Faithlife Sermons

Freedom from the Curse of Sin

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Galatians 3:10–25 ESV
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.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 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”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. 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. 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. 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. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. 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. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 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. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
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Introduction:
If it were possible to lose your salvation, how would one go about keeping their salvation? That is a valid question. While as a baptist, I believe that salvation is eternally secure, our human nature fights against that. Maybe we sum this hypothetical question up to being “faithful and obedient.” Well, that is very valid as well; however by says we maintain our salvation by being “good” we have now put our salvation in our hands and removed it from God. We have now placed ourselves under a burden of having to maintain a certain set of standards in order to “stay saved.”
What about this discussion, “So and so is probably not a true Christian because they don’t attend church regularly.” At that point, we have now passed judgment on that person’s salvation experience and cannot rightfully make that distinction. There are however some guidelines we can use to determine the extent of where a person stands before God and we will discuss that in a few weeks when we get to the end of chapter 5.
Paul was facing this similar issue when he wrote this letter to the churches at Galatia. The Judaizers had come in behind him telling the believers that faith in grace was enough to save a person, but in order to maintain that salvation, the believers had to abide by the Law of Moses (namely circumcision.) In our text this morning, Paul is diving deeper into a scriptural argument as to why the Law of Moses is not necessary for a believer in order to maintain the salvation. Paul had just spoke of the argument that Abraham had been made a promise by God, and that promise (covenant) that was made by God to Abraham was not voided by the Law and had a particular purpose. Ultimately, Paul’s argument focuses on the fact that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the Law of Moses that extends the promise of Abraham to everyone that has placed their faith in Him.
Galatians 3:10–25 ESV
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. 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. 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. 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. 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,

In Jesus, the promise to Abraham was fulfilled

Paul knew that under the requirements of the law, no one would be considered righteous. He knew that in order to be considered righteous according to the law that a person had to fulfill all aspects of the law and that if one point of the law was missed, the entire law was considered missed.
In verse 10, Paul quotes , stating that if a person did not abide by all aspects of the law, that person was cursed. In verse 11, he then points to what was originally stated in that “the righteous shall live by faith.” This is key to understand the rest of Paul’s argument that he is about to make.
In verse 12, Paul keys on the fact that the law was not based on faith, and that those those that chose to live by the law had to remain in the law in its entirety. Paul understood what it meant to “live by” something. You’ve heard the statement, “to live by the sword is to die by the sword.”
What does it truly mean to “live by faith”?
To “live by” something means to rely on it for happiness and fulfillment. Whatever we live by is essentially the bottom line of our lives. It’s what gives our lives meaning. It is what defines out lives.
If a person lives by the law, that is what defines their life. The law sucked the joy out of life for people. It was a method to live life by. It wasn’t intended to be that way. The law was to be a guide, a reminder of what was to come in Jesus Christ. Jesus was the one that bore all of the requirements of the law. He took them upon himself all the way to the cross, so that we did not have to live life chained to a set of requirements ever again.
Paul makes that point in verses 13-14. Obedience to the law ended up becoming a curse because under our own power we could not obey all of the laws on our own. We needed a way out from under that curse. Jesus became that curse for us. There is a large implication in that statement that Paul writes when he says He became the curse for us.

Christ became the curse for us

This is important to understand because without understanding it we cannot understand the depth of what Jesus did for each and every person.
The word “for” means on behalf of or in place of. Jesus was our substitute. In the gospel presentation, this is the letter “S”. The sufficiency of Christ.
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
It is Jesus and nothing else that is required as payment for our sins, and that is what frees us from the curse of the law. Jesus didn’t just take on our sin, He BECAME sin. He was everything we were without being what we were, and it is because of that we can become the righteousness of God. Jesus was treated as if He were as sinful as me or you, and for all intents and purposes, He became the entire sinful humanity of all time.
How does it strengthen your faith knowing that Jesus did what you couldn’t do?

The law was a bridge to the promise of Abraham

Paul begins the next section explaining what the purpose of the law truly was for people. In verses 15-18, Paul gives an example of what the law did not do. In this section, he uses the term “covenant.” The term covenant describes a testament, and not the testament like we think of in scripture speaking of old and new, although once we understand this word, it opens our eyes to some very important issues. The term testament here is used to describe a will. We understand that as a last will and testament. When wills were written in the first century, they were sealed multiple times and once they were sealed, they could not be opened until it was time to open them, and if they were opened, there would be evidence of tampering. It would be similar to the seven sealed scroll of Revelation.
Paul uses this analogy very effectively by saying that once the covenant was ratified, there was no going back and changing the terms of the covenant. In order to better understand this, we must journey back to Genesis chapter 15:
God had promised Abraham that he was going to be a great nation, the father of many, and all nations were going to be blessed through him. In order for that to be solid, God told Abraham to get a cow, a goat, a ram, a dove, and a pigeon. Abraham cuts them in half and places them on either side of the altar, and God passes through them, thus solidifying the promise He has made with Abraham. In order to understand this, we must also understand that this was how agreements were ratified in Abraham’s day. Passing through the split carcases of animals was the same thing as saying, “if I break this covenant, may I be treated the same as these animals.”
Now, back to our will. Once the will is written, let’s say for example, you have two children and one is a self-made millionaire and the other is struggling along in life, so you leave your vast fortune to the one that is struggling. Now, let’s say that the day after you die, the self-made millionaire looses everything in a stock market crash. The circumstances have changed, but the terms of the will do not change.
This is what brought the law to existence. The circumstances had changed, but the promise did not. Paul says, the law came because of “transgression.” The law became the bridge (a placeholder) if you will until the time came for the deliverer to come.

The law was a reminder of sinfulness

Paul then goes into a discussion on the purpose of the law starting in verse 21. He asks the question, “is the law contrary to the promises of God?” and of course that answer is an emphatic no. The purpose of the law was to serve as a reminder to people that they needed a redeemer. We realize under the law and with the requirements of the law that we will not be able to keep every single aspect of the the law under our own power.
Paul says that the law was never meant to impart life to people, but rather it literally imprisoned people to it. The reason why was so that we could grasp the concept of the need for a redeemer. Our personal righteousness will never be able to keep every requirement of the law, and through the system of sacrifices that were require to be made, it served as a reminder of just how sinful human nature really is.
Paul says the law was a “guardian.” What he means by that is the law was a tutor. In early Jewish tradition, school aged children were looked after by a tutor. They were slaves to the family that were assigned specifically to bring up the children according to Jewish customs and courtesies. The KJV renders verse 24 as a “schoolmaster.” It can also be translated as a tutor as well. The law served to remind people how they should act until they were full grown, if you will, when the messiah was to come.
The law served as a reminder and pointed to the promise. IT did not nullify the promise made to Abraham.
In what ways are you chained to a system of trying to maintain your personal salvation?

We are freed from sin through faith.

The law basically help people prisoner. But now that Jesus has come the promise made to Abraham has been fulfilled. By Jesus’ becoming the curse that we could never bear, by him paying that debt we could never pay, we are no longer help captive to a system of works in order to maintain our salvation. We have been set free from the curse of sin and are able to take part in all the promises of God made through Abraham. It is through faith that we can truly honor the law of God. What is the law of God? The law of God is love:
Matthew 22:37–40 ESV
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
All of the law is summed up in two directions. Those are commandments we can live by. We can love God with all our heart because He became the curse we should have been. We can love God because He paid the debt that we were never going to be able to pay. We can love others because God loved us enough to do all of that for us:
Romans 5:8 ESV
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
No matter what we have done, God gave us eternal life by sending His Son to die for us. He took on all that so we could be free.
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