27th February 2011

Christ, The End Of The Law

“What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come….”
Galatians 3:19 (NIV UK) 

Every time I read the letters of the apostle Paul, I see that boldly he proclaimed the truth of what God accomplished though the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. In many of his letters, Paul spent a good deal of time trying to help reconcile to God those who could not trust Jesus because their hope rested in the law.

It’s important to note that the law God gave to Israel was temporary. It was designed to be temporary, to remain in effect only until Christ came.

For Israel, the law was a teacher, teaching them about sin and righteousness and the need for redemption. It guided them until the promised Messiah came, through whom God would bless all the nations. But the law could not give Israel either righteousness or salvation. It could only tell them that they were guilty, that they were sinners in need of a Saviour.

For the Christian church, the law, as the entire Old Testament, teaches us who God is. It also teaches us how he raised up a people through whom the Saviour would come to take away their sins—not only of God’s people Israel, but the sins of the whole world.

The law was never intended as a substitute for a relationship with God, but as a means of leading Israel toward their Saviour. In other words, God had a starting point and an ending point for the law, and the ending point was the death and resurrection of the Messiah and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Paul continues: “…if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (verses 21-26 my emphasis).

Before God opened his eyes of understanding, Paul had not seen to where the law pointed—toward a loving, merciful and forgiving God who would save us from the sins the law revealed. Instead, he had seen the law as an end in itself, and had therefore ended up with a burdensome, empty and destructive religion.

“I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death” he writes in Romans 7:10 and he asks in verse 24, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The answer he found is that salvation comes only by the grace of God, and can be experienced only through faith in Jesus Christ.

So in all this we see that the path to righteousness is not through the law, which cannot take away our guilt. The only path to righteousness is through faith in Jesus, in whom all our sins are forgiven and in whom we are reconciled to our faithful God, who loves us unconditionally and will never let us go.

Holy Father, thank you so much for revealing to us that faith in Jesus is everything for a Christian. Faith in his pure life, his sacrifice for all sin, his love for humanity to be willing to go through everything on our behalf. Father, we believe; help Thou our unbelief! In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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