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THE BLESSED & THE CURSED

NO OTHER GOSPEL  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Imagine yourself in the land of Canaan around the time of the conquest that was led by Joshua the son of Nun. Perhaps you are observing the events from a distance. As you watch you observe that the entire nation splits in half: one croup climbs up Mount Ebal and the other group climbs up Mount Gerizim.
While observing this you hear the sound of many voices that is so loud that sounds like the roar of the sea. As you listen closely you pick up on the fact that the group that is on Mount Ebal is shouting out the blessings that will belong to the children of Israel if they carefully observe all the things that are written in the book of the law. Then you notice that the group on Mount Gerizim is also shouting out. But instead of shouting out blessings they are shouting out the curses that will come upon the people if they do not follow everything that is written in the book of the law. Their statement is summarized as follows:
Deuteronomy 27:26 NASB95PARA
‘Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
Deuteronomy 27:15 NASB95PARA
‘Cursed is the man who makes an idol or a molten image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’
This magnificent scene must have been in Paul’s mind as he wrote our passage for today in . Today, we continue in our series, NO OTHER GOSPEL. As we do so we will look at the comparison between the blessed and the cursed. We will look back over our previous passage as we consider those who are blessed. So, to get things started I would like for us to read .
THE BLESSED (, )
THE ORIGIN OF BLESSING
The origin of blessing is related to faith in the promise of God
The Greek phrase, “ek pisteōs” (of or by faith) is a reoccurring technical expression in this extended passage ().
The preposition “ek” notes the origin or point from which action or motion proceeds
Blessing is the action
Thus our bullet point about the origin of blessing. Four of the five occurrences of this phrase are stated in the positive, while one is stated in the negative. Let’s look at each in turn:
— Those of faith are the sons of Abraham
— Gentiles are justified by faith
— Those of faith are blessed with Abraham
— The righteous man shall live by faith
— The Law IS NOT of faith
THE CHANNEL OF BLESSING
Not only is the origin of blessing related to faith, but faith is also the channel of blessing
Look with me at verse 14. Once again we find the mention of faith. More specifically we receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The preposition translated “through” at the end of verse 14 is the Greek term “dia.” This term denotes the channel of an act.
So, the blessed are those who are described as the sons of Abraham. That is, all true believers in Jesus Christ.
And the blessing comes through the channel of faith
THE CURSED ()
THE CURSED LAWBREAKERS
What does it mean to be cursed? Between the reference to being bewitched in verse 1 and being cursed in verse 10-13 one could easily get the idea that we are talking about some form of witchcraft here. In his commentary on Galatians, Douglas Moo states:
To be under a curse is to be under God’s judgement for failure to live up to His covenant requirements
Notice verse 10 with me once again.
Once again we see the preposition “ek” translated as “of.” To remind you, we have already noted that this Greek term refers to the origin of an action. The origin of blessing is faith in the promise of God.
The origin of cursing is dependence on the works of the Law
It’s not simply a matter of dependence on works for salvation; it is also dependence on works for future blessing as well. Remember, Paul is addressing those who are truly believers in Jesus Christ. These folks began their journey in the Christian life by the Spirit, but were seeking to finish it by works (). Writing about this, Bush and Due stated:
Live in Liberty: The Spiritual Message of Galatians Chapter 9: The Righteous Live by Faith (Galatians 3:10–14)

Paul isn’t cursing those outside the church, he’s aiming at those who diminish grace—and cultivate pride—by supposing that it’s possible to gain God’s favor through God-talk, church attendance, profession of right doctrine, meal-time prayers, regular Bible reading, avoiding gross sins, and the like. The Galatians are running with the ball, trying to score points in helter-skelter frenzy of “doing the right thing,” so Paul sounds the penalty buzzer.

To prove his point Paul quoted the passage from Deuteronomy that we looked earlier in regards to the curses that would be for those who failed to keep what was written in the book of the law. Expositing this same passage James wrote:
James 2:8–11 NASB95PARA
If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
James 2:17 NASB95PARA
Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
James 2:17 NASB95PARA
Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
Notice the first part of verse 11 of our text: “Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident.”
The whole point of the law was bring about the realization that we cannot keep the law ourselves.
We are all guilty. We were guilty even before we were born since we were born with a sin nature.
Douglas Moo, stating this as a syllogism, states:
A syllogism is a method of deductive reasoning which shares a common term, and then makes a conclusion.
Only those who do everything written in the law will escape the curse.
No one can do everything written in the law.
Therefore: No one who depends on doing the law will escape the curse.
To further prove his point Paul quotes another O.T. passage at the end of verse 11: “The righteous man shall live by faith.” This comes from . In the prophets original rendering he is contrasting the arrogant pride of the Babylonians who were to conquer Judah because of their sin against God, and those who are truly righteous. The one is arrogant and prideful, the other is humbly relying on the promise of God for salvation.
This statement is the hinge of the Protestant Reformation in which the truth of the gospel was recovered from the false teaching of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. Martin Luther, a monk turned reformer, was the leader of this movement.

