Jesus' NT teaching is crystal clear; love, not legalism, is the way to His heart and the freedom that is ours in Christ.

Love, not legalism, is the way to Jesus’ heart

I’m a rule follower, pure and simple. Like every imperfect human, I step outside of the lines, but my temporary disobedience dissipates in the face of fear that I might get caught, or worse, punished. While this mentality is okay in general, it is contrary to Jesus’ instruction for obedience to God’s laws.


Growing up in a small-town Baptist church, everything I learned about God scared me. I pictured a wise-old man with a long grey beard and stern face always watching and ready to pounce when I couldn’t resist doing a “do-not-do.” Instead of seeking a personal relationship with Jesus, my faith-walk existed of a never-ending, nerve-racking game of Step on the crack; you’ll break your mother’s back.

While I’ve grown beyond the childish games, my thinking still sometimes veers off the course of Truth. But God is faithful in His promise to show us the right way to go. (Psl 32:8) While reading today’s lesson from, The Answers to Your Deepest Longings, an Online Bibles Study with P31 Ministries, He showed me something new and exciting that I’ve never seen before.

The command to “Remember to keep the Sabbath Holy” falls in an uncomfortable gray area for me. Instead of setting aside a whole day to worship God, I choose to begin every day with Him and His Word. Sometimes, when Sunday rolls around and I decide to do a simple household chore or spend time writing, a sense of guilt washes over me. Then a subconscious narrative takes place in my head where I try to justify my actions; it’s an uncomfortable battle of the mind that I rarely win.

God’s Word illuminates Truth

But this morning, the Lord led me to a verse that left me slack-jawed:
“Therefore 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.” (Col 2:16 ESV)

I’ve read this verse before, but I somehow missed Paul’s point: trading our freedom in Christ for human-made legalistic rules is useless because legalism does not have the power to save or restrain sin. (cf Gal 5:1)

I dig deeper into Jesus’ NT teachings and unearth 6 reasons why Christians are not required to keep the Sabbath Command:

  1. The Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic covenant, but we are under the New Covenant (2 Cor 3; Heb 8)
  2. there is no NT command to keep the Sabbath;
  3. the first command to keep the Sabbath was not until the time of Moses (Ex. 20:8);
  4. the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) did not order Gentile believers to keep the Sabbath;
  5. Paul never cautioned Christians about breaking the Sabbath; and
  6. the NT explicitly teaches that Sabbath-keeping was not a requirement (Rom. 14:5; Gal. 4:10, 11; Col. 2:16, 17 )

Jesus’ message is crystal clear: Legalism and love cannot coexist. Like guardrails on a curvy mountain road, God provides boundaries not to rule over us, but to protect us.

Tears fill my eyes as the image of our loving Heavenly Father supersedes the cold, make-believe God that so many of us turn away from out of fear. God’s Word shed’s light on the lies we believe and sets us free from burdens He never meant for us to carry.

Sending peace, love, and prayers to all!


Kelly Kirby Worley
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