Galatians 3:10-14 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall 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 hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
The Apostle wants us to understand his relationship to the gospel. First, Paul affirms that he received his message from Christ himself. He was not subject to any other man or any organization only to Christ. He also wanted us to grasp the concept that the gospel was not just a New Testament thing. The gospel came long before the law. His moving away from the Mosaic law was a valid spiritual step. Paul needed to remind the Galatians that their turning back to the rules of Moses was completely invalid. In fact, the gospel has set us free from the bondage to sin and gives us victory over the flesh.
The entire letter to the Galatians is an exhortation to come back to the gospel. Since the Galatian church had begun to return to the law of Moses…
Paul saw the Galatians as “foolish”! Look back to Galatians 3:1. O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
I realize that Jesus instructed us not to call a person a fool. However, even people who are protected from being called a fool sometimes do foolish things. No one is exempt from having taken the foolish route at some point in their life. The problem was that the Galatians, in their foolishness, were moving away from the simple gospel that had been presented to them.
Even though they would not have been present when Jesus was crucified Paul reminds them that, in his preaching, they had seen the banner spread before their eyes that said, “Jesus came into the world, lived a perfect life, and took our sins to the cross”. That is the simple truth of the gospel. Jesus, born of a virgin, lived without sin, took our punishment, died in our place, defeated death and came back to life to give us life. The Galatians needed to respond to the question…
How did they begin their faith life? Let’s read in Galatians 3:2. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
How were they born again? Was it by obeying the law of Moses or by believing in Jesus Christ God’s son and our Savior! When we believed — leading to confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord — the Holy Spirit came to give us life! In fact, that was the very reason that Jesus came into the world. Satan came to steal, kill and destroy everything spiritually good in us while Jesus came to give us life abundantly! When the Galatians, or anyone else, came to salvation in Christ they/we received that spiritual life by hearing the word of God and believing the truth.
You see, faith is not a leap in the dark! It is not believing against all reasonable truth. Faith is trusting in God and depending on God because we believe what he has said in his word.
When a person is converted they turn from sin to Christ. This is done because we have come to believe what God says about sin. Saving faith is more than mere knowledge. It is necessary we have some knowledge of who Christ is and what he has done. But knowledge of the facts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for us is not enough. People can know facts but rebel against them or even dislike them. Many people know God’s laws but rebel against them. Even the demons believe that God exists but they remain demons. Saving faith is not believing about Christ but instead, it is depending on Christ for my spiritual life. Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God!
This is not just a New Testament concept along with Paul…
We look back to Abraham. Let’s turn to Genesis 12:1-3. Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
As you read this amazing statement by God we need to realize several things. First, Abram — who would later be called Abraham — did not have any written Bible that we know of. Second, he did not grow up in a family that worshiped Yahweh. Third, he had spent much of his life (so far as we know) without an awareness of Yahweh. But when the right time came God spoke to him and directed him to repent, turning away from his past, and respond to God’s directions for him. And God promised that he would bless Abraham and make his name great. God promised that Abraham would be a blessing. God promised that he would bless those who blessed Abraham! And he also promised that he would curse those who dishonored Abraham.
But of greatest importance to us, God promised Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed because of Abraham’s faith. Notice that it was not because of obedience to some kind of laws but it was a matter of faith. After faith came Abraham made many positive decisions in obedience to God. But those decisions he made did not save him! His faith was counted to him as righteousness. We might assume that there were others all over the world who came to faith in God in the same manner. For example, Melchizedek was the king of Salem and priest of the Most High God. This great King appeared in a single incident in Abraham’s life. Later, Moses would become the son-in-law of Jethro, the priest of Midian. We cannot be positive that Jethro worshiped the Yahweh as Moses did but there was no rejection of the idea that he could provide advice to Moses as he led the people of Israel through the wilderness. Now let’s look back to Galatians to see that…
Abraham received the gospel. Let’s read Galatians 3:8-9. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The gospel, Paul tells us, was preached to Abraham. Now, what exactly does that mean? Modern man tends to think that the “gospel” must include all the elements: all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and yet God demonstrates his love for us by sending his son to die on the cross (Romans 5:8), and, if we will confess with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). Such a comprehensive explanation would have been an amazing idea to Abraham.
Instead, the gospel preached to Abraham was simply, “In you shall all the nations be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). That gospel was all that was needed and in fact, is still all that is needed! The blessing that came for all people everywhere is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! He came as a result of the promise. While Abraham walked on this earth having in his genetic makeup the human body of Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, and after multiple generations, Jesus was born of Mary and descended from David the king. The blessing is given through Abraham’s faith counteracted…
The curse on humanity. Let’s look back to Genesis 2:16-17. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Adam walked and talked with God on a daily basis and yet when tempted by Satan he ate of the tree that had been denied to him. When Adam rebelled against God, becoming the first sinner, as our representative God counted us guilty along with him. Adam’s guilt belongs to us because God imputed Adam’s guilt to us. We may not like being represented by Adam. But we should never hesitate to be represented by Jesus! Our first representative sinned and God counted us guilty. Christ, the representative of all who believe in him, obeyed God perfectly and God counted us righteous. That is the way God set up the human race to work. Let’s look ahead to Romans 6:23. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Granted that we have all sinned, we recognize that sin’s pay is death! Just as none can escape sin as part of our lifestyle so we cannot escape death as its consequence! Adam and Eve did not immediately die in the garden but they certainly began to die. God had said that they would surely die and they surely did! However, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We must be eternally grateful that…
Jesus redeemed us. Let’s return to Galatians 3:13. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” The curse of the law is death — physical and spiritual. Jesus became a curse for us. Or, as we see in 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made Christ to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God! Peter supported this same concept. We are all under the curse! But Jesus took the curse for us. Let’s see what Peter had to say in 1 Peter 2:24. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
The blood of bulls and goats that had been the payment for sin in the Old Testament really did not bring forgiveness. All of those acts look forward to Jesus and his obedience to the Father. Jesus died to sin once for all and when we place our faith in him the guilt, bequeathed by Adam, is removed from the human race. We cannot free ourselves from the curse. No matter how good we are we remain Adam’s heirs! But Jesus act of righteousness enables us to die to sin and live to righteousness.
It is a very cheap thing to attempt to appropriate Jesus’ death on the cross only for physical healing. There was a much greater blessing that came to the human race through Jesus’ obedience. By his death on the cross, we receive much more than most people imagine. Jesus died and rose again…
In order that we might receive the blessing. Let’s read in Galatians 3:14. So that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Becoming the righteousness of God, in Jesus, enables us to receive all the blessings in Scripture. By faith in Christ we are able to be united to Abraham the man of faith.
With grateful hearts, we should come to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We should rejoice that he took our sins to the cross and nailed them there. He took our sin to the grave and left it there. He was raised from the dead in order to set us free. The writer of Hebrews tells us that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Jesus came into the world to do the will of the Father! In the garden of Gethsemane, he gave up his rights to himself for us. Jesus prayed for the Father to take the cup of suffering from him. Nevertheless, he would do the Father’s will and die in our place. Have you accepted him as your Lord? Does your faith tell you to believe that God raised him from the dead? They can be your day of salvation!
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.