Romans 10:4 NIV
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
I wanted to key in on this verse. Its meaning hinges on the word ‘end’. What did Paul mean by this word? Here is how the Greek word ‘telos’ can be translated:
Performance, consummation, fulfillment, result, event, power of deciding, supreme power, validity, magistracy, government, completion, end, finish, cessation, achievement, goal, prize, purpose.
Out of these options three are normally used in this verse.
2. goal, culmination, consummation
3. termination, cessation
Let’s look at these options and compare them with other scriptures.
1. Fulfillment Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. NIV Jesus explicitly states that He fulfills the law. In the teaching that follows He compares His teaching of how to fulfill the Laws intent with how the scribes interpreted it. He always went to the heart attitude rather than an external fulfillment. Example: don’t murder contrasted with don’t hate. Jesus not only fulfilled the Law in himself, but taught us how the law was to be fulfilled. Ro 13:10, Gal 5:14, Jas 2:8 Love is the fulfilling of the law.
2. Goal Galatians 3:24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. NIV Here the goal of the law was to lead us and prepare us for Christ. The law shows us what sin is. Rom 8:3-4 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. The problem with the law is us, not the law. The law is good, we will not do it. We are slaves to ourselves and will not love.
3. Termination contra Romans 3:31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. NIV Romans 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. NIV The law is not terminated. It is still how we know sin. But no long do we relate to God on its basis. We have a new arrangement – the New Covenant – where we are forgiven and are given a new life that comes from believing the truth about Jesus. Our flesh has been dealt with by death on the cross so we are no longer slaves to sin – to ourselves.
Here is an illustration showing what it is like if we want to relate to God through the law. God standard of righteousness is like the distance from here to the Andromeda galaxy. We may jump as high as we can, but the distance is insurmountable. I may jump 2 feet, and some may even jump 7, but we are all woefully short. It is a very high standard, equal with the glory of God. The problem is not the standard, the problem is us.
Here is an illustration of what it is like to relate to God by faith. The distance is still the same. But now, when we believe and confess with our mouths the truth, His word performs in us what He says. There was a time when I was in Bible School I had an ex girlfriend who I could not get an emotional release from. I annoyed her with my unwanted attentions. I fasted, I prayed, I had counsel, yet I could not get over her. My emotions and thoughts held me prisoner. One day while I was simply walking down a hallway the Lord shouted 3 words into my heart. He said “Give Her Up”. As soon as He spoke those words it was accomplished. My heart was instantly freed from that emotional feedback loop. I could sit next to her and it was the same as sitting next to any of the other young ladies at the school. No emotional pull. I was free and Jesus did it through His word.
Jesus’ word when believed creates in us what He spoke. Now by learning to love by walking in the Spirit the distance from here to the Andromeda galaxy is crossed by Christ living through His word in us who believe. We are forgiven. We stand pure before the Lord. We are growing in love each day. There is no law against this fruit. Christ did in us what we cannot do ourselves.
Philippians 3:8-9 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. NIV