Saturday, August 25, 2007

Assignment: Write a 15 mintue evangelistic sermon - well, here it is

Redemption from the Law’s Curse

Submitted by: Patrick Hines, August 28, 2007

Scripture passage:

Galatians 3:10-14 (NASB-U)

[10] For as many as are of 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." [11] Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "The righteous man shall live by faith." [12] However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, "He who practices them shall live by them." [13] Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"


While the depth, height, and magnitude of God’s love and grace dominate the content of preaching today, neither God’s love nor His grace have a context in which they can make sense to the unbelieving ear apart from a full discussion of what this passage identifies as “the curse of the Law.” The all-holy God of heaven and earth, the Sovereign King of glory, the giver and taker of life, and the one who (as Isaiah 45:7 says) “forms the light and creates darkness” and who “makes peace and creates calamity,” is also the unchanging Law-Giver. The God who made all men has sovereignly placed them under the obligations of His law. All men are accountable to God for the lives they live because God made them and has absolute authority over them. Although men continuously and universally, with no exceptions whatsoever, suppress what they know in their hearts to be true of God’s existence, His divinity, and His coming judgment (Romans 1:18 and following), they nevertheless stand before God obligated to keep not just some but all of His commandments perfectly and perpetually. This is what God demands of men.

God cannot be unchanging and at the same time lower the standard of what He requires of men. When God issues a commandment such as: “You shall have no other gods before me,” or “You shall not commit adultery,” or “You shall not steal,” these commandments are unchangeable and allow no room for failure of any kind. When God placed Adam under the obligation of His law, it was understood that what was expected was obedience – perfect and entire. No allowances were made for occasional breaches of the command not to eat of the forbidden fruit.

Even apart from the direct knowledge of God we have in Scripture, anyone living in the world today knows without question that something is desperately wrong with men. Man, who is made a little lower than an angel, is capable of both remarkable good and insidious evil. Because of the blindness caused by pervasive sinfulness, men consistently flatter themselves by hiding their faults and overemphasizing their meager virtues. Vast multitudes of people the world-over unknowingly sit on the edge of hell itself, dangling their legs over its side like children sleepily fishing off the dock in the noonday sun thinking a small sunfish is about to bite the worm on their hook. They don’t realize in the midst of their absentminded daydreaming that a great white shark is just below the surface of the water right in front of them ready to cut them in half in an instant. So it is with all who delude themselves into thinking they can withstand the severity of the Holy God’s terrible and awful judgment clothed in the tattered rags of their own woefully flawed obedience to His law.

The false teachers who provoked Paul to write such a scathing letter evidently believed the giving of the Law of Moses had changed the foundation of human salvation. God had admittedly made an unconditional promise to Abraham which he believed and was thus “reckoned as righteousness.” But now, so these teachers taught, we have obedience to the Law of Moses added to this simple act of belief. These teachers believed the giving of the law meant the giving of new conditions of salvation which must be met by the believer. Paul’s response to them and anyone else who would add conditions to faith in Jesus Christ as the means of justification before God is the following:

[10] For as many as are of 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."

Paul explains that anyone who relies upon their own works, their own faithfulness, their own moral character, or anything else other than or along side of Jesus Christ is “ under a curse.” All who rely upon observance of law to get them into heaven are accursed and will go to hell. Deuteronomy 27:26 is cited as a summary statement coming at the end of God’s law as laid out in the Pentateuch. Clearly Paul believed and taught that the Law of God allows no room for partial obedience or failure of any kind at all. The man who does not abide by all that is written in it and fails to perform it is under the curse of God. Nothing worse could possibly be imagined than to be accursed of God. All who disobey the Law of God are accursed.

[11] Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "The righteous man shall live by faith."

Paul now sets forth the point that it was already clear that no one is justified by the Law before God because even the Old Testament itself asserts that the “righteous man shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). The fall of the race of men into sin made attaining heaven by obedience cease to be a possibility. All mankind sinned and died in Adam. Every man without exception is born with a sinful heart which is itself damnable in the sight of God and further renders his every action stained with sin. Men are in a desperate and hopeless position unless the merciful and gracious God chooses of His own freewill to bestow mercy, pity, and grace upon them. And He is under no obligation to do so.

