Month: April 2023

Christ: The End of the Law

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Romans 10:4-6 

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Prior to entering the Promised Land, Moses reminds the people that it is not on account of their own righteousness or their accomplishments that they are entering the land. In fact, it was just the opposite. They were an obstinate people who continuously refused to obey; thus, Moses made it clear that it was solely God’s goodness, His grace, and His promise to their fathers that He was bringing them into the land: “understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Deuteronomy 9:6). Similarly, God has delivered us and has granted us passage through the narrow gate and along the narrow path, not by our own merit or righteousness, but by the mercy and grace bestowed upon us through Jesus Christ. It is through Christ that we are deemed righteous (right before God) or justified before Him in order to travel the narrow path, the path of life. When we stand at the trailhead of life, we understand that there is no other way to begin the journey but through Christ. How does one arrive at this realization? He looks intently into the royal law and realizes that because of his transgression against the law, there is no righteousness in him to appeal to, only sin and condemnation. In this sense, the law leads us to Christ, for His sacrifice is the only means of finding forgiveness and reconciliation. Once we have been granted these through faith, then our journey down the narrow path begins.

Many have fallen into error believing that once we begin this journey, that the law is no longer of use. In fact, many take Paul’s words in Romans 10 (and elsewhere) to mean that the law is not only obsolete but is now a curse to anyone who attempts to live by it. Is this what Paul meant when he said that Christ is the end of the law? Is this what Moses, the prophets, or even Christ taught us? Moses tells Israel that “the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe these commandments before the Lord our God, as He commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:24-25). Though Israel possessed no righteousness in and of themselves when God brought them out of Egypt and into the promised land, God brought them out of Egypt and into the wilderness for this reason–to train them up in righteousness. The same holds true today. God delivers us by His mercy, then leads us into the training grounds of the wilderness for this purpose: “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2). Even Jesus, who was righteous, had to undergo this process–being baptized and tested in the wilderness– in order to fulfill all manner of righteousness (Matthew 3:15). God wants to know what is in our hearts, to know if our resolve is to live righteously and be holy as He is holy. This is all part of our journey down the narrow path; this is what it means to be born into and grow up in the family of God.

1 John 2:29

“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

Romans 6:19

“For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for holiness.”

Our acceptance into life begins with Christ, and our journey down the narrow path ends with Christ. In other words, the purpose of our journey is to look and be like Christ. This has always been the end or the goal, and it is for this reason that Christ even traveled among Israel in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:3). This is what is meant by “Christ is the end of the Law.” Now the “end” itself has a sense of termination like, “we have reached the end of the road.” Or, when we speak of the end, we take it it to mean that something has ceased to exist. But is this what this means? Let us also consider that the Greek word also means the end in terms of a goal. In that sense, Christ is our goal, and He is the goal to which the Torah–and all instruction–leads. He is what God will produce in us through each and every one of His words and commands. This is why Christ said in both Deuteronomy and Matthew that man should live by EVERY word that comes from the mouth of God. It is for this purpose that, on path of life, God feeds us His Torah, so we become like Christ. Likewise, when we gaze into the mirror, or the “perfect law of liberty” as James calls it, the reflection we see is Christ. He is the image of righteousness that the Torah leads to and ought to produce. Why? Because He lived it perfectly, and now through God’s word and Spirit, He trains us up to do and be the same:

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Torah of God is not done away with, rather, it is fulfilling that for which it was designed: instruction in righteousness. Paul says that this instruction will make us complete, and what does complete look like? Like Christ. So, not only does the the law lead us to repentance in Christ and the outset of our journey, but it is further used by God to help us reach our goal which, according to Paul, is for us to “attain the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13). The end of the law is when we reach the mature man and, and through His guidance, obtain the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Finally, it is for this reason that Jesus said that the law and the prophets are not destroyed or annulled, but have been fulfilled. Jesus came to fulfill the aspects of the law that have led to our redemption and reconciliation, but He has also come to model for us what a Torah-centered life looks like so it, through His grace and help, can be fulfilled in us–both physically and spiritually. The life of Jesus demonstrates how to go about completing the righteous training God requires, and that is to live by every word. It was Jesus who said, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). Why every commandment, even the least of them? Because every jot and tittle was given to us to fulfill God’s end in us: to be exactly like Christ.

1 John 2:6

“He who says He abides in Him ought also Himself to walk as He walked.”

