Why did the Son of God become cursed?
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the GALATIANS – Chapter 3
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? – Galatians 3:1-3
Paul wants to make a point here and starts by being a little offensive, possibly to catch their attention or perhaps because of the passion he feels on this subject. He asks five questions in the first part of this chapter.
Firstly, who has bewitched you? Who has cast a spell over you? You know that Jesus crucified, you know the truth. How come you now believe another gospel? Believe things that others are saying rather than the truth you were taught? It is human nature it be inquisitive but we have to apply wisdom to what we hear and not just accept things blindly. How do they match up to the truths we have learned?
Secondly he asked how did you receive the Spirit? It was not earned by anything they did. It was the gift of God imparted when they placed their faith in Jesus. Paul knows that this is a spiritual battle:
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. – 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
Satan will try to get us to be proud of ourselves. Congratulate us for how well we are doing. Make us proud wehen we are in fact wretched:
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. – Revelation 3:17
Thirdly the issue of how are you perfected? It is not by striving in the flesh but by the work of the Spirit in our lives. This is the main issue. Do we grow into maturity by earning and deserving or by accepting and receiving? Well it is all by grace:
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- – Ephesians 2:4-5
We are saved by grace and we grow by grace. We deserve death – we have been given life. We deserve punishment – we have been given righteousness. We deserve to be separated from God – we have been adopted into His family. It is all by grace. There is nothing we can do but accept greatfully the free gift of God in Jesus Christ. It’s all by grace.
4 Did you suffer so many things in vain-if indeed it was in vain?
5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith-
6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? – Galatians 3:4-6
Fourthly, Paul asks about suffering. He would know the history of the churchs in Galatia as he was involved in their planting. He would know the suffering and persecution they went through. Now he asks them to think was it in vain? In the majority of world there is a high price to follow Jesus. Antagonism from the state and from established religious systems is expected. In the UK and USA Christianity is mostly tolerated although the political systems are moving towards a less accepting position. Paul knew suffering and he knew the grace of God in it so that nothing mattered to him apart from his devotion to Christ.
Then fifty, on what basis does God give us the Holy Spirit? Through our ability to perform and keep His laws? No. We have been given the Spirit as a comforter, the very presence of God in our lives living in our being by His spirit:
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. – 2 Corinthians 6:16
It was always God’s plan that He would dwell with His people. From the garden of Eden to the coming of the New Jerusalem, God has been available for us to dwell with Him but we choose not to. Jesus said:
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. – Matthew 5:6
In this context blessed are those who hunger and thirst after God (who is our righteousness) we will be satisfied in his presence, as we dwell with Him:
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8
Abram (Abraham) believed God, when he was told to leave his home his family and his inheritance, and go to a land promised but not defined at that stage:
1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – Genesis 12:1-3
Because Abram believed God and stepped out in faith God credited him with His righteousness. The righteousness of God was imputed to him by faith. As we step out in faith so we grow in our relationship with Jesus and learn how to dwell with God. He is our God and we are His people.
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. – Galatians 3:7-9
What does it mean to be a “son of”? Well, you are part of a family, you are accepted, you have an inheritance and you inherit your parents genes which in part make you who you are. We take on a lot of our parents’ beliefs, values and world view and although we will make our own decisions in life there always a strong inherited influence. The sons of Abraham received a blessing from God. They received that purely because they were sons, not by anything they did. But as is says in this passage, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” God made a provision for those who were outside the family, and the subsequent nation of Israel. We, the Gentiles have been adopted into the family of God:
5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. – Ephesians 1:5-6
5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. – Galatians 4:5-7
A son has the full right to be a part of the father’s family and in the near east culture an adopted son had exactly the same rights and a natural born child.
Jesus is the Son of God. He has the very same essence, characteristics, attributes and righteousness as God the Father. He will inherit all things and we will be partakers in that inheritance because of the grace of God.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:11-12
We who are of faith are blessed as we dwell in the body of Christ, destined for eternity, to the praise and glory of God. Doesn’t that make you so thankful? Fill our hearts with praise for the One who made it all possible? It is interesting verse 8 says that God “preached the gospel” to Abraham. He gave him the good news and Abraham believed it. And that was the act of faith that made him righteous.
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
This passage is essential to understanding how a person becomes justified before a righteous, holy and just God. First there is the curse. When Adam sinned he was cursed. Death came into the world.
14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. – Romans 5:14-15
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-
22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, – Romans 3:21-23.
Although death was the punishment for our sin God showed mercy and compassion towards us through Christ and through His grace our sins were paid for by the sacrafice of Jesus. Now the question is how do we become righteous before God? Is it by our own efforts or by believing in what God has done through Christ? Well Paul says it is evident that no one is justified through the law. No one can do all the law requires and if you fail in one area that failure is enough to condemn you. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s holy standard. No one can stand before Him cleansed by their own actions. Only Christ can redeem us as He became cursed for us. He took the punishment we deserve. Now we can receive the blessing of Abraham, we can become sons of God by faith. We can receive the Spirit of God in our lives by faith. What is faith? Putting your trust and belief in God. Believing what He says over what we think. Trusting Him for everything. This principle is evident throughout the Old Testament:
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. – Psalm 13:5-6
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. – Psalm 9:10
2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. – Psalm 25:2
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. – Psalm 37:5
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6
“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. – Habakkuk 2:4
Trust in the Old Testament is what we call faith in the New Testament. They trusted God would send the Saviour – we have faith that He sent the Saviour, they believed it would happen – we believe it has happened. Either way you have to believe in the Word of God. You have to have faith in God (Mark 11:22).
