The Sabbath: Objection #1

Sabbath Study, Part 4

The first of the three most popular Scriptural passages used to support the idea that the fourth commandment has ceased is found in Romans 14.

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:5)
This passage deals with a common problem in New Testament times. As Gentile Christians joined the church, disputes arose as to the necessity—or lack thereof—of observing longstanding Jewish customs (festival days, dietary regulations, circumcision, etc.) What we find out from Paul (and other Scriptural passages) is that ceremonial Jewish laws do not apply to Christians—Jewish or Gentile. We are free from those requirements. However, our freedom in Christ also allows us to adhere to them (or some of them), should we so choose. Our conscience is to be our guide in such cases. A person convicted of, say, eating pork can very well abstain from eating pork.

That being said, it should be obvious that moral laws are not a matter of conscience. One cannot, for example, dishonor his father or mother if he feels no obligation to do so. God’s moral law is binding on all mankind. To break such a law is to offend God. And as we will see, the Ten Commandments are a part of God’s moral, natural law. As such, the fourth commandment is raised above the ceremonial law (and the other festivals and holidays—many of which were referred to as sabbaths).


NOTE: Because of Thanksgiving, the next blog entry will not be posted until Saturday.


Steven said…
Cap, I would like to point out something here that might help you to understand the difference between the sacrificial/ceremonial laws that Christ fulfilled and the law given at Mt. Sinai. Read Exodus 31-34 and you will see that God not only gave the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai but also the annual festivals. God did not give the sacrificial laws at this time Jer 7:22 Gal 3:19 states that the law (of sacrifice) was added because of transgressions (sin)till Christ came. The Ten Commandments, Holy Days, statutes and precepts were not given because of transgressions but were given to Israel as the way God wants his people to live by. Read the book of Duet. as Israel was about to go into the promised land God gave them a pretty good pep talk concerning these laws. These are the laws God wants to write on our hearts and teach to our children!!

The days spoken of in Romans 14 are not any of the Sabbaths. They are not mentioned here at all. What is being brought out was certain days that were set apart for fasting by the Jews and some people were debating over eating only veggies or eating meat. Clean or unclean meats were not the subject here either. The word Paul uses in Rom 14 speaking of unclean meats means common or defiled speaking of meats offered to idols which would be ceremonially unclean, not the unclean meat spoken of in Leviticus. The scriptures here in Romans were pertaining to arguments over whether some days one chose to fast made one more righteous than another and some were debating over whether to eat meat or just veggies and whether the meat some may have eaten had been offered to idols making it common. Check out ICor 8-10 Paul is talking about the same problem here as in Romans.(I could give a more detailed explanation of the meat offered to Idols thing if you like)but I'll stop here cause as usual I'm getting lengthy. Steven
Cap Stewart said…

You’ve obviously studied the doctrine of the Sabbath longer than I have, so I won’t pretend otherwise. However, I want to provide at least a brief response to your comments on the last several blog entries. At the same time, please understand that, as we continue, I won’t be able to devote the time to answer each statement you make with equal depth.

I’m going to have to disagree with your dissection of the law. While I concur that both the Ten Commandments and the festivals—along with a host of other commands—precede the giving of the official sacrificial system, I disagree that Paul is only referring to the sacrificial law in Galatians 3:19. Paul’s point is that the ENTIRE law was given because of transgressions—that is, to show us how great our sin against God is. As Paul says in Romans 7:7, he would not have been aware of his sin if he didn’t have the law to show it to him. (And then he quotes one of the Ten Commandments as an example of that law.)

