No Longer Under A Curse
Galatians 3:10, 13
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.”
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 words “law” and “curse” conjure up strong pictures in your mind and mine. Law makes me think of government and police officers, and curse makes me think of witches and magic, since those are the places in my life where the words come up most often. But I know innately that these verses in Galatians can’t be talking about either one of these pictures. What spiritual pictures does Paul actually want you and me to see? And deeper than that, as God speaks to our minds today – what hope and power of God are provided in these words, for our strengthening, that God wants us to picture and understand? God wants us to see everything differently in the next 24 hours because we’ve read these words and thought about them.
Let’s start with “curse” because it sounds the most interesting. You and I were born under a curse – that sounds fantastic – in the sense of “from a fantasy,” but it also sounds dark and a little creepy. Is this voodoo? What is the curse and who cursed us, some witch looking over the railing to our crib? A curse is a pronouncement that if we do something (like poke our finger on a spindle), then something terrible will happen (like dying). Well, the verses say everyone who doesn’t do everything perfectly that is written in the Book of the Law is cursed. Since the Book of the Law was written by God, the one who has cursed us is...God. And what is our curse? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:22 that just getting angry or calling someone an “idiot” breaks the law and the judgment, or curse, is “the hell of fire.” Who is able to go a full week without anger or the occasional put down? What a standard and what a consequence! Jesus himself is God’s law enforcer and those cursed to hell will be there in torment for eternity. So, the picture God wants to convey is that the law is everything God has told us to do and the curse we live under is not just a little creepy. If we get the real picture in our minds, it’s terrifying.
With that fixed in our minds, we’re now ready to add the words of Galatians 3:13. God tells us that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” – and that his physical act of hanging on the cross is where our curse was lifted and placed on him. The song How Deep the Father’s Love says that we see “our sin upon his shoulders”. This is sounding really good, but it’s even better than you think because there are two parts to us no longer being under a curse!
The first part of being cursed is that no matter how hard we try – including the people who lock themselves in convents and monasteries and deprive and beat themselves, which I think is harder than you’re trying – no matter how hard we try, most of what comes out of us is the list of things listed below in Galatians 5:19-21.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
How tragic to want to stop doing all of these horrible things, but be unable to, because you’re cursed. That is the first part of our curse.
The second part of the curse is waiting in prison for our punishment for being this way. Whether it’s waiting for a parent to come back and punish us, waiting in a courtroom for the judgment against our wrong, or the extreme case of those waiting on death row for their final day of life, waiting for a punishment is awful. The anticipation of pain and the look in our parent’s or the judge’s face puts a knot in our throat and a pit in our stomach. But according to Galatians 3:13, Christ redeemed us – so the second part of the curse is lifted in its entirety. There is no punishment left for us to wait for, our sins are draped around his neck and the only hard part is watching him receive the lashes, blows, and wrath of God. But we feel joy because we couldn’t stand the crushing weight and it would never have been lifted. We are free from this curse forever!
More than that, he also freed us from the first part of the curse. Galatians 5:22-24 shows us that when Jesus died, he not only removed the curse of our punishment, he crucified our flesh and gave us the Spirit of God. We’re no longer cursed as slaves to the acts of the flesh: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” This curse is also lifted, and look at what is able to flow from us now and define our relationships: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control”.
The curse is broken. The curse is lifted...and placed on him. There is no dread of the curse. There is no hopelessness from the curse. There is power in the Spirit, there is freedom and joy and life – so let us rejoice and live this reality that is ours!