Galatians 3.10-14 – A Curse

Today Paul continues to make the point that it is faith, not works, that allows us to be accepted by God. He starts by showing how illogical it is to trust the law for salvation. He says simply that the law is an all or nothing affair: break one bit of it and you are guilty of breaking it all. This might seem harsh, but it’s akin to saying that because you’ve been pulled over for speeding, you are guilty of breaking the traffic law of the land (one offence in a broader system). The law, as a whole system, is a curse when viewed salvifically (in terms of salvation) because it simply can never be entirely kept and therefore never used to be justified before God (vv.10-11). 

Divine acceptance (justification)

can never come from human effort (keeping the law).

How about mixing a little law with a little faith then? Paul writes that the law is not of faith so, simply, there is no combination that will ever work (cf. James 2.10). 

This all sounds pretty bleak doesn’t it: under the law you are essentially cursed and unable to reach salvation. But, there is hope.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith. 

(vv.13-14, NET)

Into the hopelessness of the situation comes Jesus. He redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. Theologically, we are talking here about substitutionary atonement which very simply means what Paul wrote: that Jesus took the place of and paid the price for the law-breaking sinner.

Paul now comes full circle (v.9) and gives a reason for all of this. He writes that Jesus did this so that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith. 

For you and for me, Jesus died on that cross to allow you to receive the blessing of justification and the promise of the Spirit. Paul’s main point is that all of this comes by faith and not by works. There is nothing you can ever do to earn this or to deserve this. There is nothing you can ever do to achieve this alone. 

Rather than put yourself in a hopeless position of trying to work and earn your justification and your salvation stop and remember what Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia: Christ redeemed us. 

In a world where you are constantly told that if you work hard enough, if you think positively enough, if you want it badly enough then you can make it happen, you will never affect your salvation. The Good News is that you don’t need to. Step away from the mindset of earning and deserving and into one of believing and receiving. Jesus did for you what you could never do for yourself, He redeemed you from the curse of the law. Trust that. Accept that. Believe that. Take hope for today and for the future from that. 

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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