NT Tuesday: Festivals & Holidays

Legalism Rules Road SignTherefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. – Colossians 2:16-17 ESV

As I was writing last week’s post on secular vs. sacred, I was also considering the idea of “keeping the Sabbath.” In the location where I was preaching, there was a heavy influence on people’s thinking from those who profess to know Christ but require that you “keep the Sabbath” and specifically keep Saturday as a Sabbath. I am not sure how such things develop such a following, especially when the Word of God seems to me to be so clear on such issues.

Before Paul warned the saints in Colossae what to ignore, he described our new life in Christ. He wrote that we should walk (continue in our relationship with Him) in the same way we received Him – by faith – not by works, deeds, etc. He also reminds us that we were buried with Christ in baptism and we are risen with Him as well. Elsewhere we are told that we now “walk in newness of life.”

Continued…

Since our life is that new, that different, than our previous life, then the attributes and characteristics should be dramatically different than our previous life. Nowhere will we find Jesus Christ drawing us to a relationship based on works or deeds or religious activity. In fact, the exact opposite is true (there is one exception – remembering Him as He asked us to). So, if the Lord does not teach us to be “religious” by following certain traditions, keeping certain festivals, abstaining from certain foods, then these things must come from man! And, anything that comes from man (rather than God) is legalism and is burdensome.

Furthermore, all of these “religious” things are shadows, but the substance is Christ. Why would we be “devoted” to shadows when the Substance is now here? Weren’t the shadows temporary signs designed to help us recognize the Messiah when He came? YES!

As we think about some of these traditions – Catholics were at one time forbidden from eating meat on Fridays, some people forgo things during Lent, certain days – Sabbaths, etc are “kept”, etc., even celebrating Advent, and other such church calendar times, are ALL man’s ideas. I don’t think anyone could find a shred of biblical evidence for such things. In fact, Colossians 2:16-17 are verses that provide sound biblical evidence for NOT following such things – or rather – for not requiring the following of such things. If these verses were to be taken literally, I suppose it was to mean that I shouldn’t judge someone if he wants to keep a “holy day” or holiday, but he/she certainly is not able to judge others who don’t or won’t keep the same day. The same is true about what we eat or don’t eat!

Next week, we are going to focus more closely on “keeping the Sabbath” and what obligations Christians have as it pertains to that. Until then, fulfill your ministry and be fully pleasing to God.

 

2 comments

  1. I’ve read this article several times, and I’m still not quite sure what you’re getting at with these sentences:

    Nowhere will we find Jesus Christ drawing us to a relationship based on works or deeds or religious activity. In fact, the exact opposite is true (there is one exception – remembering Him as He asked us to).

    Are you meaning to suggest Jesus Christ is “drawing us to a relationship based on… remembering Him as He asked us to”? That seems to me to be the upshot of those two sentences. If I’m reading that the way you intended it, what do you mean by that?

  2. Mike Stoudt

    Thanks for asking. What I was trying to say and didn’t say it very artfully, is that Jesus Christ has not used “religious” rituals to draw us into a closer relationship with Him. That rituals, in today’s dispensation, are not what they used to be, that they have been replaced by substance. I meant that the Lord’s Supper was an exception to that in that it, in it’s purest sense, is a ritual that does draw us into a closer relationship with Him. I hope this is a better way of explaining what was on my mind. Thank you for reading it so carefully and for caring enough to ask.