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The 4th Commandment: Are We Still Required To Keep The Sabbath?

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If we’re honest, breaking the Fourth Commandment is one we might be not feel as bad about as breaking the other nine. Certainly, if you kill, commit adultery, or make a carved image, you should and usually do feel guilty. But, at least by today’s standards, breaking the Fourth Commandment — keeping the Sabbath — doesn’t usually require a trip to your local psychologist.

Yet breaking this commandment does produce stress in your life, because the whole commandment relates to our work. Work is stressful; we absolutely lean on work to provide for our needs. For some of us, we find our identity and pride in work alone. Thus, work remains one of the highest stressors in the average person’s life.

The Fourth Commandment provides a “why” and a “what” to those who fear God. The “why” is practical because we all need physical rest. The why is also practical because we need to refocus on the God of the Bible — the one true God. We need to reset and refocus because we, indeed, have short-term memories to the things of God. In the midst of family, work and life, we forget what God has called us to do (glorify Him), what our mission is (become more like Christ and share the Gospel with others), and what the point of it all is (to bring praise to God’s name).

The First Commandment (“have no other gods before Me”) sets up the rest of the commandments. The Fourth Commandment is given to us to help us make sure that our work (which we do for dozens of hours a week) doesn’t overtake Almighty God as our primary means of sustenance, security and identity. In other words, God wants us to make sure that it is His nature and character, not our work, that remains our rifle-like focus, source of trust for the future, and source of our identity now.

Friend, your work isn’t your identity. Being changed by the power of the Gospel means the “here’s your identity” comes before the “here’s what you do.” Obedience is rooted in a biblical understanding of your identity in Christ. As a believer, you will struggle and suffer many failures, yet your identity and the direction of your life will reveal Christ’s mastery over you (read 1 John)!

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And, remember, too, that the more you work, the easier it is to trust your ability to provide over God’s ability to supply all things. If God is our patron, He will provide. If He does not, we should not exist. He has never failed. You can trust this omnipotent God to provide everything you need (Psalm 68:19; Phil. 4:19), and you can trust Him enough to rest.

But Are We Still Obligated to Keep the Sabbath Today?

The 4th Commandment: Are We Still Required To Keep The Sabbath? The New Testament teaches that Christ freed us from the demands of the Law because He has completely fulfilled it (Matt. 5:16; Rom 10:4, etc.). All of the laws of Israel were given to point us to a greater reality that has come in the God-man, Jesus Christ. Ceremonies, special days, and dress codes of the Old Testament all pointed forward to His coming.  When Jesus literally and bodily resurrected three days after His death (1 Cor. 15), He fulfilled the Sabbath law. Thus, Christians changed their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. In short, the point is that Christ is Himself the Sabbath (Heb. 4) and, if we are resting and rejoicing in His resurrection, we have fulfilled this commandment

You may say, “Okay, that’s great. But you still haven’t answered the question. Am I still required to keep the Sabbath?”

Friend, you should still keep the standard of the Sabbath. While we are freed from the technical law-keeping of the Sabbath itself, we are still sinners just like the Israelites were. This means that we should take the Lord’s Day (Sunday) to do a few things.

First, we should, literally, rest. No, this doesn’t mean you sleep all day. Be active in your local church on the Lord’s Day. Take a nap. Go to bed early. Avoid the trap of playing “catch-up” on your school work, laundry and house work.

Second, we should remember the mighty work of God in the Gospel. Why? Because, ultimately, the Gospel is our identity in what Jesus Christ has done for us. In Jesus, we’re totally loved and totally established by the only God whose opinion really matters. The self-improve and self-justification project many call their Christian life is quicksand.

What’s more, the Gospel is our security. I know that if God saved me, He’ll take care of me. If God gave up His Son to rescue you from slavery, do you really think He won’t help you to pay the light bill? Finally, the Gospel reminds us of our God-given purpose. When you look through the Gospel lens, everything starts to look different — your job, the people around you, your family.

