Jesus my curse

Did you know that Jesus became a curse for us?  Yup – it’s right here in Galatians 3:13

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. Galatians 3:13 HCSB)

Does this mean we are free from the curses of Deuteronomy 28.  There is a very long list of curses but lets consider just a few.

The LORD will make pestilence cling to you until He has exterminated you from the land you are entering to possess. The LORD will afflict you with wasting disease, fever, inflammation, burning heat, drought, blight, and mildew; these will pursue you until you perish.(Deuteronomy 28:21-22 HCSB)

Wow – you have a fever?  Mildew in your home?  A “wasting disease”?  You might be under a curse.  Or how about these?

The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness, and mental confusion, (Deuteronomy 28:28 HCSB)

Grandma have Alzheimer’s Disease?  Are you bi-polar? Blind?  You must really be cursed.

You will become engaged to a woman, but another man will rape her. You will build a house but not live in it. You will plant a vineyard but not enjoy its fruit. (Deuteronomy 28:30 HCSB)

Your fiancée raped? Someone took your house? Stole your vineyard?  It’s your fault – you are under a curse.

And why is all this happening?  Why are you under a curse?  Obviously because you were disobedient to God.

“All these curses will come, pursue, and overtake you until you are destroyed, since you did not obey the LORD your God and keep the commands and statutes He gave you.” (Deuteronomy 28:45 HCSB)

But wait… Jesus has come and since you have received him by faith the curse of the law does not apply to you so…

  • No fever, no mildew, no wasting disease
  • No Alzheimer’s disease, no bi-polar, no blindness
  • No rape, no lost home or vineyard

Really?  And not only that, because of Jesus perfect obedience (and your best efforts at obedience as well of course) the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 also apply to you.

  • Financial Riches
  • Victory in battle
  • Always moving upward, never downward

Wow – sign me up.  I get all the blessings of the Mosaic covenant while escaping the curses as long as I am obedient or at least try really hard to be because of course nobody is perfect.

Hold On A Minute

  • What if a Christian is sick with a wasting disease, Blind, Bi-Polar or has Alzheimer’s Disease?
  • What if their fiancé was raped?
  • What if they lose their home or their business?

It’s clear that many of these things and worse happened to the early Christians.

Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession. (Hebrews 10:32-34 HCSB)

If we truly believe that because of Jesus the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28 apply to us then we can only say… it’s their fault.

  • You have a disease because you didn’t obey God.
  • Your fiancé was raped because you are still under the curse from your disobedience.
  • Your business failed because you haven’t appropriated your authority as a believer and stood in faith.
  • Grandma has Alzheimer’s disease because she was harboring unforgiveness

What a way to have love and compassion on the suffering.  Let’s blame them.

STOP THE MADNESS

Just because you search the bible and find a list of blessings and curses does not mean that the list you found applies to believers today.  You have to ask the question “What did Paul want the Galatians to understand when he wrote this?”

Galatians 3:13 means what the Holy Spirit wanted it to mean as he moved Paul to write to the church at Galatia in the first century using Greek.

The church at Galatia was founded by Paul likely on his second missionary journey.  After Paul left, some well meaning Jewish Christians came along teaching something quite different.

I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to change the good news about the Messiah. (Galatians 1:6-7 HCSB)

Paul says that these false teachers were like spies sent to enslave them

This issue arose because of false brothers smuggled in, who came in secretly to spy on the freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, in order to enslave us. (Galatians 2:4 HCSB)

What? What are these false teachers saying?  What is this different gospel?  It was Jesus and Law.  Sure – you believe in Jesus… great.  Now why don’t you become a Jew.  Let’s have you circumcised and you can start following the law (Mosaic Covenant).  Paul’s response to this belief which had even crept in among the leaders such as Peter (Cephas) and Barnabas was to confront it directly.

We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners” know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16 HCSB)

Oh Snap! In your face Judiazers!  You trying to enslave me to the law again but the Gospel says I am justified by faith alone or Sola Fide as Martin Luther said.  As we pick up chapter 3 we are stepping into the middle of an argument.  Paul has used Abraham before as his primary illustration of Justification by Faith in Romans 4.

Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, then understand that those who have faith are Abraham’s sons. Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and told the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. So those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith. (Galatians 3:6-9 HCSB)

Good news you Gentile Galatians – you too by faith are a son of Abraham!  You don’t have to be circumcised! You don’t need to come under the Mosaic Law to be justified – it isn’t Jesus and Law – it is grace alone, faith alone in Christ alone.  Then Paul explains some things about the (Mosaic) Law.

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed. Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. (Galatians 3:10-13 HCSB)

Paul says

  • If you want to trust in Law for your justification then you are under a curse
  • Nobody was justified by the law because nobody could keep it perfectly
  • Even in the Old Testament era the righteous live by faith (Hab 2:4)
  • But the Law (as a means of justification) is not about faith it is about obedience.

Everyone who has ever been justified and will ever be justified in the sight of God is justified by faith.  Those who came before the cross looked forward to the fulfillment of the promise.  We who come after look back at the Christ and believe by faith just like they did.

Here is some help from the Bible Knowledge Commentary on this

The positive side of Paul’s argument emphasized that there is hope for all who have broken the Law and are therefore under its curse. That hope is not in man but in Christ who redeemed us from the curse of the Law. But how did Christ redeem (exēgorasen, lit., “buy out of slavery”; cf. Gal_4:5; see chart “New Testament Words for Redemption” at Mar_10:45) man? The answer is by becoming a curse for us. This is a strong declaration of substitutionary redemption whereby Christ took the penalty of all guilty lawbreakers on Himself. Thus the “curse of the Law” was transferred from sinners to Christ, the sinless One (cf. 1Pe_3:18), and He delivered people from it. The confirming quotation from Deu_21:23 refers to the fact that in Old Testament times criminals were executed (normally by stoning) and then displayed on a stake or post to show God’s divine rejection. When Christ was crucified, it was evidence He had come under the curse of God. The manner of His death was a great obstacle to faith for Jews until they realized the curse He bore was for them (cf. Isa_53:1-12).

I’m Dead To The Law

For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:19-20 HCSB)

Paul said he died to the law.  I don’t think it is a stretch to say that Paul means that all Christians like him are dead to the law.  He strongly argues against Christians being circumcised for this reason.  Bottom line… Nothing in Deuteronomy 28 applies to Christians today.  No blessings, no curses.  Period.

2 comments

  1. You started off mentioning that some folks say we are free of the curses and end saying we are no longer under the curses. But Godly men and women still get sick and face problems that look like curses.
    I suppose the distinction is that we are no longer subject to God’s curses anymore?
    Thanks.

    1. The curses of Deuteronomy 28 are curses from the LORD for disobedience. Some sickness may come from the LORD today but as Christians we are not punished for our sin – Jesus bore our punishment. God may allow sickness for our good (yes I said good). Hebrews says “Endure hardship as discipline”. Also remember that sickness is also the result of this fallen world we live in and my guess is that the vast majority of sickness has nothing to do with God.

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