The end of law (law series part 1)

end of lawEnd of law for righteousness

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.

Most protestant christians don’t believe they are saved by works. In other words, they don’t believe that keeping the law will ever make them righteous. And yet, many would say of this verse: “well it only says the end of the law for righteousness”,  implying that we do need the law as a standard to produce correct behaviour in a christian’s life.

Hebrews 7:19: For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Well, this verse clearly says that the law made nothing perfect, so why do we think its going to bring perfection or holiness once the believer has experienced salvation? I mean, are we saying that although the law isn’t capable of producing righteousness before were saved, somehow it is capable of producing and maintaining righteousness after we are saved? Go figure!

We need the law to point out sin?

Anyway, some might say: “we need the law to point out sin”. Now, they are right in identifying the strength of law, its expertise: forensically pointing out sin. Indeed, nothing escapes its perfection, skill and legal prowess.

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Does that mean then, that pastors and preachers should preach law every Sunday to convict their congregations and keep them in line? Well yes, if their congregations are unsaved because the law is designed by God for just such people. The law is tailor-made for the unrighteous:

1 Timothy 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers

Therefore, if you are preaching the law from the pulpit at believers then you are preaching the wrong covenant and preaching death! In fact, you are putting your congregation under a curse. (Gal 3:10).

Not under law

For the believer however, NO! The law’s task is complete. Law was designed by God to lead us to Christ by demolishing our self-righteousness and showing us we need his righteousness.

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

So, once we have been brought to Christ, the law’s schooling and discipline is over. We have graduated from law school, we are now in the school of faith and of the spirit.

the lawCome on! It’s time to take off the trainer wheels and get pedalling!

In Romans 7, Paul illustrates the legal basis by which this marriage to law is terminated. He shows, that we are delivered from the tyranny of law by death – our death in Christ. Therefore, even though the law is not dead, we are dead to the law!

This means three things:

We are not under law but under grace

Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

We are delivered from law

Romans 7:6 “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

We are dead to the law

Romans 7:4 “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

Galatians 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

How did we die to its demands? Through the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

The law and all of it’s demands therefore, was removed and nailed to the cross of Jesus:

Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”

Jesus completed the law

Jesus though, was the only human being qualified to do this because he came under law (Galatians 4:4) and perfectly fulfilled it by living a perfect life. When he died at the cross, he completed every requirement of the law and not only that, every shadow and type and detail of the law that alluded to him.

Matt 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Ah, some will say, Jesus said that as long as heaven and earth exist the law applies.  So, it must apply to us today? Please read carefully! Jesus said that he didn’t come to destroy the law but to fulfill or complete. So, at the point Jesus was speaking (before the cross), the law hadn’t as yet been fulfilled or completed. However at the cross it was perfectly fulfilled.

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

At the cross then, there was a change of covenant and a change of priesthood. Jesus is now the high priest of our confession. We are under a new covenant and so indeed, there has been a change of law.

Dead to the ten commandments

Now of course, some legalistic believers wriggle here and divide the law up into three parts: the ceremonial law,  the judicial law and the moral law and claim that only the first two parts have been done away with and that the moral law or ten commandments still apply.

Firstly,  there are no grounds in scripture to dissect the law in such a way, as the law is always viewed as one complete whole and system of 613 commandments.

For example James 2:10 says:

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the lawSo speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.”

Secondly, Paul blows this theory wide open in 2 Corinthians 3 because he refers to the centre-piece of the law: the Ten Commandments (clearly referred to as the ministration of death engraven in stones) –  as done away!

2 Cor 3:7  But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

And again:

2 Cor 3:11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

And yet again further down, he makes clear the ten-commandments have been abolished.

In Colossians 2, as we have referred to earlier, Paul shows that the whole law including the ten commandments is blotted out:

Col 2:13 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Further down, Paul gives details of this freedom from the law and all its various ordinances:

Col 2:15 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:”

If you still not convinced, Paul says it a different way in Ephesians 2:14-15:

“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”

So what separated Jew and Gentile? It was the law. Gentiles were never under the law even though they “instinctively do the things of the law”  (Romans 2:14) . However the cross has removed that difference and both jew and gentile are made righteous by faith apart from law.

Conclusions

In conclusion, therefore the believer in Christ  is not under any part of the law.

We are not children of Moses but the children of Abraham. Abraham the man of faith was never under law!

Of course, does this mean, that a believer is lawless, that we are spiritual anarchists? Of course not but we will discuss this later on in the series.

Why not sign for email updates and ensure you get the next post of the law series part 2 Jesus and the law

Further articles:

Living by law or grace – prophecy

The law our school master

The shadow of the law

613 jewish commands

 

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