By Edwin & Sophia Christiaan
There are two passages in the New Testament that makes it abundantly clear that Gentile believers are not required to keep Jewish laws. After coming to an agreement about this important issue, the leaders of the First Church said the following to the believers,
“The Lord has spoken - He who made these things known so long ago. And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.”
Acts 15:17-20 NLT
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”
Acts 15:28-29 NLT
Based on these two scriptures, I was able to convince many over the years that according to the New Testament, Christians are not supposed to keep Jewish laws, rules, and commandments, but only to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. That’s it!
After Jesus healed a crippled man on the Sabbath, Jesus answered the Jewish leaders, saying He was always working!
“The Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. But Jesus replied, “My Father is ALWAYS working, and so am I.”
John 5:16-17 NLT
Jesus even said that He is Lord over the Sabbath.
“For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
Matthew 12:8 NLT
In other words, Jesus Christ, who is always working, had the authority to overrule the Pharisees with their religious traditions and regulations. Jesus, who created the Sabbath, is ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ and has every right to do whatever He wants on the Sabbath day, or any day for that matter.
That is why Jesus said,
“The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
Mark 2:27-28 NLT
When Jesus died on the Cross and rose from the dead, He became the fulfillment of our “Sabbath rest.” The Old Testament Law of the Sabbath is no longer needed, because,
“Christ gave His own body to destroy the Law of Moses with all its rules and commands.”
Ephesians 2:14b-15a CEV
Under the Old Covenant, people only had a “shadow” of what was to come. But when Christ came and instituted the New Covenant, there would no longer be a need for a shadow to point to a future reality – because Christ was that reality that was pointed to – and He was here now!
“The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves.”
Hebrews 10:1a NLT
So, the Apostle Paul explained that the Sabbath, along with any other holy days and ceremonies, are now just a thing of the past.
“So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality.”
Colossians 2:16-17 NLT
It is not only wrong to “import” Old Testament practices into the church today, but also outright disrespectful to what Christ came to do. Things like tithing, Jewish festivities, and keeping the Sabbath should never be practiced in the church today. If we do so, it shows that we have not understood that we are made free in Christ! Even worse, we basically consider Christ’s death useless and done in vain!
“If we can be acceptable to God by obeying the Law, it was useless for Christ to die.”
Galatians 2:21b CEV
Christian believers should never fall for the clever ploy by certain preachers, who take advantage of our Christian sentiments regarding the Jewish heritage of Christ, and make people sow money into Jewish feasts and festivals with false promises of getting financial blessings in return. There is no special blessing in these feasts. God does not reward such donations. It is a deception designed to keep people in religious bondage.
Remember, we really have been all-the-way set free from all worldly and religious rules. The Bible says they cannot “help” us with anything.
“You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world.
So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”
Colossians 2:20-23 NLT
Sabbath was a type of rest that the Jewish people were given by God to create a balance of work and rest. But, now that Christ came, we have entered a “permanent” rest, where we in effect, rest all the time when we are led by the Holy Spirit.
“So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today.”
Hebrews 4:7a NLT
In breaking with the Law of Moses, Jesus gave us His grace to live by. Under grace, there is no more struggling or travailing. We enjoy the peace of God within.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
Jesus made us right with God when He died and fulfilled the requirements of the Law in our place. Now we are no longer striving to please God by keeping rules and regulations.
“But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of trusting in him.”
Romans 9:31-32a NLT
The Apostle Paul explained that there is now freedom to worship God on any day we choose. There is therefore no Law of Sabbath in effect.
“Some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor Him.”
Romans 14:5-6 NLT