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What the Bible says about Curse of the Law
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Galatians 3:5-11

Here, the subject is the role faith and works play in the justification process. This time, he uses Abraham as the model by which all his "children in the faith" also become "children of God." He begins by posing a question, which can be paraphrased as, "Do miracles come by ritual?" There is in this a veiled illusion to magic. Do miracles come by incantation? Do they come by knowing certain formulas that may include even such things as cutting the flesh or going through long periods of fasting or sufferings to get God's attention? Will God respond with a miracle out of pity once we show Him how humble and righteous we are? No, it does not work that way. Miracles come by a living God, who is actively working in our lives because He called us and we have faith in Him.

With that foundation, Paul begins what turns into the preamble for a very controversial section of Galatians. He proceeds to state that it was through faith that Abraham was justified. It is good to remember that Abraham not only believed who God is, but he also believed what God said. This is what set him apart from everybody else. His faith was not merely an intellectual agreement, but he also lived His faith.

Abraham's works did not win him acceptance by God, but they did prove to God that Abraham really did believe Him. So Paul says in verses 10-11 that those who rely on their works to justify them are under the curse of the law. What is "the curse of the law"? The death penalty! When one sins, he brings on himself the curse of the law he broke, which is death. In effect, he says that those who seek justifcation through works are still under the curse because justification by this means is impossible.

So powerful is the curse of the law that, when our sins were laid on the sinless Jesus Christ, the law claimed its due. Jesus died! Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26 to counteract those who were troubling the church, because they were saying that their asceticism, magic, and similar things (like keeping Halakah, the oral law and traditions of Judaism) could justify.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Six)

Galatians 3:13

Paul is not saying that the law is a curse, but that the law has a curse—death. Christ paid the penalty for our sins (Matthew 26:28; Romans 3:24-26), and so as long as we remain in the relationship with Him, we do not have to fear the eternal death that is the normal penalty for sin. II Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus Christ "became sin for us." He took all the sins of the world upon His sinless life and paid the penalty of death for them.

Galatians 3:10 shows that it is not the law that is a curse: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."

Deuteronomy 21:23 shows that a man who is hanged is accursed by God. That means that, if a man dies such an ignominious death, it is a sign that He has greatly displeased God. This is also why the people were not allowed to leave the body of the hanged person still hanging past sundown on a Sabbath day: It was an abomination—what the person did and what he was—and was supposed to be taken out of sight and buried. This fits in perfectly with Christ's sacrifice: He undeservedly took on all of the sins of mankind and as such the Father had to hide His face from Him. Christ was the epitome of one accursed at that point. True to form, He was also buried before sunset and arose again three days and three nights later on the Sabbath before sunset.

David C. Grabbe


 




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