END AND ESTABLISHMENT OF LAW
Aug 3, 2008 Ron Thomson "Free From The Law" .mp3
"For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth"
In what sense is Christ the end (telos) of the Law? Three different views have
· Christ has brought an end to the Law Dispensation; He has terminated it.
· Christ has completely satisfied all of the holy and righteous claims of the
Law in His vicarious death; He has fulfilled the Law.
· Christ is the goal to which the Law pointed.
No doubt all three of these things are true. The latter view is supported by Galatians
3:24, "Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be
justified by faith." The middle view is supported by such statements as Matthew 5:17,
"Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy,
but to fulfill." Similarly, 1 Timothy 1:5, "Now the end of the commandment is love out of
a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." However it would seem
in Romans that Paul is emphasizing the termination of the Law system. His twice
repeated statements earlier that the believer is not under Law but under grace (Rom.
6:14,15), his observation that people were justified by faith before the Law system came
into being and that they are now being saved completely apart from it (Rom. 3:21, 4:10),
and his use of the illustration of death ending the marriage relationship (Rom. 7:1-4), all
indicate that termination of the Law Dispensation is in the mind of the apostle in 10:4.
The idea of termination is prominent in other of Paul's epistles. In 2 Corinthians
3:11-13 Paul speaks of that which was engraven upon tablets of stone (the Law), and
For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is
glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of
speech. And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of
Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished.
Surely that which is done away and abolished is terminated. Again in Ephesians
2:15 he states the same idea of termination, "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity,
even the Law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of the
twain one new man, so making peace."
It needs to be emphasized that Paul's teaching about the reign of the Law having
come to an end in no way opens the door to sin or licentiousness. His opponents
slanderously reported that Paul's doctrine opened the door to lawlessness (cf. Rom. 3:8;
6:1,2). Christ is the end of the Law for RIGHTEOUSNESS, not unrighteousness. The
glory of the Law fades into insignificance when compared with the glory of the new
dispensation. The result of abolishing the Law of commandments contained in
ordinances was the formation of a new man, which after God is created in
righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24).
The abolishing of the Law system does not abolish morality, or what is right or
wrong. If we abolished the police department, things would still be either right or wrong,
but with human nature being what it is, the result of such action would be disastrous.
Why then is it not disastrous for the believer in Christ? Simply because the believer
must reckon his old sinful nature to have died with Christ, so that he is dead to sin and
therefore freed from sin (Rom. 6:2,7), and has been raised from the dead to walk in
newness of life. That is what faith is all about. Faith is not simply believing there is a
God, or the glib repeating of a formula. Faith is a belief that you were put to death in
Christ's death and that you have been raised from the dead to walk in newness of life.
To walk by faith means to live as though these facts are true, which indeed they are.
The problem is that the believer still has the principle of sin within his body, and too
often he walks by sight instead of by faith. If the world were populated by a race of
people having a divine nature that was incapable of sin, it would be not only needless
but ridiculous to have a police force or any form of law enforcement.
Paradoxically, Christ established the Law by abolishing it. He did not abolish it as
God's standard of righteousness, but as a dispensation over Israel.
"Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the
Law" (Rom. 3:31).
Again, we must distinguish between the economy or dispensation of the Mosaic
Law and the moral principles of the Law of God. The latter are in no way
dispensationally related. They are as unchangeable as is the nature of God. Even in
the code of the Ten Commandments there is one commandment which applied only to
Israel. If one is to keep the Ten Commandments, he must of necessity keep the
sabbath day. To keep the sabbath one must cease from every form of work on that
day: "Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the
Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death"
(Ex. 31:15). How can Seventh-day Adventists or any other seventh-day groups claim
they are actually keeping the sabbath of the Ten Commandments when they make their
own rules for what they can and cannot do, and when they do not enforce the Law? If
we keep on reading in Exodus 31:16 we will see plainly stated just who is supposed to
keep this day.
Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath
throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me
and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and
earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed (vv. 16,17).
