This article addresses the concept that Christ's earthly obedience of perfection fulfilled the Law for the Jew and hence, eliminated the guilt of the Law to the Jews. This is a false concept because His perfect obedience was so He could be the perfect sin sacrafice for the Jews and the world. If His death was to fulfill the Law then He died in vain because why would He have to die if He fulfilled the Law.
Romans 10:4 Christ is the end of the Law unto righteousness to every one that believeth. There has been much discussion of the meaning of the word "end" here. Let us see if Scripture does not clear up the matter for us. When Christ died, He bore for Israel the curse of the Law, for they, and they alone, were under Law. Divine Law, being broken, does not ask for future good conduct on the part of the transgressor; but for his death,--and that only. Now Christ having died, all the claims of the Law against that nation which had been placed under law were completely met and ended. So that even Jews could now believe, and say, "I am dead to the Law!"
To him that believes, therefore, Jew or Gentile, Christ, dead, buried, and risen, is the end of law for righteousness,--in the sense of law's disappearance from the scene! Law does not know, or take cognizance of believers! We read in Chapter Seven (verse 6) that those who had been under the Law were discharged from the Law, brought to nought, put out of business (katargeo), with respect to the Law! The Law has nothing to do with them, as regards righteousness.
The Scripture must be obeyed with the obedience of belief: "Ye are not under law [not under that principle] but under grace" [the contrary principle]. "Ye are brought to nothing from Christ [literally, "put out of business from Christ"], ye who would be justified by the Law; ye are fallen away from grace" (Gal. 5:4). Paul writes in Hebrews 7:18,19: "There is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment, because of its weakness and unprofitableness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, through which we draw near unto God." Again, "Christ abolished in His flesh the enmity [between Jew and Gentile], even the Law of commandments contained in ordinances" (Eph. 2:15); again, speaking as a Hebrew believer, Paul says, "Christ blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and He hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross" (Col 2:14).
If these Scriptures do not set forth a complete closing up of any believer's account toward the Law, or to the whole legal principle, I know nothing of the meaning of words.
The words Christ is the end of the Law, cannot mean Christ is the "fulfillment of what the law required." The Law required obedience to precepts--or death for disobedience. Now Christ died! If it be answered, that before He died He fulfilled the claims of the Law, kept it perfectly, and that this law-keeping of Christ was reckoned as over against the Israelite's breaking of the Law, then I ask, Why should Christ die? If the claims of the Law were met in Christ's earthly obedience, and if that earthly life of obedience is "reckoned to those who believe" the curse of the Law has been removed by "vicarious law-keeping." Why should Christ die?
Now this idea of Christ keeping the Law for "us" (for they will include us among the Israelites! although the Law was not given to us Gentiles), is a deadly heresy, no matter who teaches it. Paul tells us plainly how the curse of the Law was removed: "Christ redeemed us, " (meaning Jewish believers), "from the curse of the Law, having become a curse, is seen in Deuteronomy 21:23: "He that is hanged is accursed of God." It was on the cross, not by an "earthly life of obedience, " that Christ bore the Law's curse.
There was no law given "which could make alive, " Paul says; "otherwise righteousness would have been by it." Therefore those who speak of Christ as taking the place of fulfilling the Law for us,--as "the object at which the Law aimed" (Alford); or, "the fulfillment or accomplishment of the Law" (Calvin); give the Law an office that God did not give it. There is not in all Scripture a hint of the doctrine that Christ's earthly life--His obedience as a man under the [Mosaic] Law, is "put to the account" of any sinner whatsoever! That obedience, which was perfect, was in order that He might "present Himself through the eternal Spirit without spot unto God, " as a sin-offering. It also was in order to His sacrificial death, as "a curse," that Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3). William R. Newell, Romans, Verse by Verse