The simple answer is that we are not required to keep it holy. This is a
basic New Testament doctrine which, unfortunately, many religious groups
have distorted. To prove this, consider Colossians 2:9f. “For in Christ
all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been
given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
In him, you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful
nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the
circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and
raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him
from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision
of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all
our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was
against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to
the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a
public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. 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

This passage teaches that under the New Covenant, when we are baptized (in
faith, of course) we are saved, not just from our sins, but from the
requirements of the Old Testament law. These laws and regulations were
“nailed to the cross.” They were merely a “shadow of the things which were
to come.” We are no longer under the obligation to obey the laws given to
the Jews by God through Moses. We are not required to be circumcised, we
are not required to make animal sacrifice, we are not required to go to a
priest when we have a skin disease. In fact, we do not have a separate
priesthood, but all Christians are priests (1 Peter 2:9). The entire point
of the book of Galatians is that if followers of Christ return to
law-keeping as a basis for salvation, they lose their salvation in Christ
and are cut off from fellowship with God. Heaven forbid that anyone should
teach that we must make animal sacrifices, or abstain from pork or to
observe the Sabbath!

I will admit that someone might say that the Sabbath is an exception to
this rule, as it was actually initiated separately, under Abraham, not
Moses. This is true, but consider Colossians 2:16 which specifically lists
observance of the Sabbath as a thing which we should not judge anyone
over. This leads to a second point. If anyone chooses on their own to
observe a Sabbath for their own personal reasons (or if one chooses not to
eat pork or to abstain from alcoholic beverages or to be circumcised),
that is absolutely fine with New Testament teaching. One gets in very very
big trouble with New Testament teaching when one teaches that observance
of the Sabbath is required for salvation. This is false doctrine, and
according to Galatians, I would say that such a teaching would endanger
the teacher’s salvation!

One more comment. A common reference used here is which is often
misunderstood comes from Matthew 5:17, in which Jesus says, “Do not think
that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to
abolish them but to fulfill them.” Some say that this means that the
Mosaic Law is still in effect. That is not correct. What Jesus is saying
here is that he fulfilled the requirements of the law, so that we do not
need to do so ourselves. We know this, not from Matthew 5, necessarily,
but from the context of Galatians, Colossians, Romans (“what the law was
powerless to do…” Romans 8:3) , Hebrews 8,9 (“they serve at a sanctuary
that is a copy and a shadow”) and so forth. If there is any clear teaching
of the New Testament, it is that through Christ, the requirements of the
Law are met, and that through the blood of Jesus, those who put their
faith in him and are baptized are saved by the blood of Jesus, not by
obedience to the Law of Moses. Romans 7 and many other passages shows that
the Law of Moses was given to prepare for the Law of Christ, which
superceded it.

John Oakes, PhD

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