The sabbath is never mentioned in the Bible until the children of Israel came to
Mt. Sinai. Abraham was justified by faith four hundred years before the sabbath was
given to Israel. The reason the sabbath command is placed among the moral
commands of the Law is clearly stated, "It is a sign between me and the children of
It was this whole legal system which had been imposed upon God's covenant
people that was done away (cf. 1 Cor. 13:10). It is most important to see that "These all
died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were
persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were pilgrims and
strangers on the earth" (Heb. 11:13). Verse 39 says the same thing, "And these all,
having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise." The promise
was basically regeneration, the impartation of the Holy Spirit, the adoption, as Paul
describes it in Galatians 3:29-4:7. It is apparent, then, that the Law was imposed upon
a people who were still in the flesh, even though they had faith in the promise that some
day in the future, at the time appointed by the Father, they would become full-fledged
sons of God by regeneration. (See Deut. 30:1-6, where the future "circumcision of the
heart" means regeneration.) God did not impose the Law for the purpose of making
them sons of God. He imposed it upon men in the flesh in order to reveal sin as a
transgression and to show the impossibility of the flesh to produce a righteousness
which is acceptable to God. After this legal system has accomplished its objective, and
the long awaited promise has been fulfilled, there is no further need of the legal system.
Thus there is a seeming paradox. On the one hand the Law has been done
away, and on the other the Law has been established. The Law has been established
in several ways. All of its righteous claims and penalties against the sinner have been
paid in the sacrificial death of God's Son. God raised Him from the dead as evidence
He is completely satisfied with that work. The Law is also established in that God has
placed within the believer the Holy Spirit of life who is able to fulfill in the believer's life
the righteous requirements the Law decrees.
THE LAW OF CHRIST
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2).
Paul spent the first half of Galatians trying to show believers they had been set
free from the Law, and now in the last chapter he tells the believer to fulfil the law of
Christ. This is the only time this expression occurs in Paul's writings. What does he
mean by it? Paul had said earlier in this epistle, "For all the Law is fulfilled in one word,
even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Gal. 5:14). Paul also wrote to the
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath
fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill,
Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and
if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying,
namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his
neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law (Rom. 13:8-10).
Jesus, the night before the extreme manifestation of His love in giving Himself to
die for the sins of the world, said to His disciples:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved
you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my
disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34,35).
Jesus told the lawyer who had asked, Which is the great commandment of the
Law? "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with
all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law
and the prophets" (Matt. 22:37-40). Love fulfills the Mosaic Law given fifteen centuries
before Christ. Why then did Jesus say He was giving a NEW commandment, when the
old one said the same thing? The newness of this commandment was the kind of love
that was called for. They were to love as He loved them. To what degree did He love?
Paul answers that question:
For scarcely for a righteous man will men die: yet peradventure for a good man
some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:7,8).
Moses required man to love his neighbor as himself. Christ's Law is to love his
neighbor more than himself, even as Christ did. John tells us, "Hereby perceive we the
love of God, because He laid down Ms life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for
the brethren" (1 John 3:16). Many of those early believers did just that. And many
missionaries during the ensuing years have laid down their lives in carrying the gospel
to a people who often persecuted them and even put them to death. Paul, in defending
the doctrine of the resurrection, asked, "And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I
protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily" (1 Cor.
15:30,31). "As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted
as sheep for the slaughter" (Rom. 8:36).
This kind of love could never be generated by the flesh, man's sinful nature. It
can come only as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And Paul informs us if we are led of
the Spirit, we are not under the Mosaic Law system (Gal. 5:18), which was put over the
flesh, the works of which he then enumerates. The Mosaic Law was against all of the
works of the flesh, but of the fruit of the Spirit he says, "Against such there is no Law"
(Gal. 5:23). Who could ever imagine a Law that said, Thou shalt not love, Thou shalt
not be good, Thou shalt not have self-control? And we should remember that it is in this
context of love as the fruit of the Spirit that Paul utters the words of our text, "Bear ye
one another's burdens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ."
In Paul's epistles, grace is always the antithesis of Law. We are not under Law
but under grace. And faith is the antithesis of works. We are justified by faith entirely
apart from works. Any effort to put Law and grace on a continuum frustrates the grace
of God. Paul declares, "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes
by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." And again, "And if by grace, then it is no more of
works, otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace;
otherwise work is no more work." Law and works are just the opposite of grace and
faith. These two opposites cannot be placed on the same level without denial of the
The teaching that the Law and the gospel of the grace of God are of the same
nature, varying only in degree, is contradicted by Scripture. Peter testified that the Law
was "a yoke ... which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear." Is this in any way
the nature of the gospel? And further, Peter says it would be "tempting God" to put this
yoke upon the neck of Paul's Gentile converts (Acts 15:10, 11). And what figure of
speech does Paul use in comparing Law with grace? He likens the Law given at Mt.
