Yesterday, I wrote about “The End of the Law”. The main point is that it is love that should drive us and motivate us to do what is pleasing in God’s sight. From there, the Law drives us to Christ in a loving and lasting relationship.
But, that is still only a rather two dimensional view of it all. After all, it is describing our journey there, but it doesn’t go into the details of what we will be like when we get there. It is more than just about arrival. In a word, we should be “changed”.
In fact, the entire journey is about change. It starts with change. It starts with a different thought. It starts with the opening of our eyes. Once our eyes open slightly, we find it difficult to accept the light. Over time, though, we are able to focus and see. Our eyes change so they can focus more clearly.
Once we can see, we can see what a mess we are in. We begin to understand just where our sins have taken us. We begin to realize we need help. We begin to understand we need to change just more than our perceptions about things. We need repentance.
Repentance comes from two root Greek words meaning literally “after” and “understanding”. The implication is quite clear. You must be able to understand before you can repent. That’s why the Church of God doesn’t believe in infant baptism. A baby just cannot understand. Neither can a person whose mind has not been opened to the truth (Jn 6:44).
Repentance, “metanoeo” G3340, means to turn away, to go a different direction, or as Strong’s quotes FF Bruce: “Repentance (metanoia, ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; the repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness.”
Then, comes even more change! Then, there is the process called “conversion”, which is all about major change even after we get pointed in the right direction!
What shows us the direction? What is our compass? The drawing of the Father. What is our roadmap? The Law. What strengthens us for the journey and helps to keep us from stumbling? The Holy Spirit.
What is the road? What is the destination? Jesus Christ. What does that mean, though?
If we must change, then what do we change into? What do we become? Who showed us the way? Who showed us how it is done?
Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. However, there was a certain incompleteness about them. They needed the Tree of Life, but instead they partook of a very different tree. Jesus, the “second Adam”, came to once again reveal the Tree of Life to a world that has been cut off. He lived and was crucified and raised again – in the image of the Father.
There are three passages that almost take you step by step through a chain of logic that is so fantastic that it can be difficult to grasp:
4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:4, King James Version)
15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (Colossians 1:15, King James Version)
10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Colossians 3:10, King James Version)
Above, we see a progression of Jesus being in the image of God the Father, Who became the firstborn of creation and then that we “put on the new man” in order to take on His image. We follow in our Elder Brother’s footsteps to be remade in the image of God!
Then, this powerful passage:
49And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. (1 Corinthians 15:49, King James Version)
And, let’s not forget:
29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29, King James Version)
So, when we are told that Christ is “the end of the Law”, it means more than just a destination, but rather also how we should arrive. We are shaped and molded by repentance, turning away from our sins, and our conversion, becoming more like Christ everyday.
God, who changes not (Mal 3:6), and Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8), instituted the Law for our benefit (Dt 30:19). The Law was not intended to be a curse. The curse comes from breaking the Law. Sin trips us up on the journey to being formed in the image of Christ.
As an elder once put it, the Law is the written expression of the character of God. Therefore, sin mars our own character and cuts short our integrity. It blurs the image we are supposed to become.
Excellent post. May I add more concerning Jesus as the "Way"?
Matthew 5:20 says "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
But we can't ever achieve that kind of perfection in this temporary life. And we can't "out Pharisee the Pharisees". Yet we have a far better way and an astonishing gift.
Phillippians 3:9 "and be found in Him, NOT having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through FAITH in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
We have the righteousness of God imparted to us by faith! When the Father looks at us – he sees his son – not the temporary and flawed humans that we are. Christ intercedes for us.
It is very freeing when we live the law through faith in Jesus Christ – not trying to achieve righteousness by our own efforts. We must "work" to crucify our sinful flesh – but not work for our righteousness which is a gift!
Does that mean we don't obey the law? This is where Protestants jump ship. Of course we obey the law – we are drawn to obey it. So many scriptures show that we must. But we do it in faith and our righteousness is from Christ himself – not our own inadequate efforts. As we grow in faith, we exercise more and more of Christ's own righteousness – ours will never do.
We change over time as you pointed out – it is a process.
We must be led by Christ. We pray in faith for his righteousness and intercession. When we fail and fall short (breaking the law) we go right back to him for forgiveness and renewed power to obey. We don't wallow in our failures as if we have any way of solving them ourselves.
This is what the churches of God like the old WCG (which I grew up in) failed to fully convey. We sometimes said these things – but often fell back on sermons that stressed our own keeping of the law instead of pointing us directly back to Christ. As a result, some became confused, discouraged and felt constantly judged and inferior.
We are inferior. We admitted that at baptism. We know even the most righteous man is like a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6).
What a swap Christ makes with us – our sinful nature (under the deserved penalty of eternal death) with Christ's own righteousness (bringing the promise of eternal life). It is the swap of the ages – the greatest, most lopsided bargain of history. It is a bargain based on the love of God wich is without measure.
We should be in a constant state of giddy rejoicing and joy – and outflowing love to each other. That is the very sign Christ said would identify his disciples – their love for one another inspired and infused from Him.