Finally, take time to recalibrate your focus on God Himself. As humans, though created in God’s image, we are like a car out of alignment or a battery that must be recharged. You need — you must! — take one day to truly refocus your heart. God gave us His church to do that! It’s not about you. There’s only one glory and audience to live for — and that is God!

What do you trust in for your identity, security and provision? If you truly trust God, it will be shown if you obey Him (1 John 5:2-3). If you really trust Him, you obey Him knowing that He is responsible to meet your needs. Resting on His day is proof of this, too.

And what do you delight in? What do you rest in? What one thing are you most excited about? What does your heart most naturally gravitate toward?

If it isn’t resting in the all-providing God, you may be breaking this commandment.

Will you trust Him alone today?

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15 comments

  1. Thank you, I sit here on the sofa sick, so I am not going to church today, Yet I’m online looking at stuff about chickens, and so now my focus is back to what really matters on the Sabbath, rest and a focus on God. While the family goes to church mom will read that Wilberforce book she keeps saying she’ll get to.

  2. Jesus said if you love me you will keep my commandments. He also said if you are guilty of one then you are guilty of all of them. If you break the fourth there is little point in keeping the other nine. What he did for us was to offer a way to salvation after we failed to keep the commandments. That however requires repentance. Repent and turn away from your sins. Love Jesus and do your best to keep all of His commandments.

    • So true – if Jesus “fulfilled the law” and we are no longer required to observe the Sabbath then the rest of the law is so fulfilled. Here comes adultery, murder, lying, coveting, dishonoring parents, etc. Something there just doesn’t sound right, huh?

      • Jesus fulfilling the law doesn’t mean the laws are null and void, that they go away or no longer count. If anything for the Christian the law is now part of us and not some external rule we’re gonna have to pay for if we break it. We now thirst to do what is right and righteous. We jump at the chance to do right and run from something that’s wrong. Not because of the law but because of the Christ. The Father is now never ever angry with us, not even miffed. He’s never disappointed but always with a big loving smile ready to put his hand on our shoulder and lovingly say “See how that worked out? Not so good, huh? Let me show the right way!” and open up to some place in his Word and point out the proper path.

        The law still exists. It is the one and only standard. Jesus fulfilling it does give us cart blanche to do whatever we want. Though the wages of sin are death, Jesus cashed that check on the cross. He paid the price, death. But the effects of sin did not go to the cross with Him. Breaking the law still has all the terrible consequences it always has. Thirst for righteousness. Run from evil in all it’s forms.

        • OOOOPS! What a mis-type…..”Jesus fulling the law -doesn’t- give us cart blanche to do whatever we want.”

          Need an EDIT button.

  3. Let me quickly share some info about God’s Holy Sabbath. The term was always clouded for me as a young Christian yet I sensed there was something more to understand. Someone helped me with an explanation and God’s Holy Spirit has over the years giving additional understanding. I grew up in a Christian home but remember looking at the wall calendar and asking my mother as we washed and dried dishes together why Sunday was called “the weekend” when it was actually the first day of the week. She didn’t have a believable answer. If you likewise sense something has clouded your understanding about God’s special Holy day then please consider the following I have to offer. This is an ongoing learning experience for me and it can be for you too. God’s Holy Sabbath is nearly as exciting as His Salvation and forgiveness of sin.
    Here is some important information. Time is nearly spent. There is a reason you are reading this.

