REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE
OF THE LAW
SCRIPTURE: Galatians 3:13, 14
This passage of Scripture brings together the spiritual principles involved in our salvation from sin-Christ, by being made a curse for us, has redeemed us from the curse of the law. This passage also sets forth our spiritual and moral state before we were redeemed by Christ-we were cursed. And it sets forth our present spiritual state as redeemed people-we are blessed with all the blessings of Abraham and have received the promised Holy Spirit. let us think about these various and related truths one by one.
REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE
The text says we who belong to Christ are redeemed from the curse of the law. The law spoken of here Is specifically the Ten Commandments. The moral requirements of the Ten Commandments represent the universal law of God and were incorporated into the larger legal code we commonly refer to as being the law of Moses. Since the law represents God’s moral demands of man, we should understand that the curse of the law Is the divine condemnation which comes upon mankind for breaking God’s moral law. The Bible declares that every person has broken God’s law: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Because all have sinned, until we are redeemed by Christ, all are under the curse of the law. Every person is condemned by the law, "for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). Since no person can give perfect obedience to God’s law, "by the deeds of the law [by doing the law] there shall no flesh [person] be justified in his [God’s] sight" (3:20). So, every person who is unredeemed by Christ is under the curse or condemnation of the law. Cursed by our own violations of God’s moral law-this is our spiritual state apart from redemption in Christ. The law cannot redeem us; it exposes the fact we are sinners and makes us aware of our need of the Savior, Jesus Christ. "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).
We are redeemed from the curse of the law, the condemnation for our sins, by faith in Jesus Christ. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.
For what the law could not do [that is, redeem man from sin], in that it was weak through the flesh [the weakness of the law was that sinful man breaks God’s law], God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh [as a man], and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh [condemned sin by his own holy life and death in a human body]: That the righteousness of the law [perfect obedience to God’s law] might be fulfilled [realized, made a fact by the imputation and impartation of Christ’s righteousness] in us, who walk not after the flesh [the sinful nature], but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1, 3, 4).
CHRIST WAS MADE A CURSE FOR US
Jesus Christ was not cursed because He was hanged upon the Cross. He was hanged upon the Cross because He was cursed by the law for bearing our sins. The statement, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13) is quoted from the passage in Deuteronomy 21:23. In ancient Israel, people were not killed by crucifixion, but the dead bodies of those executed for some capital offense were exposed upon trees or crosses as a sign of the curse of God which was upon them for their sin - "for he that is hanged is accursed of God" (v.23).
The fact that Jesus was crucified, hanged upon a tree, was an indication of the curse upon Him for our sins. The Prophet Isaiah understood that men would regard Jesus Christ as being cursed of God for sin. Isaiah prophesied,
"Surely he hath borne our grief’s, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions [our violations of God’s law]" (Isaiah 53:4, 5).
The language of the New ’Testament, describing what happened when Jesus was made a curse for us, is very strong and mysterious. The Bible says, "For he [God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, [Christ] who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [in Christ]" (2 Corinthians 5:21). The language is strong in that God made Christ to be sin for us. That is, when Christ died for our sins upon the Cross, all the sin of the human race was brought together in the person of Christ. There, God was able to judge all sin for all time by regarding His Son as the representative of all sinners.
The mystery of this language is that Christ who knew no sin, "became sin for us." Although Christ "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth," yet, "his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:22, 24). In some mysterious way, Christ became totally identified-as one-with our sinfulness in order that we might become as one with the righteousness of God. Christ was made a curse for us. He accepted the curse of the law for our sins in order that we might become righteous by faith in Him.
BLESSINGS THROUGH JESUS CHRIST
Because Christ was made a curse for us, who were cursed by the law, now we are blessed. Christ turned the curse into a blessing for us. What is the nature of our new blessed status in Jesus Christ? All the blessings of Abraham are upon us; that is, all the blessings promised to Abraham because of his faith in God are extended to all who believe in Jesus Christ.
Since the blessings of Abraham come upon us by faith in Jesus Christ, we must ask, What are these blessings? These blessings have to do primarily with Abraham’s relationship with God and his justification by faith. Of course, the blessings God pronounced upon Abraham included promises of land to his heirs, and promises of greatness for his descendants. However, Abraham saw these temporal blessings as being representative of God’s eternal kingdom and family. The Bible says of Abraham, "He looked for a city [community of believers] which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10).
Abraham and the other patriarchs of Israel lived by faith in God and fixed their hope upon things eternal. The Bible says of them, they "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth," and "they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly" (vv. 11:13, 16). The divine blessings upon Abraham were essentially "spiritual blessings" which also resulted in material and physical blessings for him and his descendants. These blessings had to do primarily with bringing Abraham into a right relationship with God because of his faith in God. "And he [Abraham] believed in the lord, and he [the lord] counted it to him [gave him credit for it] for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). This passage is cited in the New Testament in these words: "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted [credited] to him for righteousness" (Galatians 3:6).
Now what is the significance of all this? That Abraham was made righteous in the same way that Christians are made righteous-by faith in God. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). When we believe God-that is, when we accept by faith His provision of salvation through Christ - the blessings of Abraham come upon us. We are justified and made righteous by faith. We are no longer under the curse of the law or the condemnation of God. We are blessed. We are made right with God and we have the divine favor which is bestowed only upon those who are redeemed from the curse of the law. The blessings of Abraham embrace all the blessings of the Christian life- "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (1:3).
RECEIVING THE SPIRIT THROUGH FAITH
The New Testament leaves no doubt that the personal experience of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was extremely important to the early Christians. When some of the Christians at Galatia were tempted to depart from Christ, the Apostle Paul inquired of them, "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:2). No, we do not receive the Holy Spirit into our life by perfect obedience to God’s law-we break the law of God. We receive the Spirit in the New Birth and regeneration by faith in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. We receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus Christ who promised to give us the Spirit.
To anyone who reads the Book of Galatians, chapter 3, it is obvious that some of the Galatians were either defecting or being tempted to defect from Christ. What was the nature of this defection? It appears that false teachers had come among the Galatians, teaching them that they could be justified in the sight of God only by keeping the law of Moses. Acceptance of this teaching would have meant that the Galatians were no longer depending upon Christ for their salvation. Instead, they would have turned to trying to save themselves by works of righteousness. Thus it was that the Apostle Paul reminded the Galatians that the law cannot save because all have sinned and all are cursed by the law.
Our redemption from sin and our reception of the promised Holy Spirit come by faith in Jesus Christ. Christ became a curse for us upon the Cross so we could "receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:14).
Christ is all we need to be redeemed from sin and the condemnation of sin. Faith in Christ is all we need to transform our life so that we are made righteous by God. Jesus Christ is made to us all we need.