“And the LORD said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31:12-17)
There is a growing movement within the body of Christ today which is attempting to do something that for years prior would have been almost impossible to do – deceive. This deception is very cunning as well as very disturbing. The deception? It is called the Sabbath.
Many would be put off by that declaration, that the Sabbath, a day appointed by God, would be considered a dangerous doctrine, yet the truth is, anything which is not based on the cross, but on past rituals and observances such as the Sabbath day is in fact a false doctrine simply because what once was, is no longer, and what has past is past. Yet there are some, enemies of the cross (Philippians 3:18), who have crept in unaware, teaching things they ought not, and to make matters worse, they are using something which has literally been done away with to deceive many in the process.
When God instructed Moses concerning the commandments, he did so to set apart the nation of Israel from the other nations, in essence, God separated a people for himself, who would be called by him, chosen by him and guided by him. God then set a series of both moral laws and ceremonial laws which would guide the Jews into perfect fellowship with him (the law), however, the law, while it was good, could not remove sin. Not even the blood of bulls and goats could not forgive sin, but only temporarily cover it, it would take a perfect, sinless sacrifice which would be found in Jesus Christ. The law could not do this, and thereby, neither could keeping the Sabbath. Yet today we have a small group of men and women who are attempting to once again draw believers back into law by observing a past custom – The Sabbath, and it is sin.
Romans 8:3 says “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,“. What Paul was making clear was this, the law under Moses was for a past purpose at that point in time, keep the nation of Israel under God’s order of righteousness by doing something (keeping to the commandments such as the Sabbath). The law, as Paul makes clear, was about doing things. But Paul goes on to say that God did something perfect, even greater that the law could not do – which is use the perfect sacrifice of Christ and his finished work on the cross what the law could never do – make us righteous by faith.
When the nation of Israel kept the Sabbath, they did so (under the law of Moses) for rest for there was no work which could be done, everything had to be done before sunset. Under the law, lifting a finger to do anything remotely considered work was sin and punishable by death. It was that severe if violated. It was required that when the 7th day approached, not only was all of the people of Israel were to rest that day, but so were the animals as well, even those who were guests in the land were equally to honor the Sabbath and thereby keeping to the law, even if they were not believers, if they were guests in the land, they had to keep to the law, and the penalty was severe as previously mentioned. So if we who are now under grace and not the law (for the law has been fulfilled thru the finished work of the cross) how can we continue to keep something which God never required the church to keep? The truth is we don’t, and that’s the measure by which Satan is lying to many within the modern church today, to remove the object of salvation (the cross) and instead, place their trust and faith into keeping a particular day. Again, to try to earn any type of righteousness, to keep to a particular day when God never once ordered the church to do, to attempt to look to anything other than the cross is sin, and those who teach keeping to a particular day is teaching a lie, and worse, they are leading people into rebellion.
Jesus said in John 15:10 “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” Many try to use this particular verse to retain the law (the Mosaic law) but they would be wrong. The truth is, what some attempt to do is exactly what Satan did to Eve when he said to her “Did God really say?” The truth of Jesus’ words in John 15:10 is this, that we keep Christ the object of our faith which can only be done by simply believing what he did on the cross. John 6:53 reminds us exactly what the commandment Jesus is referring to, and it’s not keeping to the law nor the Sabbath, “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
So why are many attempting to return back to the law and keeping to the Sabbath? Because they reject the cross, it’s as simple as that. Now some would argue that they would never put the cross underneath the Sabbath, but the fact is, anything which does not point the person to the cross as the sole supplier of rest (which is what Christ is – rest) which gives the individual salvation and not only salvation, but keeps them perfect in the eyes of God (Colossians 1:22) is sin! So to say that we must honor God through a work (which is what the Sabbath is now – a work, a feeble attempt to justify oneself to God) denigrates the cross to make it non-effect (1 Corinthians 1:17).
Here’s what the reader needs to understand about the cross and the Sabbath. The cross is the foundation by which all sin as well as the law was dealt with. When Jesus said “It is finished” he meant it! Not only was sin and the law dealt with on the cross, but so was attempting to do anything which would attempt to garner anything from God (favoritism). The truth is, the cross settled the law and now we have a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22, Hebrews 8:6). Not only did Christ fulfill the law, he tore the veil of the temple in two pieces. This is why trying to keep to the Sabbath is not only man’s feeble attempt to justify himself before God, it is actually sin, sin because it’s asking people to once again try to do something which cannot be done but by simple faith. Listen to the writer of Hebrew 8:13 “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
Yet what I’ve described is nothing new, it occurred before, many years before and it can be read in Acts 15:1 “Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” What these certain men were attempting to do was to diminish the words of Paul, and worse, attempt to stop the work of the early church. These men, which like today, were attempting to refute the message of grace alone through faith and trying to make the law of Moses added to the law of grace, which could not be, and rightly so.
When people attempt to keep to the Sabbath, they fail to understand that even though, as sincere as they might be in their justification of doing so, they are in essence making the work Christ did for us on the cross of no importance. They are attempting to try and do something to show their faithfulness to God, but let the reader understand that if we attempt to do anything outside of faith in Christ and the cross, then whatever we do, it is sin! Hear the words of Paul once more in Galatians 5:6 “For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” Paul is referring to the law, which includes the Sabbath! It is quite evident that anything other than faith is all God is looking for – faith in the cross.
This is the subtleness of deception, it takes one aspect of scripture and twists it so that the undiscerning believer won’t catch what is being presented, it is yet another question Satan is presenting to the church today “Did God really say?”, but in this regard it is attempting to remove the cross and in its place it is pointing to something else – a day. When the believer tries to justify or look to anything from the past such as the Sabbath, refraining from meats, circumcision, or anything else that was once old and fulfilled on the cross, then it is a dangerous doctrine because it will lead men astray and not to Christ, that makes it antichrist.