FREE booklet : The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God's Law?
The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God's Law?
¬ Introduction
¬ God's Magnificent Series of Covenants
  Did Abraham Keep the Same Commandments God Gave to Moses?
  How Can We Obey God's Commandments?
  The Sinai Covenant and the 'Voice of the Lord'
  God's 'Laws, Statutes and Judgments'
  Key Elements of the Sinai Covenant
  Rightly Understanding 'Justification' and 'Righteousness'
  Did the Ten Commandments Exist Before Moses?
  God's Law: Is It a Burden or a Blessing?
¬ A New Covenant for Transforming the Heart
  What Was the Main Weakness of the Sinai Covenant?
  How God Balances Justice With Mercy
  How Is the New Covenant 'New'?
  The Ten Commandments: Keys in a Law of Love
¬ The High Priest Essential to Salvation
  Grace and Law: Why Are They Inseparable?
  A High Priest Eager to Help Us
¬ Circumcision vs. a 'New Creation' in Christ
  Current Confusion Over Christian Freedom
  The 'Curse of the Law'
  Galatians 4:9-10: Are God's Laws Bondage?
  Did Paul's Words to the Galatians Contradict His Actions?
  Why Paul Used the Term 'the Whole Law' in Galatians 5:3
  What's Wrong With Our Human Nature?
  The Holy Spirit: God's Promise of His Divine Help
¬ The Justice and Judgment of God
  How Paul Put the Law on 'Firmer Footing'
  How Does Justification Relate to Salvation?
  Does Romans 14 Abolish Laws on Unclean Meats?
  Did Paul Teach That All Days of Worship Are Alike?
  Did Paul Tell the Romans One Thing and the Corinthians the Opposite?
¬ Peace and Unity in Christ
  Paul Imprisoned Over a Man-Made Taboo
  The Corruption of Apostolic Christianity
  What Was 'Wiped Out' by Jesus Christ's Death?
  What Does 'Shadow of Things to Come' Mean?
  The Calendar Used by the Earliest Gentile Christians
  The Ascetic Philosophy Affecting the Colossians
  Colossians 2:16-17: Are God's Laws Obsolete?
¬ The Apostles, the Old Testament and God's Law
  Jesus and Paul Emphasize the Law's Correct Focus
  Paul Regularly Used the Old Testament as the Authority for His Teaching
  Acts Shows What the Early Church Believed and Practiced
  What Did Paul Mean by 'Christ Is the End of the Law'?
  The Jerusalem Conference of Acts 15: What Was Decided?
¬ Jesus' Teaching on God's Law
  Other Important Ways Jesus Fulfilled the Law
  Does the New Covenant Abolish the Commandments?
  The 'New' Part of Jesus Christ's 'New Commandment'
  Confusion Over Legalism: What It Is and Isn't
  Does God Set Conditions on His Gift of Eternal Life?
¬ All the World Under the New Covenant
  Liberty Through God's Law
  A Covenant of Marriage
From the publisher of The Good News magazine.
The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God's Law?
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The 'Curse of the Law'

Galatians 3:10-13 is one of the most frequently misused passages in the Bible. In both writing and preaching, scholars and pastors alike turn to this passage to support a badly misguided assumption that Paul viewed God's law as a curse. But how could he view it as a curse since he stated in Romans 7:12 that God's law was holy?

Paul indeed speaks of "the curse of the law" (Galatians 3:13), meaning a curse decreed by the law. But he does not refer to the law itself as a curse.

What Paul actually says is this: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'" (verse 13, NRSV).

A few verses earlier he writes: "For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law'" (verse 10, NRSV).

First, notice that the curse applies to "everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law"! No curse is pronounced on those who obey "all the things" the law requires.

Of course, only Jesus Christ has ever obeyed everything in the law, without transgressing any of it. All the rest of us have sinned.

What, then, is "the curse of the law"? And in what way has Christ become a curse for us? What was Paul really saying?

This is easily explained from the law itself. Galatians 3:10 merely paraphrases an Old Testament passage: "Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them" (Deuteronomy 27:26, NASB). The curse is not the law—it is clearly the penalty imposed for not keeping the law.

Galatians 3:13 also is a condensed quote of an Old Testament passage that explains exactly who is cursed and why: "If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance" (Deuteronomy 21:22-23, NIV).

Those "guilty of a capital offense"—deserving the penalty of death—were hung on a tree after being executed to serve as a public example. They were displayed before all as convicted sinners, cursed for their sins.

All human beings are guilty of sin. Therefore, we all deserve to be displayed as convicted and "cursed" sinners.

Jesus Christ, by being crucified and in effect hung on a tree as a condemned criminal, "bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness" (1 Peter 2:24).

He bore the full curse—the full public disgrace and penalty of death —that we all deserve. This was what Paul meant in Galatians 3:13 when he wrote, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us" (NRSV).

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