How and to whom is Christ the End of the law?
"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Romans 10:4
Knowing something of the just severity and strict demands of God’s holy law, -- Knowing that the law demands, “The soul that sinneth it shall die,” -- Knowing that the law demands, “It must be perfect to be accepted,” --Knowing the utter terror of the law, -- When I read this great and glorious statement, “Christ is the end of the law,” I immediately want to know, -- How and to whom? Don’t you?
How is Christ the end of the law? What does Paul mean when he says that Christ is the end of the law? There are five obvious and clear answers to that question.
1. Paul means for us to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is the end of the law’s purpose. He is the purpose and object of the law. The law was given to lead us to Christ. The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Once it has served that purpose, it has no other function (Gal. 3:24-25). The law is the sheriff’s deputy who shuts men up in prison for their sin, concluding them all under condemnation, so that they may look to the free grace of God in Christ for deliverance. This is the purpose of the law. It empties, that grace may fill. It wounds, that grace may heal. The law was given to lead sinners to faith in Christ, by showing them the impossibility of salvation in any other way. As Spurgeon once put it: “The law is God’s black dog, by which he fetches his sheep to the Shepherd.
How does the law perform its work? How does the law bring men to Christ? The law exposes our sin (Rom. 7:7-9). The law shows us what the result of our sin must be: Separation from God and Death. -- “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:20). The only way any man can obtain mercy from God is to approach him with a bloody sacrifice, the blood sacrifice of his own darling Son.
The law reveals our utter helplessness (Psa. 24:3-4). Anyone who thinks he can keep the law and thereby win God’s favor simply does not know what the law requires. “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” (Gal. 4:21). The law demands both perfection and satisfaction. If a sinner ever sees what God requires in his law, he will beg for a Mediator (Ex. 20:1-19).
The law shows us our great need of Christ as our Substitute. Our only hope before God is that God himself will send One who is able and willing to satisfy his holy law for us. We must have a Substitute, one who is able to make us righteous, one who is able to redeem (Rom. 3:24-26). Give me Christ. I want nothing to do with God’s naked law! The law strips. Christ covers. The law condemns. Christ pardons. The law kills. Christ gives life. Not only is Christ the purpose and object of the law, the One to whom the law points,…
2. He is also the fulfillment of the law (Isa. 42:21). He has magnified the law and made it honorable. Our Lord said, “I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil the law.” The law demands complete obedience, without one spot or speck, failure or flaw. The law demands holiness, righteousness, perfection. The terms of the law cannot be lowered, not even in order to save God’s elect.
God’s holy law demands complete satisfaction. It will settle for nothing less than the death of every transgressor. In Christ all God’s elect have all that the law demands. His life is ours, for we lived in him representatively. His obedience is ours, for we obeyed God in him representatively. His death is ours, for when he died we died in him representatively (Rom. 5:19). In Christ we are free from the law’s curse (Rom. 8:1; Gal. 3:13). In Christ we fulfill the law. We fulfill it by faith in him (Rom. 3:31).
3. Christ is the termination of the law. Yes, you read that right. Christ is the end of the law in the sense that he is the termination of the law. Dead is just about as terminated as you can get; and Paul tells us that if we are truly married to Christ we are dead to the law (Rom. 7:1-4).
Christ has terminated the law as a covenant of life. -- “We are not under the law, but under grace.” Christ has terminated the law’s curse and penalty (Rom. 8:1-4; Gal. 3:13). In Christ, every believer has a just, righteous claim of merit upon all the blessedness of everlasting glory (Psa. 32:1-2). In him we are worthy of our heavenly inheritance (Col. 1:12). Do you see the sweet mystery of salvation by the substitutionary work of Christ? The law has no claim upon those for whom Christ died. The curse spent itself on our Redeemer. We are dead to the law. We are righteous, justified, guiltless, innocent in Christ.
Christ is the fulfilment and termination of all the law’s prophecies, types, and ceremonies. He has, in every sense of the word, made an “end” of the law.
4. “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.” Let this be clearly understood: -- No man can obtain righteousness of any kind, to any degree, of any merit before God by the works of the law (Gal. 2:21). God requires perfect righteousness and absolute “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Matt. 5:20; Heb. 12:14). We have no righteousness of our own, and we have no ability to produce righteousness (Isa. 64:6). The Lord Jesus Christ established that righteousness for his people, meeting all the law’s demands as our Representative (Phil. 3:8-10). The righteousness of the law is found only in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30-31). He is the Lord our Righteousness. We have no righteousness, neither for justification nor for sanctification, except Christ who is made of God unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption.
To whom is Christ the end of the law? “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” Do you see the stress of the text? It is just this: -- “To everyone that believeth.” The one issue of vital importance is this: -- “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” If you believe, Christ is the end of the law to you. If you do not believe, you are yet under the curse of God’s holy law.
If we would be saved we must submit to the righteousness of God. We must trust Christ alone for righteousness. Our sin cannot be put away, except by his blood atonement. We cannot be made holy before God, except by Christ. If we refuse to submit to the righteousness of God in Christ, we must forever perish in hell. This great, all-glorious, gracious Savior bids weary, helpless sinners come to and find rest for their souls, the rest of perfect atonement and perfect righteousness, by which we have perfect, perpetual acceptance with the holy Lord God (Matt. 11:28-30).
We must never attempt to serve God upon a legal principle (Col. 2:16-23). God will not accept legal obedience. We must never allow anyone to bring us back into bondage, no not for a moment. We must never trust our own righteousness. If anyone endeavors to do anything to gain God’s favor, to improve his standing in God’s favor, keep God’s favor, or merit anything from God, he has missed Christ altogether, missed the gospel entirely, and knows nothing of the grace of God in Christ, who is “the end of the law” (Gal. 5:2, 4). Self-righteousness sticks to human flesh like leaches. Shake it off. Flee from it. Cling to Christ alone for all your hope before God. He is “The Lord our Righteousness.”