3 Sabbath Principles Every Smart Christian Knows

Did you know that failing to observe the Fourth Commandment, the Sabbath commandment, can lead to moral deficiency?

True, Old Testament law is only applicable to the believer inasmuch as it relates to morality, but the Fourth Commandment addresses three ills you might otherwise overlook. It is quite possible to overcome these sins without observing the Sabbath, but smart Christians know that God instituted the Sabbath for our benefit.

Tossing it aside would be foolish.

William Warby (CC)

So here are the three negative consequences of ignoring the Sabbath:

 1. Self-abuse

The Fourth Commandment is the only of the Ten Commandments that deals directly with how you should treat yourself? One through three address how we relate to God. Five through ten how we relate to others.

The Fourth commandment deals with all three aspects, but it specifically speaks to how we should treat ourselves. And in debating Sabbath law with the Pharisees Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

God gave us the day to abstain from work for our benefit. The body needs refreshment; it’s not made to run seven days a week. Failing to rest from work leads to burnout and, over time, self-abuse.

1 Corinthians 6:19 says that our bodies are temples. We house the Holy Spirit. Neglecting to take care of that temple is a mistake.

2. Disrespect

God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses in the context of the recent Exodus from Egypt. The Sabbath was a reminder that once the Israelites were slaves and did not have the option to rest. As Moses says in Deuteronomy 5:

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. Verse 15.

God commanded voluntary rest as a way to remember that once they did not have the option.

In the same way we were slaves to sin, without rest. God freed us by sending His son to die in our place.

Neglecting to rest disrespects the sacrifice God made to set us free. Once you had no rest. Now that you are free don’t take up a new master like money, career, or vanity. Cease work on purpose as reminder of what Christ did on the cross, and as a reminder of the glory to come when you go to heaven.

3. Lack of Faith

The Sabbath is a bit of a dare on God’s part.

It’s as if He’s saying, “Do you trust that I’ll provide enough that you’ll stop work for one day?”

If you’re reading this, it means you have a computer and internet access. That means that, like me, you probably haven’t had to worry about food in a long time.

Yet you wouldn't know if from our behavior. We tend to toil endlessly, trying to control every aspect of our lives. In doing so, we demonstrate a lack of faith that God will provide what we really need.

Remember what Jesus said to Satan when He was starving in the desert? Quoting Deuteronomy he said, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). The Sabbath is an invitation to acknowledge the fact that not only will God provide our physical needs, but will save us from sin just as He promised.


If you enjoyed this post, you'll love my new book Do No Work: Beat Burnout, Find Inner Peace, and Strengthen Your Faith By Studying the Most Overlooked of the Ten Commandments. Stay tuned for more details!

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