Should We Observe the Sabbath Day (Saturday)?

No, Christians don't need to observe the Sabbath day (Saturday). In ancient times, the Jews were required by the Old Testament Law to rest on the Sabbath day (Exodus 16:23-29, 20:8-11, 31:14-16, 35:2-3, Leviticus 16:31, 23:3-32, 24:8, 25:2-6, 26:34, Numbers 15:32, 28:9-10, and Deuteronomy 5:12-15). However, Christians are freed from the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament that the Jews were required to follow as a daily way of life.

As Christians, we don't live under the law, but rather under grace (Romans 2:12-27, 3:19-31, 4:13-16, 5:13-20, 6:14-15). Romans 6:14 says "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." Although everything exists by the grace of God, through that grace He gave the Jews the Law as a way of life. Although He manifested Himself to them by grace, He still demanded that they keep the Law as rules for their daily lives. They were required to offer sacrifices, offerings, and tithes, to rest on Saturdays, and to obey hundreds of other moral, civil, and religious laws. We Christians are freed from the law, and now God not only reveals Himself through grace, but he wants us to live according to grace as a way of life. We can avoid the legalism of things like placing one day above the others by resting on the Sabbath day.

Galatians 4:10 and Colossians 2:16 illustrate this principle by showing that since we're not under the law, we no longer must refrain from all work on Saturdays, as was required of the Jews. The law was given to make us conscious of sin (Romans 3:20), and to teach us grace (Galatians 3:24), and once grace is learned, the law is void because the love of Jesus fulfilled the law for us (Romans 13:10). The Old Testament Jews obeyed God in order to receive His blessings on their lives. We Christians obey God because He already has blessed us. By receiving His grace, love, and blessings, we want to obey Him, and by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, we will obey Him (Romans 7:4). This is what is so critical about grace. To learn grace (Galatians 3:24) and to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18) is our first step toward pleasing God in this--His Age of Grace. God freed us from the law (Romans 6:14), and we are dead to the law (Romans 7:4). Living under the law means living under a curse (Galatians 3:10), but Christ freed us from that slavery to the law (Galatians 5:1).

Of course, much of the Old Testament law constituted a moral code, which for Christians today. For example, the seventh commandment said not to commit adultery. Adultery is also forbidden for Christians today, as reiterated in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

However, the religious observances, such as resting on the Sabbath day, are not reiterated in the New Testament for Christians. In fact, the observance of the Sabbath day is revoked in the New Testament. Colossians 2:16-17 says "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."

The Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people as a system of maintaining their freedom as a nation. They were given to them right after they were freed from slavery in Egypt, and in order to remain free, they had to establish law and order. In this way, the Ten Commandments are still valid. For example, if we didn't forbid stealing today, we would probably eventually lose our freedom. However, the religious rituals of the Old Testament law are not valid for Christians today.

If we still lived by the Law as a way of life, we would still offer animal sacrifices, which would indicate that Christ wasn't sufficient as our Passover sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7). The principles behind the Ten Commandments are still valid however. For example, it's probably a good idea to rest on one day of the week, in order to regain our strength for continued work.

Some people today refer to Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, but this is a poor analogy. Sunday is just a day the Church has traditionally set aside for worship, probably because Christ arose from the grave on a Sunday. However, by Colossians 1:16-17 above, no day of the week or year is any more important than any other day.

Owen Weber 2009