Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Christ Is the End (τέλος) of the Law for Believers

Last week I spent some time with a gambling addict, a believer in Jesus Christ, who recently found himself on the front page of our local newspaper for confessing to embezzling thousands of dollars from his employer (he's given me permission to tell his story).

A few weeks earlier this man had called me and confessed to his crime.

Having been accused of embezzlement by his employer, this man told me that he faced prison time if the courts convicted him of stealing. His attorney counseled him "not to confess, but to plead 'not guilty.'" The attorney was hoping to get a reduced sentence that could possibly include no prison time."

This man asked me, "What should I do?"

I responded, "Are you guilty?"

He answered "Yes."

I said, "Then go to the police station, turn yourself in, and tell them the truth."

He did.

His picture and the story of his confession appeared on the front page of our paper the following day.

Very few criminals turn themselves in and confess to a crime. To me, what this man did is evidence that God's grace is at work within him.

Anyway, back to the appointment with the gambling addict after his public exposure in the paper.

He told me he thinks he finally has come to an understanding of "why" he gambles.

Pay attention.
"Throughout my life, I've always had the goal of people liking me. I need people to accept and love me. I purpose to get acceptance from others. But most of the time I feel rejected. I feel lacking as a human being. Whenever I feel like a failure (which is most days), and whenever I feel rejected by people (which is very often), I find myself desiring to gamble. It's finally dawned on me that every time I win at the casino, lights go off, people praise me, and I get the "substitute high" of being good enough and being "approved of" as a human. I feel like a "winner," whereas in life I most often feel like a loser.  I'm not giving you an excuse for my gambling addiction; I'm only telling you that I believe I've put my finger on the source of why I gamble."
Wise words indeed.

I believe if all of us will take a close look at any maladjustments in our lives, we'll find the roots of our problems in our misplaced goals and purpose.

I tell people all the time:
"If you ever think, 'I just don't want people to think,' or if you ever say 'I don't want you to feel,' then you have a misplaced goal."
Those who are concerned and try to control what other people think or feel are addicts in waiting. And by the way, addiction to sugar, religion, beauty, work, and other legal (and good things) can be as harmful to the individual person as addictions to gambling, drugs, illicit sex, and other illegal things are. It should go without saying that the latter things (eg. "illegal things") often bring far greater pain to other persons.

With Wrong Goals and Purpose in Place, People Become Addicted

Everyone knows what goals and purpose are.

We all set goals, and we all think about purpose.

Without goals and purpose, a person becomes aimless. 

With wrong goals and purpose, a person becomes addicted.

Now, let's talk about our goals in terms of God.

What is your goal spiritually? What is your purpose in terms of your relationship with God?

99% of all people would respond to those two questions by saying:
 "My purpose is to be pleasing to God."
Then, when it comes to "how" one is pleasing to God, the answer is usually:
 "By doing what He commands."
I propose to you that any attempt to please God by obedience to His standards is a wrong goal that leads to addictions. 

To seek to become pleasing to God by your actions is a misplaced purpose.

You already are pleasing to God through the Christ, who is the end of the law to everyone who believes, for it is written:
"For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4). 

"But wait," you may say, "I read the Bible for myself and it says that God's acceptance, blessings, and favor are on us when we obey His Law!"

"Listen to this, Wade!"
"If you obey the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your livestock, both the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out…. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you. The Lord will open for you his rich storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all your undertakings." (Deuteronomy 28:2-7; 11–12)
"And Wade, listen to these three paragraphs from the Law":
"However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. 
The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your countryinto dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.
The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you." (Detueronomy 28:15-29). 
"Wade Burleson, how can you read those two passages above and ever suggest to anyone that attempting to please God by a goal of obedience to Law is a misplaced goal or a meaningless purpose in life?"

Good question.

Let the New Covenant Scriptures answer that question:

Christ Is the End
"For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4). 

The word translated "end" is the Greek word τέλος which was used by ancient Greek writers to mean goal or purpose.

Most of the anti-Nicene Christian fathers (pre-3rd century AD) translated τέλος as "goal" or "purpose." 

What does it mean that Christ "is the goal or purpose of the Law"? 

Simply put:
"Jesus Christ is God's consummate goal and purpose for which God gave the Law."
The Law's purpose was not given for you to obey and to become "pleasing to God."


 In fact, when God introduced the Law, all that did was make you a worse sinner by revealing even more of your sin.
"I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the Law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the Law had not said, 'You shall not covet'" (Romans 7:7). 
Any church, religious organization, or lifestyle that emphasizes obedience to Law to be pleasing to God has missed the Gospel. 

Christ is the purpose of the Law to everyone who believes.

The Law is about Him.

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:24).
So if you wish to ever be free from addictions in this life (legal or illegal), then get an understanding that you are pleasing to God by the performance and Person of Jesus the Anointed One (Messiah) on your behalf. 

Theologians call this imputed righteousness.