Torah: The Path to Life

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Life is filled with choices, and we know that many of these choices determine who we become and what becomes of us. Many of the fundamental decisions we make are difficult ones and are often depicted in story and art by travelers standing before diverging paths, faced with the task of choosing just one to travel. In his famous poem, The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost penned the famous words, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference1.”  Among other things, Frost highlights what seems to be a universal truth or experience, namely that the difficult choices, the ones that are filled with challenge and uncertainty, are often the ones that, in the end, lead to self-actualization and fulfillment. This is a truth that also rings true in the scriptures. Throughout the narrative of the scriptures, God’s people–and all of humanity for that matter– are confronted by two diverging roads, roads that were first described by Moses in Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 30:19-20:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants…by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

In the New Testament, Jesus presents the same two roads in His Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 7:13

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

From the beginning of our days, humanity has been traveling these paths. Sadly, as Jesus Christ points out, most of humanity has been traveling the broad way, the way of destruction, the one that leads to death and not to life. Even we ourselves have traveled this road from time to time and have had our share in the way of destruction. It should give us pause when we consider that the broad way, the way of destruction is the one that is favored and most traveled. What is this path and why would any individual choose to walk it if its end is destruction? This is the path that takes us into the depths of the mind of Satan; it is the path of chaos, disorder, and destruction, but it is cloaked in convenience, pleasure, and expediency. This is why it is so enticing. This is the path that Jesus calls us to avoid, the path Moses calls the way of death, and what Paul later describes as the law or way of the flesh.

The other journey takes us, so to speak, through the highways, the mountains, the valleys of the mind of God. This journey takes us through the law of God, or as it is called in Hebrew, the Torah. This way takes us along the path of life and this is the narrow road, and according to Jesus, only a few find it. Why only a few? Because the way is difficult. To travel this path, we must, first and foremost, surrender our lives to Christ, put to death the deeds of the flesh–which are contrary to the law–and allow Christ to rebuild our nature through His Torah (truth) and through the Spirit of Truth. In fact, when Jesus prayed for His followers He asked the Father to “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth(John 17:17), and of the Spirit, Jesus promised: “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13). This is the path of life… the path of truth, and the two sources from which we receive truth are God’s Torah and His Spirit. It is not enough to read and know the truth, but we must be immersed in and sanctified by the truth in order to travel the path of life. This sanctification process is carried out by the Spirit, who brings to life the words and spiritual meanings within the Torah, using these to lead us through the depths of God’s mind, His nature, and His character. Through this process we are transformed more and more into the image of God and likeness of Jesus Christ, who is the pure embodiment of Spirit and Truth. 

Thus, the Torah of God is far more than what people think of when they talk about the law of God. Most of our understanding of the law has been formed from what we have today. The normal laws that we are used to living by are filled with a bunch of do’s and don’ts—red light means stop and green light means go. There is nothing spiritual about it. They are meant to keep harmony, but if we do not have them there will be chaos and disorder. God’s law is also designed to establish order, but it is also so much more than that; when we talk about the law of God, again, we are talking about experiencing the mind of God, the nature of God, the personality of God, the character of God. His law, because it is spiritual, reveals the essence of who He is. This is the primary reason why we seek to understand the law from His perspective, because it not only communicates what He expects from us, but how He feels about us, what He thinks about us, and His intentions for all creation. It is one of the primary ways He communicates Himself with us.

Another reason our understanding of the law is necessary is because God is creating man in His own likeness and in His own image. He is duplicating himself, duplicating His nature and character in us, and He has chosen to do it through His law. His law is spiritual; His law is a living thing. He delivers this law through the one who would later be called the Logos–Jesus Christ. He not only had the Truth, but He is the Truth, He is the Way, He is the Path to eternity, and He is the Destination toward which we travel. It is through the Logos, that we see and understand what the duplicating process consists of and the end to which it leads. We must go through Him, and through Him means to absorb His mind and His nature and His character. He said you must eat my flesh and drink my blood or you will never have life in you (John 6:53). This was a difficult saying for many, but Jesus wanted us to know that He is the full embodiment of Truth given to us. Whose Truth? The Father’s. In Jesus, every jot and tittle of the law was and is made manifest and available to us. He lived the Torah perfectly without spot or blemish. This is why He called Himself the TRUTH (John 14:6), because He is the living Torah, free of spot and blemish. Because He is the Torah in its fullness, He also calls Himself the WAY, not just because He traveled the way on our behalf, but because He shows us the WAY we, ourselves, ought to walk, which is by emulating His obedience. It follows, then, that if He is the TRUTH and His example the WAY, then He is also LIFE. For God’s Torah is life. For Moses told us that the WAY to LIFE is to obey God’s TRUTH. This has been the message from the beginning, that God’s word, His Torah is THE TRUTH, and because it is so, He commanded Israel to walk according to this WAY, so that they would experience LIFE. Jesus is the personification of all of these concepts.

As we embark on our journey through the scriptures, let us remember that they are more than just stories and recorded history. They are, in fact, the path to life. This is why Jesus instructed us to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, because His words are life. So then, let us choose life. Let us walk the narrow road and seek to enter through the narrow gate. It is this road–traveled through the mind, the nature, and character of God, communicated through His Torah–that not only leads us to the Kingdom of God, but is fulfilling His divine purpose: “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness.”

1 Frost, R., 1916. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. [online] Poetry Foundation. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 April 2023].