The Sabbath Issue

Chapter 5. The Moral Law and the 10 Commandments

The Moral Law of God is unchanging and eternal, being based in the very nature of God, and as such is independent of particular circumstances found in the Creation. The one word that summarises it best is ‘LOVE’. The Moral Law did not begin with Moses and terminate at Calvary. The Moral Law existed before Moses and continues after the Cross, because it is eternal in nature. Moral laws are eternal principles that reflect the nature of God, transcending all covenants and circumstances. So it is not necessary to hold onto the Law of Moses out of a desire to uphold the Moral Law, because it exists independently of the Law of Moses. The Moral Law of God is eternal and was necessarily incorporated into both the Old and New Covenants (that is why 9/10 Commandments are in both). 

The Law of Moses incorporated Moral Law, but it did not originate it. It was always wrong to murder and steal, even before Moses, because these laws originated with the eternal Moral Law of God. However, it was not always wrong for man to not keep the Sabbath, because by nature it is not part of the eternal Moral Law of God. This makes the Sabbath essentially different from the other 9 (of the 10) Commandments. It only became wrong for Jews after Moses to fail to keep the Sabbath holy, because of the Covenant they made with God at that time (the Sabbath being the Covenant-Sign). 

There is a great deal of similarity between the Old Testament Law of Moses and the New Testament Law of Christ, because they both necessarily incorporate the unchanging eternal Moral Law of God. 
Both the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ includes the Moral Law, but they did not originate it. The 9 Commandments did not originate with Moses, but as part of the eternal Moral Law, they were incorporated into the Law of Moses. Thus 9 out of the 10 Commandments derive from Moral Law, and so are also included in the New Covenant. Just because moral laws that are in the old Law are also repeated in the new Law, it does not mean that we are still under the old Law-System, and that the Law of Moses is still in effect. Just because the New Covenant contains 9 out of the 10 Commandments doesn’t mean we are under the 10 Commandments. We are under the new Law of Christ, which also includes these 9 Commandments. However the 4th Commandment (Sabbath Law) is not included in the New Covenant (Testament) as we have seen. 

By its very nature, the 4th Commandment (the Sabbath Law) is NOT eternal Moral Law, but temporal, ceremonial Law, and so it is not automatically and necessarily included (repeated) as part of the New Covenant Law. When we study the New Testament, not only
do we discover that there is a complete absence of any Sabbath Law but we are also explicitly told that it is NOT binding for us today. 

*One helpful example of changing from one Law-System to another as we grow up, is what happens when you leave School. This is a Biblical example of the change from the Old Covenant Law to the New Covenant Law, as we saw in Galatians 3:23-4:7. 

When I was at School, I was under its Law-System of rules and punishments which included no cheating in exams, no lying to the teacher, no bullying, as well as such things as bed-time at 9pm. Now I am no longer under my old School-Law (praise God!), although there was not anything wrong with it. It just is no longer appropriate for me at my level of maturity. I still have a rule of life, which includes the same moral absolutes that were included as part of the School Law (such as no cheating, lying and bullying), but I have much more freedom in other respects. I am free to go to bed at 10, 11 or 12pm and not be punished! Now you can choose to voluntarily live by the old School-Law, but it may be a sign of immaturity, that you still need to have that structure upon you! 

Now it would be false logic to say that because I still abide under a ‘no-bullying’ law, that I am still under the law of my school, because it also had a no-bullying law. This law does not originate from my school, but from God’s eternal Moral Law (love), which, by necessity, should be incorporated into any good law-system. So being free from the law of my school does not mean I am free from 

God’s eternal Moral Law. How I live is no longer based on the old school rules, but on a higher law (even though they may often agree) I respect the law against bullying, not because I am still under the old school-law, but because the new law I am under also forbids it. 

Likewise, just because many (9) of the 10 Commandments are repeated in the New Testament Law of Christ, it does not mean that we are still under the old Law-System of Moses (with its 10 Commandments) that God gave to Israel. That was a separate Law System, that is now obsolete. We are now under a higher, better Law - the Law of Christ. These 9 Commandments did not originate with Moses, but from God’s eternal Moral Law; and as such they were also necessarily incorporated into the new Covenant Law of Christ. We are under those 9 Commandments now, not because we are still under the Law of Moses, but because they are part of the eternal Moral Law, and so are incorporated into the Law of Christ. 

