Thursday, April 7, 2022

Sanctifying or Profaning the Sabbath

Q. 61: What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
Answer: The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

Q. 62: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
Answer: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God's allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath day. (WSC)

The fourth commandment tells us to observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy. We do this by resting from our normal activities and by using the time for the worship of God, as well as for deeds of mercy and necessity. 

Accordingly, the commandment forbids us from omitting these duties or carelessly performing them. To show contempt for God’s worship is to show contempt for him (Malachi 1:6-7, 13-14). Even though the day is a day of rest, yet this rest should not be taken to the excess of idleness, such that we neglect what should be done on the day. 

The day is also profaned by unnecessary and distracting thoughts, words, or works, as well as by sin, which should be avoided every day. Examine your thoughts, words, and works on the sabbath day and consider whether they are fitting for the day. Do they aid piety, show mercy, or meet necessities that cannot be delayed? Isaiah 58:13 tells us that the sabbath day is honored when you do not go your own way, or seek your own pleasure, or talk idly. Pleasure itself is not forbidden, but we are directed to take pleasure in the observance of the day, calling the Sabbath "a delight." 

God gives several arguments to support this command. This command is reasonable, for he gives us six days for our own callings, for our “worldly employments and recreations.” This command is just, for the day is his day, “the sabbath of the Lord thy God.” To put it to common use is to steal from God. This command is also supported by God’s own example, for he rested one day in seven when he made the world. Furthermore, this command is for our own good, for God blessed the sabbath day, so that we are blessed in the observance of it. Not only is God glorified, but we are refreshed and edified by this holy rest and by the means of grace in the fellowship of the saints.

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