Freedom and Sabbath Duty

The Fourth Commandment should not be taken out of your Bible.  As a Christian, you should maintain it as you should the other nine.  However, the question remains, how should I keep it?  First, it is important to note that Sabbath observance should avoid legalism.  Reformed believers are neither neonomian (legalist) nor antinomian (libertarian).  Legalism is adherence to law as opposed to the gospel.  Legalists believe that God declares us righteous because of our works.  Legalism (neonomianism) is bondage and is always opposed to the gospel and Christian freedom. Christian freedom, nonetheless, is not licentious liberty (antinomianism), for it is “impossible for those who have been implanted into Christ by true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.”[1]  Sabbath observance therefore is a fruit of thankfulness.  It is part of our sanctification.  It is a work of grace through faith.  The Holy Spirit does not reveal the maintenance of a new Sabbath law to earn acceptance with God (Col. 2:16; Gal. 4:10). [2]  The Spirit rather gives power and ability to keep the Sabbath moral law revealed in creation and written on the heart.

Sabbath is a gift and a blessing, which differs from legal regulation that calls for formal observance to please God.  Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).  Sabbath duty is not “designed to put people in a straitjacket of do’s and don’ts.”[3]  A distortion of the Sabbath destroys its festive character and places the person under the covenant of works they cannot keep.  The Pharisees with their unbiblical casuistry “robbed the Sabbath of its characteristic gratitude for liberation.”[4]  Christians, free in Christ, keep and enjoy the Sabbath out of thankfulness for the grace given by God.

This Lord’s Day, I invite you to come to our worship service to hear the gospel and receive the means of grace that your soul may be refreshed that your conscience might find rest in the truth of God’s Word for He say’s every Lord’s Day at our church, “In Christ, you are My beloved.”


[1]Heidelberg Catechism Question 64, see Schaff, The Creeds, 328.

[2]Believers do not observe the Sabbath as Israel to obtain merit for typological rest and tenure in the land.

[3]Douma, The Ten, 114.

[4]Ibid., 119.

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