Mission Accomplished! - Galatians 3:10-14
Galatians 3:10-14; Deuteronomy 27:11-26, 28:15-45; Matthew 25:41&46; Galatians 4:4-5; Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 1:3&7; Colossians 1:13-14; Revelation 15:3-4
Mission-Accomplished_09-18-2011.mp3 — MP3 audio, 12089 kB (12379219 bytes)
Once upon a time, there was a very evil Canadian who liked to tie up a pretty young lady by the name of Nell and place her on the railroad tracks. I’m not sure why. But invariably, a fine, upstanding, and dim witted Royal Canadian Mountie by the name of Dudley Do-Right, along with his trusty steed “Horse” (also dressed in a red Mountie uniform and hat), would arrive just in time, typically by accident, to save Nell from a rather gruesome fate. Consequently, the evil villain, Snidely Whiplash by name, would twirl his mustache and utter the phrase, “Curses! Foiled again!”
Because the intended audience for this program was very young viewers, and because it was a long time ago, Mr. Whiplash would use the word “curses”, to allude to what he was thinking, rather than actually state those thoughts aloud. And most of us understand what constitutes actual curse words. Sometimes we call them swear words. They are found in speech that causes movies to be rated PG-13 and R. Actually, they are found in all movies and all TV programs and even in casual conversations among children. Such language has become so common in everyday speech that it is seldom even recognized as cursing today.
In our study of the third chapter of Galatians, the apostle Paul says, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse." What does it mean to be under a curse? It doesn’t just mean people are saying R-rated things about you and your relatives. But when Snidely Whiplash utters the word ”Curses!” in the direction of Dudley Do-Right, he gives us a little glimpse into what this idea of cursing really means. Paul says, in Galatians 3:10, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” So what does it mean to be cursed? Look with me at Deuteronomy 27, the text Paul is quoting from here in Galatians.
11 That day Moses charged the people, saying, 12 “When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13 And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14 And the Levites shall declare to all the men of Israel in a loud voice:
15 “ ‘Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the Lord, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’
16 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
17 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
18 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
19 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
20 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s nakedness.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
21 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who lies with any kind of animal.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
22 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
23 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his mother-in-law.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
24 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who strikes down his neighbor in secret.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
25 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
26 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deut. 27:11-26 ESV)
Here are 12 statements of God’s curse upon the people of Israel just before they enter into the Promised Land if they do not obey God’s Law. The tribe of Levi stood between the 12 tribes of Israel, half on Mt. Gerizim and half on Mt. Ebal. The Levites would then pronounce these 12 words and Israel would confirm them by shouting “Amen!” in response to each one. Verse 26 pronounces the final universal curse on anyone, not just the children of Israel, who does not obey the Law of God.
But this still doesn’t answer the question, “What does it mean to be cursed?” This only states the conditions for being cursed of God. Paul quotes verse 26 in Galatians 3 and applies it not only to the Jews, but to all men everywhere. He says, “Cursed is EVERYONE” meaning both Jews and Gentiles, “who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
So what Paul is saying is everybody everywhere is already cursed. No one keeps the whole Law. But we want to know what being cursed looks like. Just how bad is it to be cursed by God? Well, the short answer is, “very, very bad”. For the rather long and painful answer, look at Deuteronomy 28.
15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. 16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. 17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
20 “The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. 21 The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 22 The Lord will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. 23 And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away. 27 The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed. 28 The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind, 29 and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you. 30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat any of it. Your donkey shall be seized before your face, but shall not be restored to you. Your sheep shall be given to your enemies, but there shall be no one to help you. 32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless. 33 A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, 34 so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see. 35 The Lord will strike you on the knees and on the legs with grievous boils of which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.
36 “The Lord will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone. 37 And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the Lord will lead you away. 38 You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall eat them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off. 41 You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity. 42 The cricket shall possess all your trees and the fruit of your ground. 43 The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
45 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. (Deut. 28:15-45 ESV)
That is what it means to be cursed. It is God’s complete removal of every blessing, and the sending of every trouble. The first 14 verses of this chapter are the exact opposite of all these curses. For those who would obey God’s law, the blessings are virtually endless. So both blessing and cursing come from God based upon our obedience to all of His Law. But Paul says, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” But the final and ultimate expression of God’s curse is given by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 25:
“Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. And these will go away into eternal punishment . . ..” (Matthew 25:41&46 ESV).
The ultimate curse of God upon those who do not obey His entire Law is an eternal curse: punishment in the eternal fire. Yes, it is separation from God. But more specifically, it is separation from any and every blessing God has to give. It is the absence not of God’s person, but of anything that could be described as good. And that is the future of all men everywhere because all have sinned and fallen short of obeying all things written in the Book of the Law.
Unless . . . God makes a way of escape. He has. The escape from the curse of God is actually quite simple. It is obtained through faith in Jesus Christ. This is not complicated. We are saved from the wrath to come, the eternal curse of God, by trusting in the Savior whom He sent into the world for this specific purpose. Look with me at Galatians 3.
10 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. (Galatians 3:10-14 ESV).
Now pay particular attention to verse 13 - Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. We understand what the curse of the Law is: death and hell. Through faith in the promise of God to send a Messiah, Abraham was redeemed from that curse, as are we. We have been purchased out from under the curse of God’s Law by means of His Son. God made Christ to be a curse for us. God the Father cursed and crushed His own Son for us. Through His hanging of the Lord Jesus upon the cross, God cursed Him, and redeemed us by the blood of His own Son.