Sinai to the son of the slave girl, Hagar, who was born in the ordinary course of nature,
as compared with the son of the free woman who was born as a result of God's promise
in a supernatural way. It is most important to see that Paul says Hagar represents the
covenant made at Mt. Sinai (Gal. 4:24). Is Paul associating Hagar and Sarah as being
on a continuum, or is he contrasting them?
Nevertheless, what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son:
for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
And in the next chapter of Galatians Paul uses the same terminology as Peter
did in describing the Law, "the yoke of bondage." Paul clearly states that
dispensationally Israel under the Law of Moses was treated no differently from that of a
slave, in contrast to the full liberty of sonship under the gospel (Gal. 4:1-7).
Again, in Galatians 3:17-21, Paul goes out of the way to explain he is talking
about the Law of Moses given at Mt. Sinai. He even dates it - four hundred and thirty
years after the Abrahamic Covenant. His argument here is that the Mosaic Covenant
cannot disannul the promise made to Abraham. If Paul considered the Law to be a
dispensation of what Covenant theologians call the Covenant of Grace, why would Paul
even raise the question of annulment? He raised the question, because "as many as
are of the works the Law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that
continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them." Israel
was under the curse, for they had not continued to perform all things which were written
in the book of the Law. How, then, could they ever inherit the promise made to
Abraham? Paul answers by showing that no one, not even God, can disannul or add to
a covenant which has been confirmed, as was the Abrahamic Covenant. Therefore
when the Law was added four hundred and thirty years later it was not added to and
thus did not become a part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul uses two different words
for "adding" in Galatians 3:15 and 19. The Law was added in the sense it was
temporarily brought in alongside of the promise until Christ should come to take away
transgressions and bring an end to the Dispensation of Law.
It is impossible for Law to give life (Gal. 3:21), and that is what those who are
dead in trespasses and sins need. This rules out the possibility of attaining eternal life
by keeping the Law. It is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
according to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5). Paul makes plain from the beginning of
his Gentile ministry the impossibility of being justified by the Law of Moses.
And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not
be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:39).
It would seem, however, that Paul had problems with people who, after they had
trusted Christ for salvation, turned back to the Law as a means to sanctification. They
began in the Spirit, but they then sought to become mature by the flesh (Gal. 3:3). The
Law is always associated with the flesh. When we try to control the flesh by an outward
rule or law we become entangled with a yoke of bondage. We lose our liberty (Gal.
5:1), and become subject to ordinances, "touch not; taste not; handle not" (Col. 2:21).
Regarding attainment of spiritual maturity by the keeping of rules, The Living Bible
paraphrases Colossians 2:23:
These rules may seem good, for rules of this kind require strong devotion and
are humiliating and are hard on the body, but they have no effect when it comes
to conquering a person's evil thoughts and desires. They only make him proud.
As Christians we know Christ died for the sins of the world. But many Christians
have never heard that they also died in their identification with Christ's death. A
Christian may be defined as one who has died – “For you died, and your life is now
hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3; see also Rom. 6:1-10; 7:4; Gal. 2:20). Believing
the gospel means we not only believe Christ died for us, but that we died with him.
Most Christians have believed only half of the gospel. When we believe that we died
with Christ we will reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God
through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:11). When we do this, we are walking by means
of the Spirit, and if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law (Gal. 5:18).
Paul's simple conclusion of the whole matter is, "If the Spirit is the source of our life, let
the Spirit also direct our course" (Gal. 5:25, NEB).
A concordance study of the word "GRACE" would make a valuable counterpart
to this present study. It would serve to further show the uniqueness of these subjects in
the Pauline scriptures. The word "grace" is not even once mentioned in Matthew or
Mark. The Greek word does occur eight times in Luke, translated "thank" four times, as
"favor" twice (once referring to Mark and once to Jesus), and once as "gracious words."
John uses it three times (1:14,16,17). Grace appears eighteen times in Acts, but not in
the sense of salvation until 11:39, where Gentile salvation outside Israel began. After
that it is used eleven times in connection with Paul's missionary ministry. But "grace"
appears 119 times in Paul's epistles, compared to 45 times in all of the other New
Testament books. Since grace and Law are contrasted as opposites in Paul's writing, it
is only to be expected there would be a great emphasis upon Paul's use of "grace." It is
to be hoped that those who have gone through this study will follow up with a study of
their own on grace in the unique revelation given through the apostle Paul for members
of the Body of Christ.