But the Sabbath Commandment is different, being ceremonial and typological in nature. It is not part of God’s eternal Moral Law, being based on Creation and man’s need, rather than on an eternal absolute, as Jesus said: “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath is NOT included in the New Testament Law of Christ, as it was a typological, ceremonial Shadow of things to come, but now the Substance is here in Christ. Therefore, in the New Covenant, we are not under Sabbath Law.

*Another false assumption is that the 10 Commandments are composed entirely of Moral Law, and therefore they must all still apply today, including the Sabbath Law. This is just an assumption that does not hold up under closer scrutiny (see the next Chapter). The 10 Commandments are not necessarily purely Moral Law. Although they do contain much Moral Law (9/10 Commandments), they are not entirely composed of it, since the 4th Commandment, the Sabbath Law is, by its very nature, Ceremonial, not Moral. 

The Sabbath’s inclusion in the 10 Commandments does not necessarily mean it is part of God’s eternal Moral Law - that is mere assumption, for there may be another good reason for its inclusion, and indeed there is: whilst 9 out of the 10 Commandments codify aspects of Moral Law, the Sabbath Law (although Ceremonial) was included in the 10 Commandments along with the 9 Moral Laws, because of its special importance to Israel as the SIGN (the wedding-ring)of the Mosaic Covenant. 

In writing the 10 Commandments in Stone, God was not saying they were more inspired or perpetual than the other 603, which are equally inspired by God. So why did God write these 10 Commandments in Stone? It was not because they defined the Moral Law, because they are not purely Moral Law, and moreover 

there are moral laws in the Law of Moses that are not included in the 10 Commandments. God was highlighting these 10 Commandments to Israel for their special attention (for didactic emphasis). The reason the Ceremonial Sabbath Law was included along with the 9 Moral Laws was due to its special role as the Covenant SIGN, so it was vital that Israel were faithful to keep it. 

This essential difference between the Sabbath Law (the 4th Commandment) and the other 9 Commandments, is confirmed when we look at the New Covenant Law of Christ, which clearly affirms the 9 Commandments as still binding, but explicitly denies the Sabbath as being binding today. Thus it regards only the 9 Commandments as eternal Moral Law binding upon all men. As Moral Law, the 9 Commandments are naturally repeated in the New Covenant, whereas, as Ceremonial Law, the Sabbath is not. This confirms the Sabbath Law is Ceremonial, unlike the other 9. 

Since we are now under a Law-System that only includes 9 out of the 10 Commandments, we cannot be under the old Law-System that included all 10 Commandments. Instead we must be under a New-System, that includes only 9 of the 10 Commandments.

So we are not under the Law of Moses with its 10 Commandments! But don't panic! We are not promoting lawlessness and immorality. 

We just need to understand clearly what Laws God requires us to keep. We are now under the New Covenant, which includes all the Moral Laws of God. Therefore the 9 Moral Commandments are included in the New Covenant, but not the Ceremonial Sabbath. 

Summary: We are now in Christ, not Moses and are under the New Testament Law of Christ, not the Old Testament Law of Moses. The old Law has been replaced by a new and better Covenant with a new and higher Law - the Law of Christ (as codified in the New Testament). So believers are not under the Law-System of Moses (which includes the 10 Commandments), but rather the Law of Christ. Thus the 10 Commandments, as a set of laws intrinsic to the Law of Moses, are no longer in force. Instead we are under the New Testament Law, which includes 9 of the 10 Commandments, because they are part of the eternal Moral Law. But it does NOT include the 4th (Sabbath) Commandment, since it is not Moral Law. Its inclusion in the 10 Commandments doesn’t make it Moral Law. It was included because of its special importance as the ceremonial SIGN of the Covenant. The fact that the Sabbath Law is different from the other 9 Commandments is proven by it not being repeated in the New Covenant unlike the other 9, which, as Moral Laws are necessarily repeated. (Both the old Law of Moses and the new Law of Christ include the Moral Law, but they did not originate it).

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