The Sabbath and Legalism

It’s coming up on the Sabbath where I live, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about what the Sabbath is and address the issue of “legalism” while I’m at it.  The Sabbath, according to the Bible, is the seventh day of the week (Saturday) [Exodus 20:8-11], not the first day of the week (Sunday).  It has never been changed according to Scripture.  If anyone says that the Sabbath is Sunday, they either don’t know Scripture, or are lying.  And anyone who says anything like “cults worship on Saturday” is protecting an unbiblical practice from examination.  As a side-note, the Sabbath is not a day of worship, but a day of rest.

Now, the moment that anyone makes any claims like the one I just made above, regardless of how much Scriptural support you give for you claim, others who claim to be Christian will say that you’re being “legalistic”.  That’s right:  Legalism is keeping the commands of God while “grace” is substituting God’s commandments for your own traditions.  It would be interesting to see what these people say loving God is.

The reasoning behind these claims is “Jesus fulfilled the Law so we don’t have to.”  They twist passages like Matthew 5:17 and do some mental gymnastics to justify their claims that God’s commandments don’t have to be obeyed in spite of the fact that they haven’t been abolished.  They also ignore or twist the next three verses warning against ignoring and teaching against God’s commands.  And last time I checked, Matthew 4:4 is never quoted as if they’re cherry-picking the verses that appear to support their claims without mentioning the vast array of verses that refute their claims.

In terms of setting aside God’s commandments in favor of human traditions, Jesus has some pretty strong rebukes concerning those people.  In Mark 7:1-13 (which has nothing to do with food), the Pharisees criticize Jesus for not requiring his disciples to wash their hands before they eat.  This is a tradition that the Pharisees came up with, not a command of God.  The Pharisees also claimed that you could become defiled by what you ate, yet another human tradition.  Yet they did not keep God’s commandments, except for the ones they wanted to keep.  The church does the exact same thing today, and they twist Jesus’ warning against them into a license to break God’s commands concerning what is and is not food.  The next part of the Chapter, verses 14-23, is twisted from its original meaning, which is Jesus spelling-out the fact that what you eat cannot make you unclean.  There is nothing written in God’s Law saying that a person can become unclean by what they eat.  That is a tradition of the Pharisees that Jesus flatly contradicted.  Jesus spelling-out what is already according to God’s Law is not him redefining what things are food.

About the “loving God” part I mentioned earlier.  The Bible defines what it means to love God in 1 John 5:2-3.  Love for God is keeping his commands.  Those who refuse to keep his commandments hate him, and those who do keep his commandments love him.  These same two verses also say that God’s Law is not burdensome.  So anyone who says it is burdensome is a heretic, for they have contradicted scripture.  In fact, the Law gives freedom to those who obey it [James 1:25 & 2:12]!  Therefore, anyone who uses the word “legalism” as an excuse for breaking God’s Law hates God.

Many will misquote and twist Acts 15:19:20 to say that we don’t need to keep anything more than the 4 rules mentioned.  I refuted this falsehood on my main site.  When confronted with the next verse, Acts 15:21, these people will again utilize mental gymnastics and make it look like the Gentiles coming into the faith would never learn anything more than what was written in the previous verse.  In other words, they would not be taught how to love God according to these claims.  Nevermind the fact that sin is breaking God’s Law [1 John 3:4] and that only those who keep the Law are righteous [Romans 2:13].  In fact, the only reason anyone can know what sin is because the Law defines what is sin [Romans 7:7]!  So the Gentiles would be attending Synagogue on every Sabbath, learning whatever portion of the Law was being taught that week.  And after one year, they would know the entire law, and would be obeying it.

Also, righteousness is by faith in Jesus [Romans 3:21-22].  And since we already discussed how righteousness is obedience to God’s Law according to Romans 2:13, then we should conclude that we keep God’s Law by faith.  In fact, Romans 3:31 says exactly that!  Those who are justified by faith keep God’s Law.  And obedience to God’s commandments is the proof of your faith in Jesus [James 2:18].  Anyone who deliberately keeps sinning after coming to the knowledge that what they’re doing is sinful has no sacrifice to atone for their sins [Hebrews 10:26]!  And sin is disobedience to God’s commands/Law [1 John 3:4].

Therefore, if anyone claims that I or anyone else is being “legalistic”, then they must prove that said person is adding to the commands of God.  Otherwise, they are guilty of making a false accusation.  Any other definition of legalism should, and will be, rejected.

In keeping with the Sabbath, there will be no blog post tomorrow or on any of the special Sabbaths defined in the Bible.  But other than that, I intend to post here every day.  Sabbath starts Friday at sundown and ends Saturday at sundown.  From that time, according to Eastern Standard/Daylight Time, there will be zero blog posts here.