The next stop was the book of Galatians where Paul again makes reference to the Sabbath in his scathing rebuke of the Judaizing heresy that had threatened the Galatian church. Here Paul explains the purpose of the Law to these Gentile believers. To get the feel of the argument he is using, we must start back in Galatians.

Galatians 3:16–17 (KJV) Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

What Paul is saying is that the covenant with Abraham was given pre-Law. And it was made with Christ in mind. Let’s continue with verse 18.

Galatians 3:18–19 (KJV) For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Paul is saying that the Law was added well after the promises to Abraham, until Christ. There was a definite beginning and ending of the Law. This is crucial to understand in order to follow Paul’s argument.

Now notice verses 23 and following:

Galatians 3:23–25 (KJV) But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Paul continues with his discussion, ending Galatians 3 with the famous statement in verse 29.

Galatians 3:29 (KJV) And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

What Paul is saying here is that the promise of Christ came before the Law. It is independent of the Law. The Law was added to show us our need of Christ. It was our tutor to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Clearly Paul is pointing out that the Law was a temporary institution to show us our need of Christ. But when we accept Jesus, we are under the covenant, which was pre-circumcision and preLaw, the covenant with Abraham. The Christian now stands with righteous Abraham, an heir of the promise, bypassing the entire Law era! I had never seen the significance of this passage before! I had to read and re-read it. I encourage you to sit down with the book of Galatians to read and digest it for yourself. The message is so powerful and liberating! It also sets the stage for understanding the rest of the book.

In Galatians 4 Paul continues his argument by discussing the absurdity of going back to the “weak and beggarly elements” which contextually are a clear reference to going back to Lawbased living. Continuing on, we read,

Galatians 4:8–11 (KJV) Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

I could hardly believe my eyes as I read these verses. I had read it many times before, but never understood it. This time the words seemed to jump off the page at me, much like the “Magic Eye” hidden pictures I mentioned earlier. Could Paul have been any clearer? Knowing the pattern for religious holidays in the Old Testament, it suddenly clarified for me what was at issue here. The Judaizers had been teaching these new Christians that they should keep the Sabbaths and the rest of the feasts as part of their commitment to Christ. The days, months, seasons, and years follow the same pattern of the Jewish holiday system, including the seventh-day Sabbath. The Judaizers were telling the Galatians that they must keep the Sabbath and the other feasts. But Paul is clearly saying that observing these holidays is not required of Gentile Christians. He sees that doing so could be dangerous to their maturity as Christians. He is saying that these things do not have value because the Law was a temporary institution. Christians are accepted on the basis of Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law and treated as preLaw Abrahamic descendants! The message of Galatians seemed to literally come to life for me. Those hard to understand passages suddenly made perfect sense!

I must take a moment to dwell on the importance of the book of Galatians. The book was written for the purpose of making a clear delineation between what was to be classified as Old Covenant and what was to be included in the New. The book of Galatians has one basic theme from beginning to end, and that is to clarify what the Gospel really is. Paul clearly defines for these new Christians what is genuine good news and what is a perversion. To make his point absolutely clear, he states his own credentials in no uncertain terms. In Galatians 1:1 he declares his apostleship, the highest office in the church. He is careful to remind his readers that he was not appointed by men but by Jesus Christ himself.

Secondly, he states that he got his message directly by revelation from Jesus Himself. There were no other humans involved in the delivery of the message.

Thirdly, in Galatians 2:6-21 he reminds the Galatians that the apostles in Jerusalem put their stamp of approval on the soundness of his doctrinal position. And finally, He had the authority to take the Apostle Peter to task when he succumbed to pressure from the Jewish Christians. Paul publicly rebuked the influential apostle for withdrawing from the Gentiles in table fellowship. Paul’s message is therefore absolutely above question or debate. He is writing this Epistle to settle once and for all the issue of what constitutes the true and authentic Gospel. This places the letter to the Galatians first and foremost in authority in issues of Law versus Grace.

