Viewpoint: Properly Observe Sabbath to Keep “Unspotted from the World”

Contributed By the Church News

  • 3 January 2016

This year, as apostles and prophets have renewed the emphasis on keeping the Sabbath Day holy, may we heed their counsel and admonition, thereby more perfectly keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world.”

Article Highlights

  • Proper Sabbath observance keeps us unspotted from the world.

An oft-quoted passage from the Book of James identifies two important characteristics of “pure religion”:

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

When this verse is cited, it seems the portion that gets the most frequent attention is the part about serving and blessing the fatherless and widows; the other half of James’s admonition, to keep oneself “unspotted from the world” perhaps is not as often emphasized.

Serving the needy and maintaining one’s personal purity—in the eyes of God, these things are indispensable.

This might raise the question: How are we to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world”? As if in response, the Lord has said in latter-day revelation:

“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;

“For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;

“Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;

“But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord” (D&C 59:9-12).

In a recent family home evening lesson, a father posed the question: How does proper Sabbath day observance, in particular attending our Sunday worship services, help us to remain pure and “unspotted from the world”?

The family concluded there are at least half a dozen ways in which this is accomplished.

The 10-year-old daughter immediately spoke up, saying, “We take the sacrament and renew the promises we made when we were baptized.”

Through the partaking of the bread and water—the primary purpose for which we assemble together on the Lord’s day—we symbolically remember the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior. We thus renew the sacred covenants we have made with the Lord. When done in the proper spirit, this can be a powerful motivating influence on our behavior throughout the week, helping us to remain pure.

The 13-year-old son suggested that the things we hear, do and say during our Sabbath day worship services give us strength and protection to fend off the temptations we might encounter from Satan, what the scriptures refer to as “the fiery darts of the adversary” (see 1 Nephi 15:24; D&C 3:8).

Not only does the wicked one entice us to commit wrongdoing, but it seems that in our day in particular, Satan, the father of lies, is busily engaged in deceiving the inhabitants of the earth, trying to make good appear evil and evil seem good (see Isaiah 5:20). He makes some people especially vulnerable to his influence by convincing them that he does not exist, this in fulfillment of what Nephi prophesied, that in latter days, he “telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from which there is no deliverance” (2 Nephi 28:22).

Our Sabbath observance is for us a bulwark against Satan and his minions.

During the home evening lesson, the 15-year-old son pointed out that when we go to the “house of prayer” on the Sabbath, we are spiritually fed and nourished, and this promotes and preserves our personal purity.

“Teaching that is nourishing to the soul uplifts others, builds their faith, and gives them confidence to meet life’s challenges. It motivates them to forsake sin and to come to Christ, call on His name, obey His commandments, and abide in His love” (Teaching, No Greater Call, Lesson 2).

The mother in the family noted during the home evening lesson that Sabbath day observance promotes and encourages service to God and His children. Fulfilling callings in the Church, teaching and giving talks, participating with comments during lessons, singing, praying with others, testifying of gospel truths, and generally helping in the organization and administration of the Church on a local level are all rendering service to our Heavenly Father and bless our brothers and sisters, thereby promoting personal purity.

Moreover, assembling together on the Sabbath puts us in direct association with others and makes us aware of their needs and how we might help them. In a number of ways, it facilitates our service to them. In this, we emulate the loving ministry of the Master. In Charles Dickens’s beloved tale A Christmas Carol, Bob Cratchit reports to his wife that their little lame son, Tim, had commented to him that he hoped the people at church saw him because “it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.”

The father during the home evening lesson spoke of the origin and symbolism of the Sabbath, that it reminds us that the Lord God, having created the earth, rested from His labors on the seventh day. This causes us to ponder His glory and goodness in creating this world and giving us the plan of salvation for the purpose of bringing to pass our immortality and eternal life (see Moses 1:39). Remembering these things helps us remain pure.

Finally, all in the family agreed that Sabbath observance is physically, mentally, and spiritually rejuvenating, as it affords a time to rest from the strenuous physical and mental exertions of the workaday world and allows us to focus more fully on things of the Spirit.

This year, as apostles and prophets have renewed the emphasis on keeping the Sabbath Day holy, may we heed their counsel and admonition, thereby more perfectly keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world.”