Keeping the Sabbath/LORD’s DAY!

(Originally published back in 2006, with additions from 2018).

By now, you probably have guessed my views on keeping the LORD’s day, otherwise known as Sunday. I believe that Sunday should be set aside for the worship of God. This is not a play day, or a day to sit and watch the television. We are still bound by the Moral Law and keeping that day holy.

Many have often asked why was it that those in Acts began to keep the LORD’s day on the First day of the week? Well, the simple answer is that Christ rose on the first day of the week, and the day reminds us of His resurrection and points us to the new creation to come. The resurrection is the most monumental event in history, and for that reason, the day we keep holy has changed from the seventh day, which was looking back to the original creation, to the first day, pointing to the new creation and the hope we have in Christ.

The day was not removed by Christ’s fulfillment of the the Law (see Matthew 5:17-20). He was not removing or abrogating the Law, but fulfilling it on our behalf. The Law is still a requirement under the New Covenant, but not for justification purposes. It is a standard so that we become more conformed to the image of Christ, since the Law itself shows us the character and nature of God.

Many ask how it is that we are to be holy, since Christ is holy and we are to be holy like Him. We become holy by striving to conform to the Law, not for merit purposes but for sanctification purposes.

The Law is God’s revealed will for our lives, and as new creations, we conform to the Law out of obedience to Christ and the freedom He has given us over and against sin. We must not confuse what Paul is writing in Romans 6:14, For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

This is not an opt-out clause when it comes to obeying the Ten Commandments. What Paul is saying is that we are no longer under the dominion, the control of sin, because our controlling principle is grace, not sin. We are no longer under the law for our justification. But the Law itself is still God’s standard for doing what is good, just, and right.

For those who would say that the Law itself has no place in the believer’s life, a position that has always been rejected by those who are orthodox in their understanding of the gospel, would readily admit that we are still under the Law when it comes to something like adultery, or stealing, but not the Sabbath. They base this on the false assumption that since the Fourth Commandment is not repeated explicitly in the New Testament, that it is done away with in the New Covenant.

But it is implied in the New Testament. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, and He expected His people to be keeping the Sabbath in the end times. “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20). Jesus made it clear than anyone who would teach one to break one of the least of the commandments, would be least in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:19). Therefore, we should keep the Sabbath/Lord’s Day even more so, since it is not the least of the commandments.

We know this because it was actually established in creation. God rested on the seventh day, setting an example for all of mankind that we are to rest one-day in seven. The moving of the day from the seventh day to the first day is actually a method for sharing the gospel itself. When the rest of creation asks the Christian: “why do you keep the first day holy, instead of the seventh day?” We respond with the gospel itself: “this is the day that Jesus rose from the grave.”

Yet, here we are, people arguing that we are no longer under the Law, teaching people to break the commandments, saying that the Fourth Commandment is not a requirement for our lives.  These people would be known as antinomians, or those who reject the moral law (the Ten Commandments).

Part the reason they do so is a misunderstanding of the verse found in Colossians 2:16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths.

On the surface, it would seem that they are right. But are they? And of course, the answer is no. Paul is not writing the brethren in Colosse telling them to no longer keep the Sabbath. After all, he kept it as well as the other disciples. So what is Paul writing about?

R.C. Sproul writes:

“In Colosse, the Sabbath was kept and festivals observed in order to placate supernatural powers or angels thought to direct the course of the stars, regulated the calendar, and determine human destiny. This, Paul says, is a form of bondage from which Christ came to liberate men and women.”

In other words, Paul isn’t writing to free them from the Law of God, but the laws of man. Men in this area were abusing Sabbaths and festivals in order to worship other gods. When it comes to worshipping the living and true God, the moral law still applies.

Yes, we still set aside one day in seven in order to worship the God of all creation. The Law has not been removed but fulfilled in Christ. He kept it perfectly because He knew that we cannot (and if you break one of the commandments, you have broken all of them– see James.) Jesus did not come to remove it from us as a standard of living. This would be contrary to His purposes of sanctification. We are being sanctified in Christ and to say that the Law is no longer necessary, is to say that our lives are not to reflect the life of our Savior. Yet that is what we are to do. We strive to keep the Law because He did. We strive to do as He did, as Paul tells us in Philippians 2. Christ was not an antinomian. On the contrary, He wrote the Law and gave it to us. The Father’s commands are His commands. And if we are to grow to be like Him, we are to strive to keep His commands. Therefore, Keep the Sabbath holy, for He is holy!