Countering Structural Lie #4: What Does 'Keeping the Sabbath' Mean?
Updated: Feb 19
God wants to uncover wrong beliefs, structural lies, which will compromise the integrity of our spiritual house. These lies must be identified, repaired through repentance, and replaced with truth. This is the fifth post in a series on UNCOVERING THE TOP TEN STRUCTURAL LIES.
God rested from His work of creation on the seventh day.
Was God tired?
The fourth commandment, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” (Exodus 20:8) has its roots in the creation story. God Himself set the precedent of rest from His labor “in the beginning,” long before the Ten Commandments were given to Moses.
This is significant. We need to pay attention.
The God who never sleeps doesn’t grow weary, so why did He take a day off?
When I was the young mother of a two-year-old and newborn, I remember in vivid detail the overwhelming exhaustion. Feedings ran together. Night and day reversed. A knock at the front door one morning caught me still in my pajamas. Stuff was strewn from one end of the living room to another. Panic might have hit, but I was too tired. Probably the Jehovah Witnesses.
Baby in arms, I cracked the door. A lady I’d never met stood there holding out a casserole dish.
“I’m your neighbor,” she said. “And I thought you might like this.”
My dulled mind whirled. Inviting this kind stranger into my messy home felt unfathomable. I juggled the baby from one arm to the other, but I couldn’t figure out how to take the dish from her. So…
I cried, right there in the doorway.
Poor lady. She uttered a few kind words, set the dish inside the doorway, and beat a hasty retreat. I think she moved and I still have her casserole dish.
Moments of Overwhelm are Real
His grace covers us even on our worst days.
God’s intent with this fourth commandment is to help us manage the load He asks us to carry. Not with a mandated and legalistic day of rest, but by being a burden-carrying God who provides constant rest for our souls.
Our daily challenges are less stressful when our hearts and minds are at peace.
Never is the spiritual fulfillment of this commandment more needed than in our present day. Perhaps every generation feels they corner the market on fear, stress, turmoil, chaos, and strife, but truly our day is evil, with the works of ungodliness consuming our news feeds, airwaves, and seeping into our hearts at every turn.
In spirit and truth, the Sabbath is not just a day, but the heart’s position of restful, moment-to-moment abiding in Jesus.
Jesus said, “For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” Matthew 12:8 NLT
Yes, technically the Sabbath is a day, but spiritually, it is much more than a 24-hour period. God designed our physical bodies with rhythms of wakefulness and sleep. We need sleep daily, a breather from our daily work weekly, and diversion from the relentless demands of life periodically. Our mind, body, and emotions need a break.
True Rest is Found in Jesus
In Christ, God has made provision for genuine rest.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest...” Hebrews 4:9-11
God created all things in six days, the Bible tells us, and He pronounced each aspect of His creation “good.” Then God rested on the seventh day.
God set a profound precedent for humankind in observing a Sabbath rest. Why?
True rest is designed to be holy.
True spiritual rest honors the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We cease from our labor to savor the wonder, recognizing and adoring the sheer magnitude of His glory, majesty, splendor, and omnipotent goodness. To stop striving and simply acknowledge God’s grace, provision, love, mercy, and intimate friendship is holy.
So what structural lie are we believing about this fourth commandment to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy? The lie is two-fold:
Structural Lie #4:
I keep the Sabbath by attending church.
I can experience true rest apart from intimacy with Jesus.
Attending a church service in rote adherence to a set of religious standards couldn’t be further from the point. God looks at our hearts and cares about WHY we go and WHO we go to worship and serve.
Connecting with a body of believers is an important aspect of our faith, but it can’t replace a heart connection and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Sabbath rest also isn’t about taking a nap on Sunday afternoons, though that is lovely.
Holy Rest is a Gift from God
Salvation is a gift from God…and so is holy rest.
Legalistic adherence to a Sabbath rest is not God’s intent for the fourth commandment. As with all the Ten Commandments, the spiritual application goes deeper and higher. God wants to carry our burdens. He desires for us to cease from our own labor (dead works), and to accept his light yoke…a burden exchange.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus promises rest. Moment-to-moment rest. Rest in serving and learning from Him. Rest for our souls. Peaceful rest, free from guilt and shame. Better rest, celebrating His holiness. True rest isn’t found in “doing,” but in “being” – with the lover of our souls in that intimate, sacred place of communion and surrender.
Replace the lie with truth:
I find holy rest only in Jesus.
To read the STRUCTURAL LIES series: first post, “Inspect Your Life for Structural Lies,” click here. For the second post, “Uncovering Structural Lie #1 and Replacing it with God’s Truth,” click here, the third, “Digging Up Structural Lie #2 and Worshiping God in Spirit and Truth,” click here. For the fourth post, “Structural Lie #3: Recognizing the Creative Power of Our Words,” click here.
SIGN UP BELOW: If you would like to follow this series on "Uncovering the Top Ten Structural Lies” that threaten our spiritual house, scroll below and sign up. Over the next month, I plan to release posts covering the remaining structural lies. When I finish, all our subscribers will receive a printable chart of the ten structural lies, with the corresponding Commandment, and the Truth which replaces the lie.