I would also still make a distinction between the weekly Sabbath and the other festival days. Only the weekly Sabbath was included in the Ten Commandments. I am unaware of the death penalty being used for a violation of any other festival day.
Steven said…
I agree that in Romans 7:7 the law Paul is speaking of is the Ten commandments. That is pretty obvious. But in Gal 3:19 he could not possibly be speaking of the ten commandments or any other law other than the sacrificial law. If it is as you state could it possibly read "What purpose then does the Ten commandments serve? It was added because of transgressions"...That would not make sense would it? The commandments were what was being transgressed. 1John 3:4 tells us what sin is, it is the transgression of the law The ten commandments define sin do they not? Even if you placed the Feast days in there could it read "What purpose then does The Feast of Pentecost serve, it was added because of transgression"? That doesn't make sense either. The only law I see that would fit in there would be "What purpose then does the law of sacrifices serve, it was added because of transgressions". That makes perfect sense does it not?Atonement had to be made for sin. I believe the law that no longer serves a purpose is any law that had to do with sacrifices for sin. The things the High Priest and Levitical Priesthood performed, animal sacrifices and all sin offerings anything pertaining to what Christ accomplished. He is our High Priest. His blood not the blood of animals not all those sacrificial rituals is what is shed for our redemption. Praise God! He entered the Holy place once and for all AMEN!
The blessings and cursings that God speaks of in Duet 28-30 are the penalty that would be incurred if the statutes and judgments were disobeyed. In Lev 23the penalty for not observing the Day of Atonement appears to be that you were cut off from God's people or destroyed. I think the main penalty they would have incurred was separation from the true God. They would eventually forget their God and go after the gods of the land they were entering. That's what happens to physical Israel several times I believe. And each time they return to God they start keeping his Commandments, statutes, judgements and Sabbaths which include all the Feast days.
I might touch a nerve here but maybe spiritual Israel, Gods church might have been deceived into worshiping the gods of pagan nations also because they seem to have forgotten these Sabbaths and statutes and judgements.
Sorry for being long winded as usual. Steven
Cap Stewart said…
"What purpose then does the Ten commandments serve? It was added because of transgressions"...That would not make sense would it?

Actually, it does make sense—but in order to explain why I think that, I’ll need to briefly lay down a few foundational points. When talking about the law as a whole, Paul shows us that this law cannot make us justified before God. Just as with Abraham (Gal. 3:7), we are counted righteous through faith, not by obeying the law (v. 11).

God’s plan for redeeming mankind to Himself has always been through the gospel; there never was a Plan B. God didn’t give the law and later realize that an alternate route to redemption was needed. In fact, the gospel was presented to Abraham before the giving of the law (v. 8). The coming of the law did not annul the gospel (v. 17), for our inheritance can only come through God’s unmerited promise of grace, not through our obedience to the law (v. 18). Obeying the Ten Commandments and the ceremonial laws, observing the fasts and feasts and festivals—nothing contributes to our right standing with God.

Okay, that’s the foundation. Now here’s a more detailed version of my answer to your question: because we are justified by grace through faith, apart from any works of the law, we can be tempted to think (as Paul points out in Galatians 3:19), "What purpose does the law serve? If I am not justified before God by keeping the Sabbath and honoring my parents and avoiding adultery (and so on and so forth), what is the purpose of the law?" And the answer is that the law was given so that we might know we are sinners—in other words, “because of transgressions.” The purpose of the law is not to justify us; its purpose is to show us that we are sinners—that we are condemned. Apart from the law, we are constrained by our natural pride to think that we have the freedom to obey God if we want to. The law is our schoolmaster, to rid us of such silly notions (Galatians 3:24).

I’ll close with a quote from Martin Luther’s book, The Bondage of the Will [trans. J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston (Cambridge: James Clarke/Westwood, N.J.: Revell, 1957), 153]:

[T]he commandments are not given inappropriately or pointlessly; but in order that through them proud, blind man may learn the plague of his own impotence, should he try to do what is commanded.