15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.
16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.
18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. – Galatians 3:15-18
What is the difference between a covenant and a contract? A covenant in the Old Testament has the implication that two parties are bound together usually by an oath and the symbolic act of eating was often involved. Eating the same food represented becoming one with the person you shared the food with, as you both become what you eat. There was also a tradition of cutting the animal you were going to eat in half and then walking together in between the two halves of the animal (Genesis 15:10). A covenant is binding and cannot be broken. A contract is a document that the parties involved agree on and sign to agree to abide by the terms. A contract can be altered by agreement or broken by disagreement. Here Paul cites the covenant God made with Abram 430 years before the law was introduced at Mount Sinai. His point is that the promises of blessing and inheritance were given totally independently of the law. The promises were not earned through keeping the law but through God binding Himself to Abram through the covenant. Of course Paul goes on to explain that the promises were fulfilled in Christ. He is our promised messiah (John 1:41). He is our inheritance (1 Peter 1 :3-5). We will be eternally bound together with Him (1 Peter 5:10)
But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. – 1 Corinthians 6:17
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. – John 17:22-23
In Christ we are totally bound together to God for eternity. It is not dependent on our keeping the law. The law was given to be our teacher teacher (Gal 3:24) so we could learn that we could not live up to the holiness and glory of God but needed His mercy and grace for salvation.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.
20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. – Galatians 3:19-20
The law was given that the transgressions, the sins, the wrongdoings of mankind would be revealed. Until the offspring, the promised Seed, Jesus Christ came. Then, Jesus did away with the law of sin and death.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:2-4
How can the righteousness requirements of the law be fulfilled in us? Well by walking in the Spirit not in the flesh. By living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” – Matthew 4:4
By learning to be in tune with the Holy Spirit who dwells inside us rather than our own thoughts and desires. The righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in Jesus Christ our Lord and we are in hidden Him with His righteousness imputed to us. God is one and as we are one with Jesus so we are one with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. The law was given by Moses and He became an intermediary between the Children of Israel and God. Now Christ is our intermediary, for ever interceding for us before the Father:
22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office,
24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.
25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. – Hebrews 7:22-25
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.
22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. – Galatians 3:21-22
Many people like to find contradictions in the Bible to try and undermine its credibility. Here Paul answers an accusation that the Law given by Moses does not contradict the promises of God. If through keeping the law a person could be righteous then ther would be no need for God to make a sacrafice of His Son to pay for the sins of the world. Anyone who was good, pure faithful and dillegent could earn them selves a place in heaven. But the Bible says that:
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. – Isaiah 64:6
When Isaiah had a vision of the Lord on His throne his response was:
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” – Isaiah 6:5
Before the Glory of the Lord we are a worms. We have nothing to offer God of our selves but we can give Him our selves and He will make us into what He has destined us to be. In an intimate relationship with Him. But sin destroys that relationship. Job’s main question within his experience of suffering was:
What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? – Job 15:14
How can I be righteous befor a Holy God, of the scriptures declare that I am a prisoner of sin? Well, praise God, it is throught the righteousness of Christ that is given to us that we can stand before God just as if we had never sinned:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. – Romans 5:6
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. – Romans 5:8-10
The promises of God are sure
Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; – Psalm 119:41
20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.-2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT)
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. – Galatians 3:23-26
The law kept us under guard under the law. The Greek word paidagōgos is translated: “a tutor i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.” So the law protected us until faith in Christ came. When Jesus Christ was revealed as a new and better way:
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:19-23
We are no longer under a guardian but we are now sons of God:
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:14
As sons we are free from the bondage to a guardian:
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
We are free to serve Christ through the leading of the Holy Spirit as sons of God, through faith in Christ our Lord.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. – Galatians 3:27-29
The act of baptism does not in its self save a person. It is an outward sign of you identifying with the death of your self and being raised in Christ. But the moment you are totally immersed you disappear. That is what Paul alludes to here. We should disappear in Christ. People should see Christ, not us. By putting on Christ, like getting dressed, we present ourselves to others in a way that reveals the Lord, not us. Paul goes on to say that there is now no division between Jew or Greek. This was a huge issue for the Jewish believers who from birth had been thought the remain separate from the Gentiles. To retain their cultural identity was as strong a drive in the Jewish mind set as self-survival. Hence the issues in the first century church that Paul addresses in his letters. Paul also notes that befor God there is no difference between slave or free or male and female. We all stand before God as equals who have to give account of our own words and our own actions:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. – 2 Corinthians 5:10
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. – Revelation 20:11-12
But for those who have put their faith in Christ they will be hidden in Christ and clothed in righteousness, not for anything they have done but by grace, through faith, that God may receive the glory. The captives will be set free (Luke 4:18), to dwell with God for eternity. Heirs according to the promise given to Abraham, children of God for eternity. Hallelujah.
If you want to know more about how to enter a relationship with God, how to be forgiven of your sins and how to become a Christian please take a look at the Gospel section above or get in touch with me through the contact me page.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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