Is the 4th commandment less important than the others?

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PaulMc

Puritan Board Freshman
It has puzzled me, particularly in recent months, as to why breaching of the 4th commandment seems to be taken far more lightly in many churches and among Christians than the breaking of other commandments.

It does seem, on a superficial level, far more acceptable to fellowship as Christians with a Sabbath-breaker than an adulterer for instance, but is this really right?
People might say that it is far less clear from Scripture that we are to observe the Sabbath than that we ought not to commit adultery, but the moral law is all of one, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

I understand that the practical implications would be difficult if one were to be as stringent in this as mentioned, but it's just something that's been on my mind...

Thoughts?
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
In Joel Beeke's book The Family at Church, he refers to Sabbath-breaking as a "national sin" (in the same context as homosexuality and abortion). Of course, the U.S. is a different nation than the U.K., but the point is well taken, in my opinion. It is just one more instance of the culture transforming the church rather than vice versa.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
I think it is the recipe that we tend to apply to all things that no longer fit with our culture:

Take 1 Sabbath, add 'Christian liberty', shake, don't stir, and voila - my very own Lord's Day, customized to me.

I think it is the misappropriation and twisting of the great liberty that we enjoy in Christ that makes this so detestable.
 

Rufus

Puritan Board Junior
There's non-religious benefits to a Sunday where people are off of work: i.e. eat a sunday dinner with the family, think about the week ahead and the week prior, takes away stress.
 

PaulMc

Puritan Board Freshman
Some people think there is no Sabbath Day for Christians but there is just the Lord's Day.

Do you mean such people deny the 4th commandment, or merely the calling of it as the 'Sabbath'?
I ask the question assuming that all on here recognise that the moral law is binding, as per the confessions...
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
Confessionally speaking, the Lord's Day *is* the Christian Sabbath. See WCF 21.7:

As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Some people think there is no Sabbath Day for Christians but there is just the Lord's Day.

Yes, some "spiritualize" sabbath away to mean only a general, nonspecific resting or making holy. This means little or no practical effect on the way they live- seven days, all common, all consumed on self.

But when you look at this more completely, we all rationalize disobedience to all ten commandments and sometimes that is brought into doctrine.

It's not like there is unity in a perfect keeping of commands 1-3 and 5-10 with only 4 is being excepted.

:2cents: only... I think one of the reasons command 4 is rationalized away so readily is because few things more than sabbath and tithing (giving) more regulate the way we live- "our" time and "our" money.

They require faith, discipline and sacrifice- regularly and in the ordinary course of life. They are measurable, and visible, and constant.

The fact that we can rationalize away any of God's commands ought frighten us of our sin, and be all the more cause us to cry out for, and rejoice in the mercy of our God!

Westminster Larger Catechism

Question 121: Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?

Answer: The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restrains our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it comes but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it;and that Satan with his instruments much labor to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.
 
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Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Does it "strike at the vitals of religion" to have a low view of the fourth commandment?
That question was asked in a previous thread, and someone pointed to a new book, whose author and title I've now forgotten, where that argument is put forward.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Does it "strike at the vitals of religion" to have a low view of the fourth commandment?
That question was asked in a previous thread, and someone pointed to a new book, whose author and title I've now forgotten, where that argument is put forward.

If we are using that in the "term of art" usage, the specific sense of ordination in certain biblical, reformed presbyterian denominations, anecdotal evidence only-
it tends to get broken down into components of a "low" view- e.g. sabbath recreation being acceptable, but not denying its efficacy toward one's employment, but greatly expanding "necessity" to be "convenience," etc. Very rare to deny it is as moral perpetual law, as the other nine commandments.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
If anything, the sabbath should be viewed as one of the most binding ordinances because it worked into the very creation of the universe. That's why a low view has always puzzled me. That said, I think some Christians suck the very life out of the sabbath by creating lists: you should do this, and you shouldn't do that on Sunday. Keep the check list and everything is cool with God. We need wisdom in sabbath application -- I believe that is why Jesus so challenged the Pharisees in their way of fencing this law. In a fallen world, more becomes a necessity than is ideal. Despite ordering my whole week around keeping the sabbath I have some Sundays when those necessities seem to overwhelm any sense of a holy rest; I have wondered if much of the sabbath rest is yet to come, in the new earth. But to act, think and talk like it is any other day of the week? No way!
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
One of the reasons is because Dispensationalists do not believe the 4th is applicable to Christian's today.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Does it strike anyone else as ironic that we are having this discussion on the Lord's Day? :think:

Not really. Discussion of our Almighty God and things pertaining to Him, such as His law, is not only perfectly acceptable, but also to be encouraged on the Lord's Day in my opinion.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Not covetting and not being content with our lives and God's providences seems much more common than even violations of the 4th Commandment. After all, breaking the sabbath can only happen once a week but being sinfully discontent with our lives and covetting the lives and goods of others is an hourly thing for many.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Jessica
Some people think there is no Sabbath Day for Christians but there is just the Lord's Day.

