that point, we’ll see whether the Sabbath was a matter of the heart or a matter of the flesh and is rightfully set aside.

  12. I have found the 7th Day Baptists to be the only Christian group that sees the Sabbath as a blessing from God and not a dogmatic rule to keep to be right with God.

    I believe that Black Sabbath is a blessing from the gods.

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