The apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Rome, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). The discussion here is not over the weekly seventh-day Sabbath of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) but over the yearly feast days of the ceremonial law of Moses (Leviticus 23).
The whole chapter of Romans 14 is on judging one another (Verses 4, 10, 13). Jewish Christians were judging Gentile Christians for not observing them. Paul is simply saying, don’t judge each other because the ceremonial law is no longer binding.
Two Distinct Laws
Moses’ law was the temporary, ceremonial law of the Old Testament. It regulated the priesthood, sacrifices, feasts,rituals, meat and drink offerings, etc., all of which foreshadowed and ended at the cross. There were seven yearly holy days, or holidays, in ancient Israel which were also called sabbaths. These were in addition to, or “beside the Sabbaths of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:38), or seventh-day Sabbath.
This law was added “till the seed should come,” and that seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16, 19). The rituals and sacrifices of Moses’ law pointed forward to Christ’s sacrifice. When He died, this law came to an end.
God’s law has existed at least as long as sin has existed. The Bible says, “Where no law is, there is no transgression [or sin].” (Romans 4:15). According to the Bible, ” sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). God’s law “stand[s] fast for ever and ever” (Psalms 111:8).
Let’s examine closely these two laws:
|Called “the law of Moses” (Luke 2:22).|
|Called “law … contained in ordinances” (Ephesians 2:15).|
|Written by Moses in a book (2 Chronicles 35:12).|
|Placed outside the ark (Deuteronomy 31:26).|
|Ended at the cross (Ephesians 2:15).|
|Added because of sin (Galatians 3:19).|
|Contrary to us, against us (Colossians 2:14).|
|Judges no one (Colossians 2:14-16).|
|Carnal (Hebrews 7:16).|
|Called “the law of the Lord” (Isaiah 5:24).|
|Called Ten Commandments-“the royal law” (James 2:8).|
|Written by God on stone (Exodus 31:18; 32:16).|
|Placed inside the ark (Exodus 40:20).|
|Will stand forever (Luke 16:17).|
|Points out sin (Romans 7:7; 3:20).|
|Not grievous (1 John 5:3).|
|Judges all people (James 2:10-12).|
|Spiritual (Romans 7:14).|
|Perfect (Psalms 19:7).|
Jesus and the Sabbath
Jesus Himself kept the seventh day Sabbath as His custom (Luke 4:16). He said, “The son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day” (Matthew 12:8). And He stated, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). And He asked His followers, “If you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15). John the beloved confirmed Jesus’ words (1 John 2:3, 4).
Paul made it clear that the Moral law to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17), which includes the seventh day Sabbath commandment, is still binding today: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7).
And he added, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law?” (Romans 3:31). And he further emphasized that the circumcision of the Mosaic law was canceled at the Cross but keeping God’s commandments remains for ever binding: “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19).
In Romans 14:5, Paul counseled the believers, whose faith enables them immediately to leave behind all ceremonial feast days or holidays (yearly Sabbaths), that they should not despise others whose faith is less strong. Nor, in turn, may the latter group judge those who seem to them lax. Each believer was responsible to God (Romans 14:10–12).
The apostle said that what God expects of each of His servants is that he shall “be fully persuaded in his own mind” and conscientiously follow his convictions in accordance with the light he has received and understood so far. Among Christ’s followers there should be no force, no compulsion. A spirit of love should prevail at all times.
In His service,