The Sabbath Issue

Chapter 11: Principles of Righteousness

We have established that God gave the Sabbath Law to Israel as part of Old Covenant of Moses, but the New Testament is clear that believers in Christ are under the New Covenant, in which there is no Sabbath Law. Let us now this important issue from another angle. Although we are not under the Sabbath as Law, there is a Sabbath Principle of taking a weekly day of rest, that does apply to us today. The Sabbath is not a LAW for us, but it does contain a PRINCIPLE of wisdom about how we should structure our lives. 

Just because we are free in Christ, that does not mean we are free to sin, or to live chaotic, disordered lives. We have been delivered from the Law of Moses, but this does not mean we should not have structure to our lives. We are now under the Law of Christ, which gives us much more freedom, but that just makes us more responsible to make right decisions about how to structure and discipline our lives, as a spiritual adult. The New Law treats us as a mature, responsible grown-up, rather than as a child, who has to be told what to do in every detail of his life and when to do it.

When we were at school, there were strict rules about what to do at different times: eating, homework, bed-times.... There was nothing wrong with them, but now we’ve grown up, we have more freedom and responsibility to choose when we eat and sleep. It would be a sad reversion to childhood, if I tried to live under the old school law! Now, those laws were good, they taught us principles of discipline and wisdom (like not going to bed too late and spoiling the next day!), but we are no longer kids who have to be told what to do every moment of the day. Thank God, we are considered mature enough now to apply these principles in the way that works best for us, which will differ from how others will apply them. That’s all part of growing up: taking responsibility for the details of our life and organising the structure and timing of our own life. 

Now, we are still under the Moral Law that we learnt as children (no stealing, cheating etc), but we are free from the other Laws that governed the details and timings of our lives. Likewise, the Law of Christ we are now under, includes all the Moral Laws, but NOT other Laws, like the Sabbath, that govern the details and timings of our lives. Instead, God gives us freedom in these areas, expecting us to structure our lives according to His Principles (as revealed in His Word), as we seek to find and do His specific will for our lives.

Galatians 3:23-25 tells us the Law of Moses was just like an old school law that no longer applies once we have grown up:“Before Faith (in Christ, that is ‘the New Covenant Faith’) came, we were kept under guard by the LAW, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the LAW was our TUTOR to 
bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith (in Christ) has come we are no longer under a TUTOR.” 

This plainly says we are no longer under the Law of Moses (including the Sabbath) which applied to an earlier stage of mankind’s development in the progressive revelation of God. We are now under a higher Law, in which we have more freedom to decide how we are to apply the Principles of God in our life. In one way, it would be much easier to be back under the old law, because then that would take many decisions away from us! 

The Sabbath is one example among many where we are not under a Law that demands our punishment if we disobey it, but we are still responsible before God to apply His Principles to the way that we live our lives, in order to glorify Him. We are accountable to God in how we apply His Principles to structure and discipline our lives to serve Him in the best way possible. The blessing we will see in our lives does depend on us walking in His Righteousness (that is, in the right ways, according to His Principles).

We are free in Christ, but that does not mean we are free to sin, or to live chaotic, disordered lives. Our Freedom in Christ means that we have the freedom to decide how we apply these Principles in the details of our lives, as we seek to do God’s will (for some will 
prefer a stricter routine than others), but it is not a freedom (or an excuse) to sin, or to be lazy and disorganised in our lifestyle. 

The New Testament teaches us that we are not under LAW, but under GRACE, but that certainly does not mean we are free to sin:
Romans 6:14,15: “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under Grace. 
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law but under Grace? Certainly not!” 

*We need to STRUCTURE our lives, based on the Principles that are revealed by God in His Word. 

A key Scripture here is what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33: 
“Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His RIGHTEOUSNESS (His right ways of doing things), and (THEN) all these things(His blessings and provisions) shall be added to you.” 

1. ‘FIRST’: This implies we must establish PRIORITIES in our life, starting with putting God first. Our basic order of priorities should be: (1) God, then (2) our family, (3) our work and ministry, then finally: (4) “all these things” (that is our own needs). 

He is saying rather than putting ourselves and our own needs first (selfishness), we must put God first (making Him our first priority). Then, His blessings will be released, our needs will be met and everything else will fit into place and work as it ought to do. 

This is the FIRST PRINCIPLE of godly wisdom: Put God First, let Him be first in your heart: “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God.” 

2. But He does not stop there: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness (the right way of doing things in your life).” We must also apply this dedication to put God first practically into every area of our lives: “and (seek) His Righteousness (in your life).” His Righteousness is His right way of doing things. Seeking His Righteousness means structuring (disciplining) our lives according to His Principles. Our dedication to put God first must find practical application. God’s Principles of Righteousness are the ways we practically put God first in the details of our life. By them, we apply our dedication to God practically, to every area. 

3. Then, when we implement God’s Principles, His blessings and provisions will be released into our lives: “and (then) all these things shall be added unto you.” Without these Principles in place, we will be the losers. They are necessary for the stability of our lives and for our consistent spiritual growth. 

