Reposted from 2011:
Previously: Galatians 3:1-9, what saves a man
We just finished reading in Gal 3:1-9, that Paul’s topic is what saves or justifies a man. We need to remember that this is what he is talking about when we read the next portion of Gal 3. To make the point more clear, we can read this passage adding the clarification that he is talking about justification, in all the places where he implied it:
For as many as are of [justification by] the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, [justification by] the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse [brought by having to be justified] of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”– in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3:10-14
So what is the curse of the Law that Paul is talking about? Is it, as we have been taught, that if we obey the Law we are under a curse?
The curse of the Law is not brought upon us by obedience to the Law. But the curse of the Law is brought upon us by disobedience to the Law (Deu 28:15; Rom 2:12-13), which condemns us as sinners in God’s sight. Jesus has redeemed us from the indictment of the Law, which decreed us a transgressor of the Law (Col 2:13-14) and therefore worthy of death, the wage for sin (Rom 6:23).
He has redeemed us by becoming a curse for us! He has taken the sin, which is charged to our account because we broke the Law (which is the definition of righteousness and sin), upon Himself. Our sin was imputed to Him, and His righteousness (for He lived a sinless life and did not break the Law in any particular) was imputed to us (2 Cor 5:21). We receive the gift of righteousness through faith, not by obedience to the Law (Rom 3:19-24). For, as Paul points out, if we receive right standing or justification because of our work, then it is our wage (Rom 4:4-5), and not a free gift.
Paul is saying that we have been into the courtroom of the Heavenly Judge, the blood of the Lamb was found brushed over our guilty verdict, and therefore we have been redeemed from the indictment — the curse — of the Law which required death as a consequence for sin.
Yes, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law! But it is not obedience to the Law which is the curse, but our having to be justified by our obedience to the Law that is the curse!
We know that the curse cannot be obedience to the Law itself, because the prophets tell us that the Law will be written on our hearts (Jer 31:31-34) and we will be careful to obey its statutes (Eze 36:25-27); Jesus tells us that He does not know those who practice Law-lessness (Mat 7:21-23); John tells us that sin is Law-lessness, and the one who practices sin (Law-lessness) does not know Jesus (1 Joh 3:4, 1 Joh 2:4); and Paul tells us that no one who makes a practice of those things which the Law condemns as sin, will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10). Paul himself was obedient to the Law throughout his ministry (Act 21:18-24).
Continued in Galatians 3:15-29, the purpose of the law