From doing your own pleasure on My holy day,
And call the sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And honor it, desisting from your own ways,
From seeking your own pleasure
And speaking your own word,
Then you will take delight in the LORD,
And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken (Isa 58:13-14).
I find it universal amongst Christians - and to be clear, that includes myself - to struggle with honoring the Lord's Day. We often excuse it with seemingly reasonable explanations, such as "I've had a busy week" or "Corporate worship is early" or "The kids are slow in the morning," etc. This can create a tension within us, namely, why would the Lord give us something that seems so difficult?
For that reason, I found Al Martin's obvious explanation of the root of our excuses in "The Lord's Day Sabbath" so convicting and helpful:
When I get up on the Lord’s Day morning, I not only get up as a new creature in Christ, with a new heart, indwelt by the Spirit, the law of God written internally, so that I have an internal motivation to obey the Law in its external revelation. That Law that says “Remember the Sabbath" [Exod 20:8]. And there’s a part of me that says, "I delight in the law of God in my inward part" [Rom 7:22].We struggle with the rest and worship given to us on the Lord's Day, not because it is a hard thing, but because we are hard people. Our excuses amount to manifestations of "the actings of your remaining sin."
But, I have this other principle in me and I begin to have a mind that goes off in the directions of worldly concerns and feels an irritation as to why I have got to be present at Sunday School and Sunday morning and then to… what is that? It is the actings of your remaining sin that would lead you in the direction of ignoring in some degree, despising, disregarding, or even profaning, and carelessly observing the Sabbath.
And you need to recognize that indisposition and deal with it the same way you would if you woke up next Lord’s Day morning, saw your neighbor’s wife and a horrible though of lusting after her flashed across your mind. What would you do with it?! Would you entertain it? I hope not! You would cry-out, “Lord Jesus! Scour my heart of that horrible adulterous thought toward my neighbor’s wife!”
Or, if you suddenly felt an impulse to hop in your car and go to a shopping mall and engage in an half hour of shoplifting and violate the command, “You shall not steal” [Exod 20:15]. What would you do with those thoughts that rise up out of that horrible muck of your remaining sin? I hope you would resist it with all your power.
So, when you get up next Lord’s Day, and you feel an indisposition to honor the Lord on His day, recognize where it comes from and deal with it accordingly in the strength and in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is our sin that would have us believe there are better gifts in the world than in obeying and honoring the Lord on His Day and with His people. It is rooted in the same lie that led Adam and Eve to obey the serpent, and their desires, believing that was better than obeying the Lord. They were wrong and so are we.
And I believe that is a clarification that is so helpful, because we have a great Savior who saves His people from their sin. We have the resources in the Lord to rebuke and fight by faith the lies of sin with the truth of God's Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In commanding a day of rest and worship the Lord is placing upon us an onerous burden, but offering a gift to us as His people. Or as the Puritans described it, "the market day of the soul"!