For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
The desire for righteousness has embodied itself in diverse and some of them grotesque forms. Gather together the Pharisee with his phylacteries and ablutions; the Chinaman burning his bits of paper for ancestral worship; the Hindoo bathing in the sacred river, or prostrating himself under the idol-car; the Roman Catholic telling his beads and performing his penance; and the moral youth, who never omits his daily portion of Scripture, or his morning and evening prayers, and would scorn to tell an untruth; and one would scarce imagine that the same motive actuates all these. Yet they all bear witness to man's anxiety to be righteous in the sight of the Supreme Being, and those are abnormally Constituted who are never conscious of this yearning. It was not this strong desire for righteousness which the apostle tried to alter in the Jews, but the antiquated imperfect method to which they still clung after the one sure way of justification through faith in Christ had been proclaimed.
I. CHRIST THE TERMINATION OF THE LEGAL ECONOMY. The rending of the veil at the Crucifixion indicated the passing away of the old dispensation, with all its gorgeous rites and external splendour. There arose another order of priesthood, from which the exclusiveness of the former caste was absent. Jesus the High Priest came not of the tribe of Levi. It is no longer necessary to become a Jew in order to reap the privileges of access to God. Christ has released men from the yoke of the Law, with its fasts and feasts, its observance of days and seasons. He has changed our state from pupilage to manhood; from slavery to a "reasonable service." Wherever a Christian is found, there is a spiritual priest and a living temple; wherever Christians meet, there is a holy convocation. The tabernacle disappeared when the temple was erected, and the earthly temple is no longer needed when the glorious building rises, reared without hands. The Jews who would not receive this teaching had to be convinced, by the capture of Jerusalem and the burning of their "beautiful house," that "the old order changed, giving place to new." The forerunner of Christ was the last of the Old Testament prophets.
II. CHRIST THE DESIGN AND SCOPE OF THE LEVITICAL DISPENSATION. We cannot understand the Law unless we regard it as pointing unmistakably to the coming Messiah, preparing his way; a preliminary education of mankind and of one nation in particular; like a stock on which a new rose is to be grafted. The sacrifices, the moral and ceremonial precepts, were predictive, were prophecy acted in symbol and type. The chrysalis displays tokens of the winged perfect insect. "The Law hath been our tutor to bring us unto Christ." So that when men inquire, "To what purpose was all this cost of legislation and ritual?" the reply is that it paved the way for something better; it was the "shadow of good things to come."
III. CHRIST THE REALIZATION OF THE MOSAIC IDEAL. The holiness which the Law ever kept in view, endeavouring to raise men to its standard of righteousness, has been exemplified in Jesus Christ. Wherein the Law was weak, Christ was strong. His condemnation of sin was thorough and effective, and the perfection of his sacrifice renders any subsequent atonement needless. To enter into the spirit of his offering is to "purge the conscience from dead works" and to give rest and peace to the troubled - the region in which the Law was inoperative. The message of Divine love sounding from the cross has a constraining influence over the affections and life of the Christian, which the Law aimed at and failed to achieve. New Testament saints have frequently attained to an enlightenment of mind and conformity to the Divine will which was sighed after in vain by patriarch, psalmist, and prophet. Christ bring his followers into communion with God, and by faith in him are they sanctified. Love is proved a stronger principle than terror, knowledge than ignorance, example than precept. In abrogating, Christ fulfils the Law.
CONCLUSION. See, then, what faith does. It looks at Christ instead of a Law of ordinances. It is no longer tied by enactments and fearful of non-compliance, for it beholds the face of Jesus, "the Lamb as it had been slain." We may trust Christ as our Redeemer and Guide, without understanding or acknowledging all these points of superiority over the former covenant; as a woman knows she will be benefited by a certain medicine, though she could not name its ingredients, nor state the method of its working; or as a man may journey on the railway who comprehends little of the application of steam to locomotives, etc. And faith is content to submit to God's righteousness, instead of seeking to establish its own. It relies not upon personal desert, but upon the provisions of mercy furnished in Christ. It is humble, and tries not to patch together a human garment to hide deformities and deficiencies. Accepting the gracious offer of God, faith discovers new elements of strength and joy in the very position assumed. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.