    Don’t get tangled up about “The Jewish Sabbath….The Christian Sabbath…it is God’s Holy Sabbath.
    Christ said the Sabbath was made for man and he is Lord of the Sabbath(Mark 2:27-28), therefore he is Lord of the seventh day which God blessed and sanctified in Genesis 2:3. He never “unblessed” the seventh day. It has greater significance than the other six. “The Lord’s Day”, popularly and traditionally thought of as Sunday is incorrect. Again, Christ is Lord of the Sabbath. God’s Fourth Commandment says NOTHING about going to church on a particular day! And no, you do not “honor God” or Christ’s resurrection by trying to make another day holy which he has not chosen. I used to think the word Sunday was a translation of the word Sabbath. Wrong.
    God’s Ten Commandments were given to His chosen people, the Children of Israel to spread throughout the world. They, the people, did not succeed. Thus the need for a Savior. The Commandments are a safeguard, not a hindrance. They protect man and show the true character of God. When Christ kept them perfectly (!) they were not then “done away with”. God’s grace is not a cloak to conceal us while we dabble in sin and break His Commandments. Don’t presume falsely upon grace. The Fourth Commandment allows mankind to “rest” in the all sufficiency of Christ Jesus.
    I had to one day throw all my religious tradition out the window and then carefully re-examine each piece.
    The “world” and “the Church” WILL NOT support your observance of God’s Holy Sabbath! But you MUST do it anyway. Special sale prices at the Mall on Saturday (God’s seventh day) are meaningless. There is always an attractive distraction designed to hinder a relationship with God. He commands his people to cease from labor and their own self interests which could be done on another day. I could go on and on. In Luke 17:27-29, Christ explains what was happening to some people just before their time ended. I do not claim to be a know it all about God’s Fourth Commandment and recently made major revisions again in my beliefs just when I thought I understood. Have barely touched on the topic but hope this info will encourage someone else to STOP and re-evaluate what they think they know. Best regards.

    • Yes, keeping the real sabbath IS exciting! It requires an adjustment in thinking and lifestyle, but finding like-minded believers makes it a lot easier. Start with the nearest Messianic congregation. It has been SO rewarding!

  4. Isn’t the Sabbath Saturday?

    • Yes, Saturday is the Sabbath. The same day that Jesus (an example in everything) went to the Temple and worshiped. In Daniel 7:25 he speaks about someone “thinks to change times and laws”. A number of years back, Cardinal Gibbons of NYC (he even stated that Saturday was the Sabbath) wrote that they had the authority to “change” times and laws in that they transferred the sanctity of the Sabbath to the first day of the week. He went on to say that most protestants “pay homage to the Catholic Church by worshiping on the first day of the week.
      Call it “that old Jewish Sabbath” if you wish, but remember, God created the Sabbath “and made it Holy” long before there ever was a Jew.

      • yep, those pesky catholics. pesky might not be a strong enough word… damned may be more accurate. have you ever read a geneva bible? it predates the kjv by 51 yrs or so. the kjv is pretty watered down. the geneva points straight to the pope as being the antichrist!!! no doubt, absolute, irrefutable proof. even some catholics think that the current pope will be the antichrist. something about the previous ten popes and then one would rule for a short time. then you get this freak on a leash. the 10 horns on the beast, then the little horn that rises up….. the description of mystery babylon is perfect though for the correlation to the vatican.
        sincerely christian anarchist

  5. don’t forget Matthew 12:11 when Jesus himself said: “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?”

  6. God created the earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th day. enough said right? christian considered the sabbath to be the last day of the week until those pesky catholics decided to bring the pagans to religion and changed the day of worship to sunday because the pagans worshiped the sun god on sunday. a break down of some of the week days for you
    sunday- worship of the sun
    monday- moon
    tuesday and wednesday i forgot
    thursday- greek god thor’s day
    friday i forgot
    saturday- saturn
    also you months are wrong too
    september is 7th month not 9th
    october- octo, eight
    november novo, nine
    december- deca, ten
    january is 11th
    february is 12th.
    actual first month is march
    making sense yet?
    the holidays 🙂
    halloween- hallows eve
    christmas has nothing to do with Christs birth. it is a celebration of the winter solstice
    wtf is a yule log? look that one up! it was a time of sexual immorality.
    all the others are messed up to.
    9/11 took place on said day because that is considered to be a more accurate time of birth of Jesus. it was done as an act of defiance!
    your history books suck
    sincerely christian anarchist
    btw look up “Jesus was an anarchist” read the article at famguardian.com it’s the best i’ve found so far

  7. Actually, the Sabbath is about man. So said Jesus. So saying “It’s not about you” seems to go against scripture.

  8. There are so many errors in Christian churches over the nature and requirements of the 4th commandment. Sadly, this is typical of the Devil – he likes to take what God has laid out plainly, and make it confusing.