When you look at the law this way, saying the Ten Commandments—and all other parts of the law—were added because of our transgressions makes perfect sense. We wouldn’t be able to see our sin without them.
Steven said…
I will begin with a quote from one of my comments to Objection #3 "Paul was clearly warning them against this in Gal 5. that justification comes only through faith in Christ and not by works of any law. Praise God!!". I bring this up to reaffirm that I also, like you, believe that our justification comes through faith in Christ sacrifice. I never said there was a "plan B", so I'm not sure why that was mentioned in your last comment. Rev 13:8 says that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. If Christ/The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world and was slain for our redemption and forgiveness of our sins then sin had to exist with man from the foundation of the world. There has always been the need for blood to be shed for the remission of sin Heb 9:22. That is why when Adam and Eve sinned and then realized they were naked God covered them with "tunics of skin" this I believe shows the first animal sacrifice/shedding of blood for sin. Gen 4:7 mentions sin in the case of Cain. Also Gen 4:3 states in the process of time Cain and Abel brought offerings to God. Why did Cain with his bad attitude even consider to bring an offering? Maybe he was required to do so? It is apparent the distinction between clean and unclean meats already existed Gen 7:2 in the case of God's instructions to Noah. Laws against homosexuality are apparent in the case of the city of Sodom.
If then God’s Laws statutes, precepts and judgments existed prior to Sinai, when would the Law that is spoken of in Gal 3:19 have been “added” and what would it have been “added “ to?? The Commandments do indeed define sin and justification does not come by keeping them. Keeping the Commandments is not what justified the Israelites, what justified them, was the sacrificial system which is spoken of clearly in Heb. 7-9 this was their tutor or schoolmaster that bought them to Christ. Read Heb 9 this describes the tutor perfectly. Prior to Christ their faith was in this tutor they relied on it to justify them. Paul is saying here that their faith in Christ’s sacrifice is now what brings justification and redeems us from the curse of the law which is death. If this tutor or schoolmaster is God’s Commandments as you state and since faith in Christ has come we are no longer in need of this tutor wouldn’t you be saying that we no longer need God’s Commandments? Surely that cannot be so. We can still sin therefore sin is still defined as the “transgression of the Law/God’s Commandments. The Law/Commandments/Statutes etc. have not changed, it is that we now have faith in Christ and His sacrifice to justify us.
We all should strive daily to keep God’s Commandments, to obey our Father, and when we sin we have a High Priest who offered his blood once and for all. I would urge everyone to read Heb 7-10 and you will find a good understanding of what Paul meant when he spoke of the tutor or schoolmaster in Gal 3.
The issue in Galatians was mainly concerning circumcision, the Jews were telling the Galatians they had to become as they were to be justified. Gal 2 shows Paul in a dispute with Peter over the issue of law keeping to be justified. Gal 5 also speaks of the main issue being circumcision.
I will end this comment with several scriptures. I Corinthians 7:19 “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, BUT KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD IS WHAT MATTERS”. 1 John 3:22 “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep HIS COMMANDMENTS AND DO THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE PLEASING IN HIS SIGHT”. Psalm 119:150-152 “They draw near who follow after wickedness; They are far from Your law. You are near, O Lord, And all of Your commandments are truth. Concerning your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them FOREVER“. May God continue to bless your study. Steven
Kyle said…
I'm not so sure about this one. I don't know that it necessarily follows that keeping the sabbath is a moral requirement on the same level as abstaining from murder and false witness, simply because it's in the same list. The fact that it is in the same list certainly lends the concept some serious weight - we're talking about the 10 commandments after all - but only the 5th through the 10th are obvious moral imperatives, the sort of thing that any pagan could figure out. 1-4 are more theological and therefore less intuitive.

On top of that 1-3 are pretty self-evident, given the basic concept of monotheism and an invisible God. Number four is more... squishy. Different listings of the 10 commandments give different reasonings for it. It has something to do with the seven days of creation and with being redeemed from slavery, which really does feel more like a ritual remembrance holiday. There's definitely something there that is significant and even central to Christianity, but I'm not so comfortable with a sharp line that says "moral imperative."