I call it living life feeling the pleasure of God independent of my performance.
"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 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 on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:7-11). 


Doug Martin said...

Careful with this blog because if read, it may result in a tidal wave of GRACE that will breach the dams of RELIGIOUS GUILT that prevent many Christians from realizing their blood bought inheritance of freedom for this life as well as the endless life to come. If enough Christians grasp their genuine identity in Christ, the witness of this apprehended GRACE might even result in another Great Awakening as unbelievers are jarred awake out of their spiritual lethargy by the sounds of joyful hearts that CELEBRATE JESUS in validatation of their attempts to evangelize a culture.

Wade Burleson said...


Christiane said...

"Christ is the purpose of the Law to everyone who believes.
The Law is about Him."


"25 There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Him and said,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
27 He said in reply,
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”
28 He replied to him,
“You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
29 But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied,

“A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho . . . . . . . . "

Rex Ray said...

Today’s TV News told this story:
“Stained-glass windows honoring some religious leaders who helped shift the Southern Baptist Convention to a more conservative stance have been removed from a North Texas chapel.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Wednesday that the windows featured dismissed Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson. He was fired last May amid criticism of his responses to rape allegations made years apart by two students.
Seminary board officials criticized Patterson for his email to campus security in 2015 saying he wanted to meet alone with a student who said she'd been raped, to "break her down."
Patterson also was criticized for contradictory responses about his review of a student's rape allegation in 2003 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina

Rex Ray said...


I’m having a hard time understanding the point of this post. It seems you’re comparing apples to oranges.

I wrote the comment about Patterson’s picture being removed before I ever read this post. I did it because I wanted it to be noticed.

I see now it doesn’t ‘fit’ your post because it illustrates “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23) My Dad had a saying: “You’ve made your bed; now lay in it!”

Years ago, doctors didn’t know what caused pain in my back so bad I couldn’t get out of bed. My Dad pointed his finger at me and said, “What sin have you done that God is punishing you?”

I was angry and said, “NOTHING, DADDY, NOTHING!

But later, I realized I’d disregarded a rule to use a ‘chain hoist’ to lift 160 pound forgings that were machined into hooks that stopped planes landing on aircraft carriers.

Today, Judy went to Dallas to visit her sick brother who’s “hook” had missed the cable and he ended up in the ocean. Wonder if it was one of ‘my hooks’. :)

Wade Burleson said...


The point of my post in a sentence: "Until you feel the pleasure and approval of God for you through faith in the Person and work of Christ, you'll be inclined to seek the feelings of pleasure and approval through substitute pleasures in activities you perform."

Rex Ray said...


Ah, your statement:

“The point of my post in a sentence: "Until you feel the pleasure and approval of God for you through faith in the Person and work of Christ, you'll be inclined to seek the feelings of pleasure and approval through substitute pleasures in activities you perform.”

That sums up my confusion because I (and probably most people) have always tried to seek the feelings of pleasure and approval through pleasures in activities before and after I became a Christian.

Notice I left out “substitute” in your statement because only God knows who is doing the ‘substituting’.

Many lost people believe they are Christians when they’re not:

“On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you…” (Matthew 7:22-23 NLT)

Victorious said...

I call it living life feeling the pleasure of God independent of my performance.

One verse before the one Rex Ray posted in Matthew 7:22-23, it seems to place great importance of performance.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." Matt. 7:21 (NASB)

Mary Ann

Christiane said...

If the discussion is about the CHOICE to obey one's conscience 'or not and still it's okay';
then I might better understand the discussion, sure.

I don't know if that is the jist of the post, though.

If the command is to 'love', and if love is 'seeking the good of the other for the sake of the other with no thought for self reward', then we are talking about 'selfless service' in imitation of Our Lord.

What frightens me these days is the adulation of many who say that are 'Christian' of those who seek to harm innocent people and children. I know these Christians are responding to fear, but there is a need when they see the suffering of innocents to SPEAK UP AND SPEAK OUT against it, least their silence be taken as being complicit. Is there a cost to speaking out? Yes, there is. And it can be severe. But to remain silent is not an option for a Christian people when those who are innocent around them are being persecuted.

In my own thinking, this is a MORAL question, because it is a matter of MORAL CONSCIENCE. For some Christian people, they will 'turn away and say nothing' because they think that the suffering of innocents is a 'political matter'. This is what I know: if a Christian person can watch a child being abused and tormented and still think they can keep silent about it, that they have no 'response-ability', I have to wonder about the state of their 'moral consciences', and what they have been 'taught' that distances them from the pain and suffering of a small child, when by speaking out, the Christian might have made a difference.


And who is my neighbor? These are sad times and I think Christian people ARE being 'tested' to make moral choices in response to 'what love is' and in response to what loving others demands from us as 'human persons made in the image of God'

But I don't know is 'moral conscience' is a part of the discussion. I may not have understood.