Summary: The Sabbath is the most misunderstood of the 10 commandments. To understand this command and all commandments, it must be viewed through the cross of Christ.
The Ten Commandments from a New Testament Perspective
Most of us have heard the Ten Commandments:
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
5. Honor thy Father and Mother.
6. Thou shalt not murder.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10. Thou shalt not covet.
In our modern world, these ten short phrases have created much controversy as the culture has distanced itself from God and any association with Him. Of course there are more than Ten Commandments God has given us through His word, but these ten laws are given to the culture. God promised Israel that if the nation kept these simple instructions, He would bless their nation. God took all the laws that were given and would be given and condensed them into easy to understand phrases that each person could comprehend and therefore evaluate their actions within these laws. God has also blessed every nation that has made these laws the foundation of their government and I believe will continue to do so. Unfortunately our nation has broken ranks with these governing laws and now seeks to bar their view from any public display within their control.
In our New Testament age, the real application of these commands belongs to the church. Sometimes Christians get confused when they remove the New Testament foundation from their understanding of these commandments and try to put themselves under the Old Testament law. The cross of Jesus Christ is the lens by which everything in the scripture must be viewed. We cannot go back and try to put our lives under the Old Testament law, but we must submit ourselves to the New Testament commandments that are applied through the law of faith. Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the law but to fulfill the law and then offer Himself as a redemptive sacrifice for us. This is affirmed and explained in Romans 3:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
This passage provides a lot of information to digest. While we were in our sins, God had to remain just. Justice demands judgment against violations of the law; therefore, through the cross, God remained just and also became our justifier through faith in Jesus. Without violating justice, you and I were justified or declared to be just even though we violated the law of sin. We are declared just because Jesus kept the law yet paid the penalty of being a violator of the law and by faith, we receive the justification by receiving His righteousness as He has received credit for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). So you can see that the law was not done away with, but fulfilled in Christ. By the law of faith, we receive the justification of Christ as we put our trust in His sacrifice of offering Himself up for our violations of the law.
The law has not been done away with; it has just been established in faith. Even though mankind could not fulfill the law because all have fallen short, all people can be justified by the law through faith in Christ. So even though the law has not changed, how the law is fulfilled has changed as justice passed through the cross of Jesus Christ. We now remain in the justification of the law through our fellowship with Jesus Christ. The Bible states that if we abide in the light of Jesus Christ, we have forgiveness of all sin, but if we walk in rebellion to Christ, we are not walking in righteousness but instead we are lying to ourselves and are violators of the law (1 John 1:16-17, Galatians 2:18).