In his monastery at Erfurt, Martin Luther fell into a period of darkness and depression in which he felt he was under the wrath of God. Habakkuk’s words, “The righteous shall live by faith,” spoke to him during this time. The words resonated once more when he journeyed to Rome and visited the Basilica of St. John Lateran. There, certificates for the forgiveness of sins, called indulgences, were issued to all who climbed the steps of the basilica on their knees, pausing to pray and kiss each step. Later, Luther’s son recorded what happened:

As he repeated his prayers on the Lateran staircase, the words of the prophet Habakkuk came suddenly to his mind: “The just shall live by faith.” Thereupon he ceased his prayers, returned to Wittenberg, and took this as the chief foundation of all his doctrine.

Luther no longer believed his efforts could gain God’s favor. He later said, “Before those words broke upon my mind, I hated God and was angry with him … But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood those words—‘the just shall live by faith!’ ‘The just shall live by faith!’—then I felt born again like a new man; I entered through the open doors into the very Paradise of God.”

Look at again at verse 12.
There is a comparison between the righteous man in verse 11 and the cursed man of verse 12. The NLT puts the first phrase of verse 12 this way: “This way of faith is very different from the way of the law.”
Those who are righteous live by faith
Those who practice the law live by the law
Thus far we have been looking at the cursed lawbreakers. Let’s turn our attention now to the cursed law-keeper.
THE CURSED LAW-KEEPER
Look with me at verse 13.
There have been many songs written about Christ as our Redeemer, and rightfully so. Redeemed How I Love to Proclaim it. There is a Redeemer. Christ Redeemeth Sinful Men. My Redeemer is Faithful and True. I Know My Redeemer Lives. And on and on they go. And I, for one, never tire of singing those precious songs.
What did Christ redeem us from?
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law
How did He redeem us?
He redeemed us by becoming a curse for us
Once again Paul uses an O.T. passage to prove his point.
Deuteronomy 21:22–23 CSB
“If anyone is found guilty of an offense deserving the death penalty and is executed, and you hang his body on a tree, you are not to leave his corpse on the tree overnight but are to bury him that day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
In other words, a person was not cursed because he was hung on a tree. He was hung on a tree because he was cursed!
Inherit in our passage is the idea of substitution. The O.T. saints were well aware of this concept. On the Day of Atonement two goats were taken from the flock. On one the High Priest laid his hands on its head and symbolically transferred the sins of the nation of Israel onto this innocent animal. That animal was then slain and offered as a burnt offering. He was the substitute for the nation of Israel — he bore the sins of the nation. But of course the blood of bulls and goats could never take away the sins of the people. The second goat was then taken, and once again the Priest laid his hands on him. Then they took him out into the wilderness and set him free. He was the scapegoat. He carried away the sins of the people with him.
Jesus Christ was both the goat of sacrifice and the scapegoat
Commentators point out how the N.T. authors are careful to refer to the cross as a tree. This is because they want the understanding of the curse to be perceived by their readers. Peter wrote of this in
1 Peter 2:25 NASB95PARA
For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24 ESV
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:25 NASB95PARA
For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Because the sins of all who would believe in Christ were transferred to Him, in a very real sense He became sin personified. Though it wasn’t His own personal offense, yet He became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him!
Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am!
All of this brings us back to the blessing of Abraham. Like bookends on a bookshelf the blessing of Abraham begins and ends this portion of Scripture.
In verse 9 we learned that those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. And now in verse 14 Paul elaborates on that same thought by saying that Christ became a curse by hanging 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.
Christ becoming a curse was purposeful
The purpose was that believers would inherit the blessing of Abraham
This blessing is guaranteed because of the reception of the promise of the Spirit through faith
This morning we have looked at the blessed and the cursed. All of us are numbered among one of these groups.
Are you numbered among the blessed because Christ became a curse for you? If so, that should have a life-changing impact on your life. In what ways should it change our life:
It should bring us great joy
It should cause us to seek to become obedient to our Lord and Savior
A major part of this obedience is to be personally involved in the work of the Great Commission
It should cause us to offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice
It should cause us to stop being conformed to the ways of this world — and rather to be transformed by the renewing of our minds
If you are not numbered among the blessed, then you are numbered among the cursed. That is a gruesome and sobering thought. But for you the offer is there for you to exchange your yoke of sin for Christ’s yoke of righteousness. But how can you do that?
Recognize that there is a God to whom you are accountable
Recognize that you are a sinner, and your sin is an offense to this God to whom you are accountable
Recognize that Jesus, who is God in the flesh, came to earth to live the perfect life that you could never live, and to become the curse for all who put their faith in Him. That when He died on the tree, He paid the price for your sin. And when He rose from the dead He won the victory over both sin and death
Recognize that you cannot earn your salvation by any type of good thing that you do — for the righteous will live by faith
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved
Let’s pray.
Closing Song: No. Redeemed How I Love to Proclaim It
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