The technical term for this is Substitutionary Atonement. Jesus Christ was cursed by God for us. The non-technical term for this is “Wow”. We saw in Deuteronomy just how much God hates sin. Those who do not obey every word of his Law will be cursed, and ultimately, every trace of anything that could remotely be considered a blessing from God will be permanently removed forever. It is inconceivable to think of one day without the common grace of God towards men. But to have all blessing removed and to live eternally under the wrath of God with the complete absence of any manner of blessing at all, is unfathomably awful.
God, in His kindness and mercy, chose to have His own Son become a curse in the place of all who believe. Notice verse 11. Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Faith in what? Faith in God to make Jesus Christ the scapegoat, faith that He is the satisfactory substitute, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, your sin and my sin, the sin of Jews and Gentiles alike, the sin of all who believe. The righteous live by their faith in God’s satisfaction with His own redeeming work through Christ in our place.
Now let’s read verses 13 and 14 without the parenthetical statement in the middle in order to get the flow of what Paul says here:
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us— . . . 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.
Christ redeemed us - This is not speculation on Paul’s part. Paul does not say, “We hope that Christ redeemed us,“ or ”We trust that Christ redeemed us.” This is not a word of prophecy, that Christ will someday redeem us. “Christ redeemed us” is a statement of historical fact. When Jesus Christ hung on the cross and was made a curse for us by the Father, He redeemed us. That is what He did there. He purchased us out of our accursed state. He accomplished the mission of redemption.
Jesus did not just make redemption possible. He did not simply make salvation available. Jesus did not do everything he could, while leaving the final decision for our redemption up to us. When Jesus died, He saved His people from their sins. He bought us by His blood.
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 TO REDEEM those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us TO REDEEM US from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)
7 In him [Christ] we HAVE redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (Ephesians 1:7 ESV)
13 He [the Father] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we HAVE redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV)
Paul goes on to say the Lord Jesus redeemed us so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles. He redeemed us from the curse in order to bless us! And He redeemed Gentiles so that we might be blessed the same way Abraham was blessed by God - with justification. Abraham was justified in the sight of God. Paul defines more precisely what that blessing looks like in Ephesians 1.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places….
What is the blessing of Abraham that Christ has secured for believing Gentiles? EVERY spiritual blessing! It is the exact opposite of the curse of God. While those who remain in their rebellious unbelief will ultimately be deprived of even the least possible blessing in hell:
- we who have believed,
- we who have been redeemed by the substitution of Christ as a curse for us,
- we who have been justified in God’s sight because of faith in Him,
We are given every possible blessing God has to give, every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. In Deuteronomy 28, the list of curses was exhaustive!
Cursed shall you be in the city, in the field, in your basket and your kneading bowl, in your womb and the fruit of your ground, in your herds and the young of your flock. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. Pestilence will stick to you. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease and fever and inflammation and fiery heat, with drought and blight and mildew. The heavens shall be bronze, and the earth shall be iron. The Lord will make the rain of your land powder.
“The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with incurable tumors and scabs and itch. The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion. You shall be oppressed and robbed continually and no one will help you. Your wives shall be ravished by other men, your houses will be stolen from you, I will curse your vineyards and your oxen and your donkey and your sheep and your children. I will drive you mad.
You will be ruled over by idolatrous nations. Locusts will eat your crops. Worms will eat your vineyards. The olives shall fall from your trees. Your children will be given into captivity. Insects will consume everything. Aliens will rise up over you and you will be indebted to them.
For the rebellious and unbelieving, EVERYTHING is cursed! God promises to withhold every blessing from Israel for their desertion of His Law. But these are only types and shadows of the final and ultimate curse of hell upon all men everywhere.
But for the righteous, for all those who have been justified by faith, All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you. Blessed shall you be in the city and in the field, the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock and your basket and your kneading bowl and when you come in and when you go out.
Your enemies will be defeated. Your barns and all that you undertake will be blessed. Your lands and your people will be blessed. All the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. You will abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and your livestock and your ground. The heavens, will give the rain and bless all the work of your hands. You shall lend and not borrow.
For those who believe God like Abraham did, who trust Him to justify the ungodly by faith in Christ, EVERYTHING is blessed! The curse is removed because it has been borne by Christ for us. And all these blessings which God promised to Israel if they would keep His law are mere types and shadows and symbols of the everlasting and unlimited heavenly blessings that belong to all the redeemed from every tongue and tribe and nation who have been declared righteous and have been justified by faith. We who believe the gospel of the Lord Jesus are blessed with the blessing of Abraham, being declared righteous in God’s sight just like he was.
Finally, Paul says we’re blessed in this way so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. This is the Spirit of God that accompanies salvation. That was the experience of the Galatians, and it is our experience today. When God justifies us in His own sight based upon the work of the Lord Jesus on our behalf, He grants us His very own Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14 ESV) Eternal and endless future blessings, our heavenly inheritance, is guaranteed to be ours by the Spirit of God.
So what are we to say to these things? What are we to think of this? How should we respond to these wondrous truths? I think we should respond with the song that will be sung in heaven, the same song that Israel sang, the song of Moses:
“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3-4 ESV)