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Freed from the Curse of the Law

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed. 11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. 12 But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. 14 The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14)

 

For Paul’s next defense against the Judaizers’ claim that one must earn salvation with works, Paul shows how the law cannot justify an individual; only grace can do so. Starting with verse 10, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26, “Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed.” Because no one can keep the law perfectly in all points, everyone is cursed. Therefore, the Judaizers’ claim that one could be justified by upholding the law alone is impossible and cannot be saved by works.

 

In verse 11, Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:4, “…the righteous will live by faith.” Paul uses this passage to show that even during the time of the law, people were deemed righteous by God through their faith in Him, and not by solely obedience. “No one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.” With verse 12, Max Anders summarizes it with this, “The works of the law and the faith of the gospel have radically different consequences.”

 

In verse 13, Paul states how Christ redeemed those who believe in Him by paying the price of breaking the law, becoming a curse, quoting Deuteronomy 21:23. The word “redeem” here means “to buy out of slavery by paying a price.” So, when Jesus died on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse that mankind so rightly deserved for being lawbreakers. Anders again states, “Through His substitutionary atonement, Christ paid the penalty of the curse. When we believe in Him, He frees us from the slavery of the law.”

 

Finally, in verse 14, through Christ’s work on the cross, two purposes were fulfilled. First, “the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles,” meaning that salvation through faith is made available to everyone who believes in Him. Second, “so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith,” that whoever believes in Christ as Lord and Savior will receive the Holy Spirit within them.

 

Because mankind could not uphold the law perfectly, we became cursed and doomed to pay the penalty of being lawbreakers, eternal separation from God, spiritual death. Yet, Christ took upon Himself our curse on the cross, paying the penalty, so that whoever believes in Him can be redeemed and have eternal life. We cannot earn our salvation through works, but only through faith in Jesus.

 

Blessings,

Isaac De Guzman

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