The End of the Law

"Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes" (Romans 10:4).

"CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW." He was the One to whom it pointed with a thousand fingers, for every command and sacrifice and ordinance spake out to the faith of those former days that He was coming who would be the fulfilment of them all.

We are travelling to London, and the finger-posts are most helpful to us along the road. Without them we should often be in doubt, and sometimes quite astray; but when at last we reach the City and stand in St. Paul's Churchyard we no longer need the pointers: London is the end of them for us. So pointed onward those ancient God-given finger-posts of the law until Christ came; but now He has come, and we need not turn back to them again, which were but the shadow of Christ who is the substance, and in whom all fullness dwells.

"Christ is the end of the law FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS." We wished to obtain an article at a local tradesman's place of business, but we found that the usual door to his shop had been boarded up. On these boards, however, there was a notice in which we read: "This door closed. Entrance round the corner." We did not waste our time in making vain attempts to force our way through that old door, but, following the plain directions, we entered by the new way, and obtained what we wanted. Men need righteousness if they are to be at peace with God, and if this righteousness could have been obtained through the law, then the law would have stood as the way of blessing; but no sinful foot ever trod that road, and so none were, nor could be, justified by the deeds of the law. Now God has closed that way for ever; He has superseded it by Christ, and through Him the worst of men may obtain the blessing without works.

"Christ is the end of the law for righteousness TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH." The law has nothing to say to, it has no jurisdiction over, the one who believes in Jesus. No matter how great the terror or bitter the bondage in which it held him anterior to his faith. Christ is the end of it, in Christ he is beyond its reach for ever. There toils a slave for a hard master on a West African shore, but in his misery he has heard of a way by which he can be free, and in eager hope he scans the sea. At last there greets his longing eyes the sight for which he looked — a ship flying the Union Jack. He plunges into the water, and with strong and rapid strokes he cleaves the waves until he stands at last where no slave breathes — upon the deck of a British ship, a bit of British possession. So the one who is in Christ is free; once, "in the flesh," he quailed and groaned beneath the terrible demands of a holy law, but now in Christ there is no condemnation; and all who are in Him are free men; and it is here that grace puts all who believe, so that Christ becomes the end of all the toiling and wretchedness and despair into which the law plunged the awakened soul who found that his whole nature as in the flesh was contrary to it. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

But can the just claims of the holy law be ignored? Can men despise and break it with impunity? Impossible! It must be upheld; the penalty and curse must fall if it is broken. Yet viewed from this side also Christ is the end of the law to everyone that believes.

In the dock of the Assize Court stands a guilty man. The witnesses have spoken, the jury has conferred, and the verdict has been given. Amid the solemn hush the stern judge pronounces the condemnation, and the felon passes down to his cell to await the morning of the execution of that dread sentence. That morning arrives, and the man dies for his crime, and to him the law of the land can say no more: his death is the end of it for him, it can pursue him no further.

So were we condemned, so lay we under the curse of the broken law, and yet we who believe are now free from it, even though we have not borne the penalty. But how in righteousness can that be? Behold for answer that central gibbet on Calvary. Impaled thereon hangs One who did no sin, who had fulfilled the law in every jot of it, and who found His delight in so doing. The law had no judgment for Him, and death had no claim upon Him. Yet He bore the curse of the law and died for US. He met its full demands by the sacrifice of Himself. He was there as our substitute, and in our stead He paid the penalty, and we died in Him.

"Death and the Curse were in our cup,
  O Christ, 'twas full for Thee;
But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,
  'Tis empty now for me.
That bitter cup, love drank it up,
  Left but the love for me."

When our Lord Jesus Christ hung dead upon the cross there was an end of the law and all its dread claims for those who believe. Blessed deliverance! And He who died for us lives again, a risen Saviour; and we who believe are in Him, partakers of His life, indwelt by His Spirit, and happy and free, so that now the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, who in Christ are beyond the reach of condemnation and for ever righteous before God, and "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4).