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Gal. 3.10-14: Curse or No Curse Print E-mail
Sunday, 30 April 2006

by youth pastor Michael Moyers
Good morning.  We are going to continue our theme in Galatians and show that justification is by faith alone in Jesus the Christ.  The text will argue this point from the perspective of the Law and show that the righteous will get eternal life by faith alone.  As we look at the text, we will be faced with two paths in the Christian life:  the first option in life is the road of the Jewish Law or Rules. 

For the modern church person that would be a works based acceptance from God, which leads to a cursed life and no hope at all.  The second option is the road of faith which is based on the finished work of Christ and not on our own abilities.  This second path leads to hope for you and me.  In writing Galatians, Paul has been arguing that once Jesus has set you free from your sins why would you put yourself back under the bondage of the Law?  Also, remember our past lessons that pointed out that God had declared Abraham righteous before the law even existed.

Let’s stand and read Galatians 3.10-14:

“10. All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”  11. Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”  12. The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”  13. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  14.  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

In verse 10, Paul quotes from Deut. 27.26.  Please turn there and let’s read it.  26. “Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.”  Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”.    Contrary to the claim of the Judaizers or certain Jewish Christians that any Gentile desiring to become a Christian must first become a Jew,  it’s obvious that men and women can’t possibly keep the law.  The law cannot save us from our sins.  The law can’t get rid of our sin, it can only point a finger at the guilty.  Breaking even one commandment brings person under condemnation.  And because everyone has broken the commandments, everyone stands condemned.  To take the path of works to gain life will ultimately lead to a cursed life.

In verse 11, there is another Old Testament reference from Hab. 2.4.  Let’s turn there and read from this prophet.  “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright- but the righteous will live by his faith.”   No question we are made right or stand innocent in a right relationship with a Holy God because of our faith and not by keeping the law.  Trying to be right with God by our own effort doesn’t work.  Good intentions such as “I’ll never do that again” or “I’ll try harder next time” usually end in failure.

In v.12, the way of faith and the way of the law are very different.  Faith is not based on the law.  You’re going to live by one or the other, but according to Lev. 18.5, the law must be fully obeyed.  Please turn there and take a look at what I’m talking about.
“keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.  I am the Lord.”  What is the Law?  It is a set of rules that govern life set forth by God in the Old Testament.  There were three categories of laws:  ceremonial law – this kind of law relates to Israel’s worship (Lev. 1.1-13).  Its primary purpose was to point forward to Jesus Christ.  These laws are no longer necessary because of Jesus’ death and resurrection; however, we should not ignore them because the principles behind them to worship and praise a Holy God still apply.  Civil law – this law dictated Israel’s daily living (Deut. 24) and the principles behind should guide our conduct.  Moral law – this kind of law is the direct command of God.  An example of this is the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20.1-17).
In verse 13, Jesus delivered us out from the impossible system of the law.  Turn to Deut. 21.22-23.  “If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight.  Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.  You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.”  We now know the law brings a curse, but look at what an incredible thing Jesus does for us.  Jesus as an innocent man actually became a curse by hanging on a tree (cross).  What is the curse?  Simply put it is the judgment of God.  Jesus became a curse for us.  The curse which we rightly deserve was transferred from us to Him.

The curse is a spiritual reality that we face.  It is as real and as hopeless as the hopelessness that the Jews faced in the concentration camps during WWII.  I’ve heard that when a prisoner was sent to the camps, that they would be moved from one set of barracks to the next one in succession over a period of time.  Each move would bring them closer to their death at the last row of barracks.  Rumors would make their way back to the other prisoners.  Their impending doom was a constant reminder of their fate.  Do you remember seeing those pictures of the children wearing the prison uniforms while standing at the perimeter fence with a far off stare of complete defeat in their eyes? What will get you through the spiritual despair?  It’s got to be more than just keeping the Law.  And why would you put yourself back under the law once you’ve been set free?

Since Jesus became the curse for us, v14 shows that His sacrifice made it possible for us to have the same blessing as Abraham.  When we repent and put our faith and trust in Jesus, we have the promise of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  One proof of the changed life is the indwelling Spirit which works a complete transformation in us.  Our attitudes and motives are significantly different.  Take a look at Matt. 7.16  “By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”

The central questions are before us:  Why would Christians trust in their own abilities and put themselves back under the curse of the law which leads to frustration and doubt, when Jesus has set them free?  And why wouldn’t those who don’t have a personal relationship with God repent and turn from their sins and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?  The doer will try to manage himself and perform to gain God’s approval but the doer can never live up to perfection and his life is under a cloud of doom with no hope or purpose.  In contrast the believer realizes that only God can justify him.  We must trust in the fact that Jesus did all the work on the cross.  What does this look like in real life?

I met a new customer recently.  His name was “Wild” Bill Turner and he was arguably one of the toughest guys to come out of the Poplar Bluff Mules football program.  He played linebacker as a Mule and was a contemporary of James Wilder during his senior year in 1976.  Wild Bill went on to play for the Mizzou Tigers in Columbia.  As we went into his office we had the usual pleasantries and coffee was served for all present except for me. 

Lynn Schummacher from New Orleans launched into her spiel about her Group Purchasing Organization when Wild Bill said, “hold up darlin’, I want to know who you are.”  Lynn launches into the history of her company and once again Wild Bill stops her and says, “I want to know who you are as a person.  I want to know with whom I’m dealing.”  Then the question was directed toward me and after forty minutes of football exploits between the two of us plus our commonality in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,  Wild Bill looks at Lynn as says, “I have two concerns: can I trust you and will you save me money in my business.”  Then he looks at Lynn and asks, “Are you a Christian?”  She replies, “Yes, I am.”  “I know you are I can just tell.”  His concerns were met and as the meeting was concluding he asked, “Can we pray together?”  “Moyers, will you pray?”

Wild Bill said that God changed his heart and life.  I perceived that he was motivated not by trying to gain God’s approval but by his realization of how a loving and Holy God has shown unbelievable favor to him.

Wild Bill knows who took the curse on his behalf.  He understands that when Jesus said in John 14.6, “I Am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  So my question to you this morning is: curse or no curse?  Which road will you travel? 

~ Michael Moyers ~

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