Many Seventh-day Adventist are waiting for a grand test on the day of the week in which God is to be worshiped. Sadly, many of those who are waiting for that time, unknown to them, are preparing themselves to receive the mark of the beast. The Sabbath test is not simply about which day of the week we go to church, it is about something entirely different. It is about who is living our life – us or God.
In Ezekiel 20:12 the Lord says that He gave us His Sabbaths “to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” The word sanctify is often read in the sense that we are purified and cleansed from sin, that the Sabbath is a sign that God is making us holy. But while it is true that God wants to cleanse us from sin, it is also a truth that through the sacrifice of His Son, He ALREADY HAS cleansed us from sin. What the word sanctify really means is to “set apart for a holy use”. God wants to use us, even as He used His Son, Jesus Christ.
When Christ came to this earth, He exposed the fact that He did not live His own life. In John 5:30 He says, “I can of my own self do nothing.” And again in John 8:38, “I do nothing of myself.” When Philip asked Him to show him and his brethren the Father, Christ replied, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” (John 14:9-10.)
It was the life and character of the Father in heaven that is displayed in the life of Christ. He sent His Son to take upon Himself our own hopeless condition and to be an example for us how it is that the very holiness of God Himself can become evident in our own lives. In Philippians 2:13 it says that it is God who works in us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Jesus said that He always does the things that please His Father (John 8:29) How? Because He let God work in Him to will and to do of His good pleasure. Just as in the life of His Son, God wants to live His life in us.
“All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” it says in Isaiah 64:6. This is referring to all our right works – they are unprofitable and useless. We cannot of ourselves do any good, for the Scriptures declare that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one”! (Romans 3:10) Only God is good, as Jesus said to the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:17), and only as we LET God do the works in our lives will there ever be any good works in our lives. Some may argue that when they are a converted person they can do good, or that if their heart is motivated by love they can do good. And others think that if God gives them the strength to do it then their works will be acceptable. But all this is incorrect, for the one thing that the law requires is the perfect obedience of God Himself in our own lives. This is what Christ came to demonstrate, for He was as a converted man and His heart was motivated by love, yet He became obedient unto His own Father’s workings through Him, even to the death of the cross for our salvation.
Ezekiel refers to the time when God first referred to the Sabbath as the sign of letting God perform all the works in the life. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.” (Exodus 31:12-14.)>
If our own good works are as filthy rags, we will defile the Sabbath by doing our own works on that day. We must have right-works by faith for “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Roman’s 14:23). The faith of Jesus brought into His life the perfect works of His Father. We must have the same faith.
The Sabbath is a sign that we have let go of our old lives and are now permitting God to live His own life through us. It is a sign that we have been sanctified, or, set apart for a holy use. If it is God performing all the works in our lives, all our works will be holy, without sin.
In Isaiah 58:13 it tells us that this is exactly what the Sabbath is about. “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 58:13-14.)
Notice what keeping the Sabbath really is. Not “doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” Simply put, not living thine own life. Apostle Paul expresses this experience another way in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The Sabbath is a sign that through the faith of Jesus, God is now using my life for holy works.
In the last part of Hebrews chapter three and then into Hebrews chapter four, Apostle Paul talks about the true rest that was offered to Israel. He presents the rest and peace found through the experience of right-doing by the faith of Jesus (righteousness by faith) in the context of the Sabbath. The Gospel of Christ’s righteousness was preached to them, but they did not receive the experience of it because they did not believe it. What did they not believe? That through His Son, God was offering them an entirely new life filled with His own right-doings. In their blindness, they thought that their own works were acceptable and when God promised that He would make them a holy nation, they took it upon themselves to perform it. Or as Romans 10:3 may be paraphrased, “For they being ignorant of God’s right-doing, and going about to establish their own right-doing, have not submitted themselves unto the right-doing of God.”
Observe one final text. Hebrews 4:10: “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” Had the Israelites accepted God’s promise to live a holy life through them, they would have kept the Sabbath as described in Isaiah 58:13. It is only natural for those who have received the new life in Christ to rest from their own works on the Sabbath, because God is resting from His, and He is living His life in them.
In six days God created the heavens and the the earth and on on the seventh day He rested. On the seventh day God ceased working in the same manner as He did on the six previous days. But did He cease work altogether on the seventh day? No. Life must be sustained. He continues to quicken and uphold every living thing. The sun continues to shine and the streams continue to flow; the wheat and the corn, the flowers and the trees all continue to grow. God does not cease from providing the things necessary to sustain life and make it desirable. And so it is “lawful to do good on on the Sabbath” (Mark 3:4). Like in Christ’s own life, the sick must be cared for and their suffering relieved so far as possible. But especially is the Sabbath a day of communion with God and glorifying Him by sharing with others what His wonderful love has done for us.
All those who receive the the seal of the living God in their foreheads testify to the fact that they are no longer living their own lives – it is God living His life in them. Those who go to church on the seventh-day but have not fully surrendered their lives to God will receive the mark of the beast because the test is not about the day, but about the life – the day is only a sign that we have given our hearts fully to Jesus. There is no such thing as a “one day a week Christian”. A day when I am not speaking my own words or doing my own works cannot be my experience unless it has become my habit to “let go and let God”, and it is my experience every other other day in the week.
Unfortunately, it seems that very few Seventh-day Adventists are aware that this is the real issue of the Sabbath. They are living their own lives and doing their own things, and keeping the Sabbath by their own works. They are waiting for a test that will never come because the test is daily. And when the ultimate test does come, it will be so subtle that only those who are being led by the Lord today will recognize it for what it is. If it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived (Matthew 24:24).
Friends, accept today the new life in Christ. Learn today that all your own best good works are useless and that it must be God doing all the works in your life. Please, before it is too late, and you receive the stamp of Satan’s approval.