[12] However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, "He who practices them shall live by them."

In the mind of Paul, no mixture of faith in Christ with obedience to law is possible when it comes to being justified before God. One is either justified by perfect, lifelong, and uninterrupted obedience to Law, or one is justified by faith in another, namely, Jesus Christ – the righteous one. Only the person who “practices” the law shall live by it. Since no one practices it or abides in all things commanded in it, no one is or can be justified by it. God’s law was not given to man to save us but to slay us, to condemn us, to show us how hopelessly lost we are, to cause us to despair of any hope of standing before God in our own obedience in order that we might seek salvation in the righteousness of another, in the only one who ever did abide in all things written in the book of the Law, the one who alone “practiced” the law and lived by it – Jesus Christ.

[13] Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"—

And now the tremendous announcement of the Good News. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us. All who will repent and put their trust in Christ alone will have Christ as their curse-bearer. In the agony of His passion, Jesus Christ became the focal-point of the full and unrestrained wrath, judgment, and anger of the Holy God. The one who knew no sin became sin in our behalf. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, was treated by the Father as if He had lived the life of a prostitute, an abortion doctor, a thief, a liar, and an idolater. The one who knew no sin was nailed to the cross for lies He never told, lust He never entertained, lives He never took, adultery He never committed. The one who fulfilled all righteousness with His whole life of humiliation was “crushed for our iniquities” and had “the iniquities of us all” laid upon Him by His Righteous Father. God’s character as holy demands that sin be punished. It is essential we understand that all our sins will indeed be punished by God. Christ was cursed that believers in Him would be blessed and taken to God as His own dear children. That penalty, that debt, that curse must be paid if any of us sinners are to see the halls of heaven. The Father did not spare Christ in order that He might spare even the vilest and most wretched of sinners. Those who are often so bold in sinning in the theater of their minds, those who have committed adultery, those who have murdered unborn children, those who are addicted to internet pornography, and those who have killed human beings in occult rituals, can be made clean by the shedding of Jesus’ blood. Jesus came with a mission which He succeeded perfectly in accomplishing – the redemption of all those entrusted to Him by the Father. In John 6:37-39 Jesus said, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law – it is an accomplished fact.

All who repent and come to Jesus will find Him to be a perfect and faithful Savior. Only come, only believe – if you are willing, He never was otherwise. Abandon all hope in yourself and embrace Christ’s righteousness as your righteousness and His cross as the satisfaction to the Father’s justice for your sins. Edwards said it best when he remarked that your righteousness has as much of a chance of withstanding the judgment of God as a spider’s web has of stopping an avalanche. Don’t be so foolish as to deceive yourself into thinking there is no God and no judgment to face. In your heart you know there will be a day of reckoning. To the unrepentant and unbelieving in that day, Christ will be the wrathful, vengeful judge who will bring them down in humility and make His arrows drunk with their blood. They will bear their own curse. But to those wearied by their sin, to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, to those who groan under their sin and long to be made clean, I invite you to believe that what Jesus did He did for you. And believe that what He did is by itself sufficient to save you. The sins that haunt you, the ones that infiltrate your dreams, and the ones you hope no one but you and God will ever know about are no match for the saving blood of the Lord Jesus. His shed blood is more than enough to make you clean before God, and the seamless robe of His righteousness will never run threadbare. The salvation offered to the world in Jesus Christ is full, free, perfect, and eternal. If you worry that your sins are too great, that you are too far gone into sin’s grip, that you’ve fallen and stumbled one too many times, remember what one of the Puritans once said, “God will never be the patron of a lost cause.” If your faith is in Christ alone, you have been redeemed from the curse because the Lord Jesus became that curse in your stead. Thanks be to God for choosing to show us grace instead of fairness.