Discipline, structure, and order are not dirty words! We need these disciplined habits. God is a God of peace and order, not confusion: 

1Corinthians 14:33: “God is not the author of confusion (disorder), but of peace.” 

2Timothy 1:7: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of (SELF) DISCIPLINE (or sound mind).” 
The last one (discipline, sound-mind, self-control) is also true!

Galatians 5:22,23: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, SELF CONTROL (DISCIPLINE).”

Let’s look at some of these PRINCIPLES and structures, because without them in place, we will be the losers. They are necessary for the stability of your life and your spiritual growth. They are the ways that we practically put God first in the details of our lives. 

* 1. PRAY over your FOOD!: God expects us to pray over our food and give thanks for it as part of our godly lifestyle.

1Timothy 4:1: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in the Last Days some will depart from the Faith (of the New Covenant), giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” This tells us that many demons are sent to promote false doctrines. These are religious spirits, which bring in deceptions designed to pull believers into error and bondage. In the New Testament ‘the Faith’ always refers to the body of New Testament Truth. So these teachings pull people away from the realities of our New Covenant in Christ. In order to mislead believers, they must use the Word of God, but they twist it. Helpfully, Paul highlights one of these demonic false doctrines, so that we can recognise it when we hear it:

1Timothy 4:3-5: “COMMANDING to ABSTAIN from FOODS, which God created to be received with thanksgiving, by those who believe and know the (New Testament) Truth. For EVERY CREATURE of God is good (clean), and NOTHING is to be REFUSED, if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is SANCTIFIED by the Word of God and Prayer.” 

This states that anyone in this time of the New Testament, who TEACHES and COMMANDS you (on the basis of Divine Law) that you are to abstain from certain foods, are actually listening to and propagating doctrines of demons. This is not talking about someone who advises you on eating, as a health issue, but someone who commands you as a religious doctrine based on Divine Law. This certainly includes people who teach that the Law of Moses with its Food Law still applies to us today. Moses designated certain foods (like pork) as unclean, and it was forbidden for Israel to eat them. But now, having served their purpose the Old Covenant Food Laws, along with the other Ceremonial Laws have passed away in Christ, having been rendered inoperative as Law through the Cross. Now in Christ, we are free (as far as Divine Law is concerned) to eat ALL FOODS, for God created them, and every creature is GOOD (clean), NOTHING is to be REFUSED on the basis of Divine Law (you are free to refuse it, if you don’t like it, of course). Teaching that tries to get you back under the Old Covenant and its Food Law causes you to depart from the New Covenant Faith, and is not only misguided, but demonic according to 1Timothy 4, which states this in the clearest possible way. 

Moreover, it is a fulfilled prophecy, for this false teaching has indeed sprung up mostly in the last days of the Church-Age contradicting the clear New Testament teaching that Christ has: “declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:19).

1Timothy 4 sets us free to eat anything, but we are still responsible to eat wisely and take care of our body, which is a Temple of the Holy-Spirit and not abuse it. We are free to eat anything AS LONG AS we receive it: “with thanksgiving”, through the Word and Prayer, that is through a scripture-based prayer that gives thanks to God for the food. This puts God first in our eating and drinking so that it is unto the Lord: “He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks”(Romans 14:6). 

Moreover Timothy says the prayer also SANCTIFIES the food (brings God’s Presence and blessing on the food). Now God will only sanctify what is already clean. God has cleansed all foods, but we must dedicate it to God with a prayer of thanksgiving and then He will sanctify (supernaturally bless) it to our bodies. God will bless (sanctify) any food that is offered to Him by a believer. But twice He insists it must be: “received with thanksgiving” (v3,4), “...for it is SANCTIFIED by the Word of God and Prayer” (v5). 

*Jesus gave us His example when He fed the 5000: 
Matthew 14:18: “He took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish, and looking up to heaven, He BLESSED and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples.” John 6:11: 
“Jesus took the loaves, and when He had GIVEN THANKS, He distributed them to the disciples.”
As He gave thanks for the food, that released God’s supernatural blessing on the food, to anoint and multiply it, to bless the eaters.

Likewise in Luke 24:30: “as He sat at the table with them, Jesus took bread, BLESSED IT and broke it, and gave it to them.”

One promise to use in your prayer is from Exodus 23:25
“You shall serve the Lord your God, and He will BLESS your bread (food) and your water (drink). And I will take sickness away from the midst of you.” As you pray over your food, believe that God’s presence and blessing comes upon it, so it will only do you good and not harm you in any way. Here is a prayer I use: “Lord, we thank You for this food, and we ask You to bless it to our body, giving us health and strength to serve You. Thank You for blessing this food and for taking all sickness from our midst.” 

I tried praying: “I cast out all the calories”, but it didn’t work! Likewise, you are free to take Medicine. God has provided all things in His Creation for our benefit, but we must use them with wisdom and avoid overdependence and addiction. But when you take medicine, receive it with thanksgiving, and believe that God’s healing power goes forth with it to cause you to recover. Praying over our food is one of the disciplines that we need to incorporate into our life, both to honour God, and for us to live in health.



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