What they often mean by "the Lord's Day" is "the Lord's Few Hours".

I think because we know that some people who are almost certainly true believers have been misled by dispensational antinomianism (without a big "D" as dispensational antimianism with respect particularly to 4C was around before Darby, although his system has helped in the confusion) on the subject of the Christian Sabbath/Lord's Day we sometimes are not insistent enough that the Reformed view is the only correct one and certain Sabbath activities are sin, whether done by an unbeliever, a misled believer, or a more well taught believer.

Perg
Not covetting and not being content with our lives and God's providences seems much more common than even violations of the 4th Commandment. After all, breaking the sabbath can only happen once a week but being sinfully discontent with our lives and covetting the lives and goods of others is an hourly thing for many.

It seems more subtle - but not necessarily less bad - than a professed believer going to a football match or working on the Lord's Day, but covetousness can be expressed in words and actions and we should deal with it, as with Sabbath-breaking, in ourselves and help our brothers that express it.

To help a brother with Sabbath-breaking we've often got to help them to a new theological view of the Fourth Commandment.

Someone might say, How do we know he's a brother when he's so flagrantly breaking the Fourth Commandment? Well he's a professed brother, and we hope he's genuine, and we want to teach Christian ethics more perfectly to him.

And we might be breaking 4C more flagrantly - in a sense - when we have a sound and clear view of it and yet aren't as careful as we should be in what we do with it.
 
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Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
After all, breaking the sabbath can only happen once a week

Unless we plan our Sabbath-breaking activities ahead of time.

Not covetting and not being content with our lives and God's providences seems much more common than even violations of the 4th Commandment.

I think you are exactly right about that. In reality these sins naturally lead to a breaking of the Sabbath.
 

Reformed Southerner

Puritan Board Freshman
"Money gained on Sabbath-day is a loss, I dare to say. No blessing can come with that which comes to us, on the devil’s back, by our willful disobedience of God’s law. The loss of health by neglect of rest, and the loss of soul by neglect of hearing the gospel, soon turn all seeming profit into real loss." - C.H. Spurgeon

So many even in reformed churches have said the 4th commandment is void. Its a shame.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
"Money gained on Sabbath-day is a loss, I dare to say. No blessing can come with that which comes to us, on the devil’s back, by our willful disobedience of God’s law. The loss of health by neglect of rest, and the loss of soul by neglect of hearing the gospel, soon turn all seeming profit into real loss." - C.H. Spurgeon

Powerful quote from Mr. Spurgeon, thank you!
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Some people view the Sabbath as something that was ceremonial and thus abrogated. Also they take passages like the following to say everyday is the Lords and no day should be considered more than the next since we have entered our rest in Christ.

(Rom 14:5) One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
(Rom 14:6) He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

(Col 2:14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
(Col 2:15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
(Col 2:16) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
(Col 2:17) Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

(Heb 4:1) Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
(Heb 4:2) For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
(Heb 4:3) For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
(Heb 4:4) For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
(Heb 4:5) And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
(Heb 4:6) Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
(Heb 4:7) Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
(Heb 4:8) For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
(Heb 4:9) There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
(Heb 4:10) For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
(Heb 4:11) Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

A few of the misunderstandings pertaining to the Colossians passage and the Hebrews passage are discussed in a blog I posted some time ago. I don't believe most Evangelicals are purposefully trying to dishonor the Lord in their understanding.
http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/some-reformed-baptists-sabbath-concerning-colossians-hebrews-444/
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Just curious, has anyone here read D.A. Carson's book From Sabbath to Lord's Day? I don't know much about it other than someone said the book does not regard the sabbath as a creation ordinance or as binding for Christians.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Scott
only... I think one of the reasons command 4 is rationalized away so readily is because few things more than sabbath and tithing (giving) more regulate the way we live- "our" time and "our" money.

They require faith, discipline and sacrifice- regularly and in the ordinary course of life. They are measurable, and visible, and constant.

The fact that we can rationalize away any of God's commands ought frighten us of our sin, and be all the more cause us to cry out for, and rejoice in the mercy of our God!

Another reason why the Sabbath may be seen as a lesser commandment is because although it has a moral element to it that is written on Man's heart - that he should give time to worshipping his creator formally or more formally - the specific proportion of time , one day in seven, and the specific day, now the first day of the week, is an ordinance of special revelation. This it has in common with tithing.

Some people may not feel they are sinning against their soul in the same way in breaking this commandment - if the proportion of a seventh and the day aren't written on their heart by nature - and find ways to rationalise that they are just ignoring certain Christians' particular interpretation of special revaltion upon which this commmandment depends.

Nevertheless we should be persuaded by the biblical evidence for the Christian Sabbath and to stand by it as a commandment that many even evangelicals think is least.

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.(Matt 5:19)
 
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