    My friends, keeping the Sabbath commandment is every bit as important as keeping the other 9. In the article above I read a very commonly used misunderstanding to justify not keeping the 4th commandment – “Christ freed us from the demands of the law because He has completely fulfilled the law.” All who make this statement as proof that we don’t have to keep the 10 commandments miss that there are 2 distinct sets of laws in the Bible. There is God’s law – the moral law contained in 10 laws written by the hand of God on 2 tablets of stone. Then there is Moses’ law, which was the set of ordinances that Moses wrote. Duet. 31:25,26.

    The bible defines sin as “the transgression of God’s law”, 1 John 3:4. It also says that the “wages of sin is death” Rom 6:23. Putting those two verses together we see that “the wages of transgressing God’s law is death.” We all are deserving of a death sentence because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23. Jesus paid that debt for everyone who believes on him. So he fulfilled the requirement of death for sin.

    What he didn’t do was change God’s law. In fact, he specifically said he didn’t. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law… one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law…” Matt 5:17,18. So what does Col 2:14 mean when it says he nailed the law to the cross. To understand, read the whole verse. “Blotting out the handwriting of the ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” The verse clearly refers to the handwriting of ordinances. That’s Moses’ law. See Duet 31:25,26 again which specifically says Moses’ law was against us. If you need more evidence, see Eph 2:15 which again calls them the “law of commandments in ordinances”. Jesus fulfilled the law of Moses by his death on the cross – the ordinances pointed towards him and were to be a reminder to all sinners of the terrible price that had to be paid for their sins. Once Christ did for our sins, there was no reason to continue to sacrifice animals.

    I once heard the relationship between the two laws explained this way. God’s law, when understood in the light of His perfect love for us, tells us what sin is. Moses’ law, told how to seek forgiveness of sin prior to Jesus.

    So did Christ fulfill the law? If talking about God’s law, he did in that he took our death sentence. If talking about Moses’ law he did because the sacrificial system of Moses’ law pointed to Christ.

    Finally, Christ said, “this people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and honoureth me with their lips but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matt 15:8,9. Brothers and sisters, if you love Jesus, if you accept him as your personal savior, then your heart should be with him. He said, if you love me, keep my commandments, John 14:15. We are each held personally accountable to God and Jesus – our salvation is not dependent on what our Church preaches. We should all be seeking the fellowship of those who are following the Bible and not the traditions of men.

    May God bless you in your search for Him through Bible truth.

  9. One thing to remember is that Jesus said Pray ye that your flight not be in the winter or on the Sabbath Day.
    If Sunday the first day of the week was to be the new worship day then Jesus would have said it.
    But he did not. Satan hates every thing that God has good and great and awesome. If satan cannot destroy it he will make up a counter fit. Like the convincing people that the first day of the week
    (Sunday) is the new Sabbath. also look at Marriage instead of having one man and one women satan was able to convince people that is was ok for two males / two females to have sex with each other. that is not what marriage is in Gods eyes.
    One last thing to think and know about is that the Lord has his own name in the Sabbath.
    When Jesus called out to his Dad , Jesus said abba, abba why has though forsaken me etc.
    Look at the Word Sabbath. Abba is in there. Rome/ papacy, changed the Sabbath the 7th day of the week to the First day of the week. The Papacy claims it is a MARK of there authority. They claim that they have to power to change the Sabbath day the 7th to the 1st day of the week.
    That is the Mark of the beast. Sunday worship.

    The Lords Great 10 Commandments cannot be changed by anyone. They are Gods and that is why he said over and over if you LOVE ME Keep my COMMANDMENTS. Period.

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