MUST WE KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS?
Wayne S. Walker
Question: “If a person goes to church on Sunday rather than
Saturday or eats pork which is supposed to be unclean, is it true that he
doesn’t keep the commandments and will go to hell, as some say?”
This question raises the issue of whether mankind today is under the
Old Testament law of Moses which was given to the nation of Israel, or
under the New Testament law of Christ which is universal. And the answer
is found in Colossians 2.14-16 where Paul wrote of Jesus, “Having wiped
out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was
contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to
the cross…. Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or
regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths.”
Paul says plainly that Jesus took the Old Testament law of Moses out
of the way by nailing it to the cross and thus wiped out its
requirements. In this same context, Paul then refers to the two items
specifically mentioned in the question–observing the sabbath and
forbidding certain meats. These are things which many people strive to
bind today from the Old Testament but which Paul says are not to be the
basis for making judgments as to our service to God.
It is true that under the Old Testament law of Moses, the people of
Israel were to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy (Exodus 28.8-11).
The Sabbath day is the seventh day of the week, which we call Saturday.
But since the Old Testament law of Moses has been nailed to the cross and
taken out of the way, we need to determine what day of worship is
authorized in the New Testament will of Christ for all people today.
And we read in Acts 20.7, “Now on the first day of the week, when
the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the
next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”
Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians, or anyone esle, ever taught
to worship on the sabbath, but we do have this approved example of
disciples assembling on the first day of the week, which we call Sunday,
to break bread or observe the Lord’s supper. Thus, God will not judge us
as to whether we keep the sabbath or not, and we should not judge others
on that basis.
It is also true that under the Old Testament law of Moses, certain
meats such as pork were unclean and not to be eaten (Leviticus 11.1-8).
But since the requirements of the Old Testament law of Moses have been
wiped out, we need to learn what the New Testament will or Christ has to
say about this matter of eating meats. And the New Testament gives us no
dietary regulations whatever.
In 1 Timothy 4.1-4 Paul talked about those who would depart from the
faith. He said that they would be “commanding to abstain from certain
foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who
believe and know the truth.” The apostle then added, “For every creature
of God is good and nothing is to be refused if it is received with
thanksgiving.” Thus, we will not be judged as to whether we eat certain
meats or not, and again we should not judge others on that basis.
Certainly God demands that we keep His commandments for us today
(John 14.15 and 15.14, 1 John 5.3, Revelation 22.14). However, His
commandments for us today are not necessarily the same as those which He
gave to the people of Israel in the Old Testament law of Moses. Rather,
His will for us today is revealed in the New Testament law of Christ
(Hebrews 8.7-13). It may be that some of the commandments in the New
Testament are the same as some of those in the Old Testament, but that
does not mean that we are to obey all the commandments of the Old
Testament. Rather, it is by the will of Christ, not the Old Testament
law of Moses, that we are sanctified (Hebrews 10.9-10). [From “Search
for Truth,” Feb. 7, 1999.]
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