Legalism and Sabbath Observance

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Dear Reader,

The following is an Internet exchange between Bob Sands and A. Leroy Moore on legalism as it applies to Sabbath observance. The arrows > designate Bob Sands remarks:

Continued response to Bob Sands re: Sabbath Observance

In post #1 I considered your following claims, Bob:

>... the SDA conviction is not a consistent one. Whether it is using hotel
>accommodations for Daniel and Revelation seminars using the hotel staff
>that we wouldn't let be members because they didn't have the conviction to
>say no to the SDA group approaching them to accommodate their event on a
>day that we wish for them to keep sacred!!!
>The mere turning on the shower on Saturday morning shows the
>inconsistency. The water treatment plant manager that has to take duty on
>Saturday is not allowed to be a member yet we use the by- product without
>any twinge of conscience. The cop that has drunk detail on Friday or
>Saturday night is not allowed membership but let your house be robbed on
>the holy Sabbath hours and if the police weren't available, would our SDA
>brethern be some of the first to complain about community protection on
>the holy Sabbath.

Note: I encourage readers who may not have done so to read
reply #1 where I identify such claims with the legalistic
understanding of obedience that caused the priests in Christ's
day to accuse Him of Sabbath breaking. He informed them that
their accusations indicated their failure to grasp the
principles of the law which provide for practical necessities
of life and for ministry. But in doing so Jesus in no way
invited careless attitudes toward obedience.

We now consider your last three paragraphs, Bob:

>I personally have a hard time reconciling these questions. If everyone
>mandated shutting everything down on a Saturday or a Sunday today, there
>would be dire consequences. What it really boils down to is some of us
>accommodating others for their preferences.

I am surprised, Bob, that you would treat as personal
"preference" observance of God's sacred command, which
He personally proclaimed from Sinai and then wrote with
His own finger in stone! Nor does consistency mandate
"shutting everything down on" the Sabbath, with its
"dire consequences."

God expects prompt, full, and willing obedience. But
He never commands the impossible--or anything that is
not for our best good, now as well as hereafter. He knows
all and provides for all circumstances. With His laws are
practical principles of application which the priests of
His day overlooked--and which legalism may today overlook,
which prevent any "dire consequences."

>But this Bible verse I believe is important on this matter:
>Romans 14:5
>One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers
>every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
>I wonder if this sounds like a point that ought to be stood on so
>adamantly, possibly the objective of the SDA church should be looked at.
>Does it have a right to exclude and be inconsistent about it. Yes, many
>organization don't make logical sense. But hardly a place to leave the
>discussion if one is trying to be a seeker of truth, intellectually
>honest, just, and a purveyor of the way to salvation, IMHO.

Bob, you apparently see in this passage an end to all
discussion regarding the universal importance of the
Sabbath. For you have included it in multiple posts.
In the last one you quote it four or five times in
different versions. But that passage has nothing to
do with the weekly Sabbath--whatever the version.

Romans 14 addresses two issues relating to attitudes
toward those whose consciences are weak because of
their inadequate grasp of the gospel. Paul's primary
focus is upon foods offered to idols. He argues that,
since there is only one God and idols are nothing, foods
offered to idols, which were often sold in the market,
were not unclean (see the parallel passage, 1 Cor 8).

The other issue had to do with typical, ceremonial
Sabbaths which portrayed the coming of Christ and His
death. Upon His coming these were no longer binding.
A major issue in many of Paul's writings is the false
Judaizer demands that Gentiles be circumcised and keep
the ceremonial laws.

Paul did not, however, prescribe participation in such
feasts by Jewish Christians. Indeed, he himself attended
a number of feasts as a means of witness and was arrested
while observing a ceremonial cleansing ritual. But none
of these were binding, even upon Jewish Christians, follow-
ing Christ's fulfillment of the symbols contained therein.

Paul's argument in Romans 14 was that we should not
judge those who, because of spiritual immaturity felt
compelled to abstain from meats offered to idols or
those whose immature grasp of the gospel caused them
to consider it necessary to observe the ceremonial feast
days, which were also called Sabbaths. These, however,
were clearly distinguished from the 7th day Sabbath
(Lev 23:3 and 4-44).

The issue had to do with a judgmental spirit and negative
attitudes toward those who, eager to do all necessary
for salvation, felt compelled to observed ceremonial
statutes relating to idols and or ceremonial days.
Though we are not faced with this issue today, the
same principles apply to our present attitudes toward
those we consider legalistic.

Even non-SDA theologians recognize that Rom 14:5 has
nothing to do with the seventh-day Sabbath of the Lord.
Note how Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown correct Alfred for
so identifying it as you do with the 7th day Sabbath:

From this passage about the observance of days,
Alfred unhappily infers that such language could
not have been used if the sabbath-law had been in
force under the gospel in any form. Certainly it
could not if the Sabbath were merely one of the
Jewish festival days: but it will not do to take
this for granted merely because it was observed
under the Mosaic economy. And certainly if the
Sabbath was more ancient than Judaism; if even
under Judaism, it was enshrined amongst the eternal
sanctities of the Decalogue, uttered, as no other
parts of Judaism were, amidst the terrors of Sinai:
and if the Lawgiver Himself said of it, when on earth,
(Mk 2:28)--it will be hard to show that the apostle
must have meant it to be ranked by his readers amongst
those vanished Jewish festival days, which only
"weakness" could imagine to be still in force--
a weakness which those who had more light ought,
out of love, merely to bear with (See SDA Com. 635).

If Jameson, et al recognize the ceremonial nature of this
passage, surely it should not be difficult of Adventists
to recognize such. Indeed, God does not contradict Himself.
And Jesus declared that He had not come to abolish but
to fill full with meaning the law of God and warns against
the least violation and especially that teaching which
confuses God's little (weak) ones(Mt 5:17-19).

May God keep us faithful to Himself and may we reveal
this faithfulness in the loving obedience. Jesus declared
such obedience to be the test of our love for Him (Jn 14:15, 21--24).

A. Leroy Moore