Paul even states in Galatians 1:8-9 that if an angel from heaven tells you something else, let him be eternally condemned. Angelic messages must be tested by this Epistle! One cannot just believe any angel! Now let us focus on what was revealed to him about the Law. Paul points out that it was a temporary institution that was “added” 430 years after Abraham and was in effect “until” the Christ would come. He is absolutely clear that circumcision, the food laws, 1 and the Sabbath laws were specifically included in that which was no longer in effect. He uses the same construction found in Colossians 2, making it crystal clear that the seventh-day Sabbath was also temporary. At this point I realized that the issue of the Old Covenant food laws was intertwined with the Sabbath regulations. I will not take significant time to discuss this in this book. I will, however, mention a few scriptural references that are important to notice in this regard.

First of all, the Gospel of Mark records the discussion of Jesus and the Pharisees over the issue of eating with unwashed hands. The discussion moves on to what truly matters as far as what clean and unclean meant to Jesus. In Mark 7 we read:

Mark 7:14–23 (KJV)14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

(In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on:

20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

This issue of table fellowship with gentiles was the result of what the Old Covenant law said about certain foods. The Levitical code (Leviticus 11) forbids the use of “unclean foods.” For a Jew to eat with a person who ate such forbidden foods was to become unclean himself. Some of the Jewish Christians believed that these laws were still binding, and Peter was influenced by them to withdraw from the Gentiles to avoid criticism.

Mark’s comment here was written many years later from the perspective of the New Covenant understanding of the apostles. He clearly understood Jesus to be making an end to the food laws. Acts 10-11 records the story of Peter and the vision of the unclean animals that he was told to kill and eat. The primary application of this vision was to make it clear to Peter that he was to call no man common or unclean any more. But behind the vision is another truth. What was it that made the Gentiles unclean? It was what they ate. It was the food laws behind the scenes that made the Gentiles unclean to the observant Jews. The point is once again made that the food laws were not considered binding by the apostles. In First Timothy 4 the Holy Spirit warns against heresies that teach abstinence from certain foods:

1 Timothy 4:1–5 (KJV) Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Here a warning is attached to making an issue of food laws. These were understood by the apostles to be dividing issues between believers that must not be tolerated.

2 Paul warns that one of the last day deceptions will be the reintroduction of the food laws as a requirement for Christians. He declares that such teachings are the doctrines of demons. Those are hard words, but must be noted because of the seriousness of the warning.

3 The Epistle to the Galatians and the Epistle to the Colossians are in perfect agreement with the rest of the New Testament on this issue. There is much instruction in Galatians about moral living. While the Sabbath laws and food laws are not binding, it must not be seen as an indication that Paul is condoning immorality. He is actually calling the true Christian to a higher morality, the morality of the Spirit. He appeals to the Spirit and not to the Law. He points to Christ, not the Law, as a point of reference. The appeal is never to the Law in Galatians, or in any of Paul’s writings for that matter. He includes the Sabbath with those things that are no longer binding, and possibly dangerous, if made a requirement for salvation. Paul clearly teaches responsible morality and I will go into that later, but his appeal is to Christ living in you, not to Law.

Galatians 5:16–18 (KJV) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Galatians 5:19–23 (KJV) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

This is another example of Adventists ignoring the New Covenant Scriptures in favor of the Old. Interestingly, even in the Old Testament, the Gentiles were never asked to abide by these clean/unclean laws. Notice the command to Noah upon his exit from the ark in Genesis 9:3. It made all living creatures good for food. The specific laws to Israel were temporary and for the people of Israel only.

3 Many people in the SDA church are not aware that Ellen G. White for a time forbade marriage. While she did not tell people that they could not have a mate, she did forbid marriage relations for those that were missionaries because the resulting children would be a hindrance to the work. This was a cause of guilt and frustration among the missionaries. The details are found in Document DF 97c in the White Estate vault.