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. Galatians 3:10-14 (ESV).
“Through Christ death has lost her sting. Christ is the death of death.”– Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 1535
One of the primary teachings of the Protestant Reformation is sola fide, or Faith Alone. This is important to remember because even today we as Christians are tempted to think we can earn brownie points and follow the rules to justify ourselves. Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians because there were teachers called Judaizers who were trying to convince the Galatian church that they could only truly follow Jesus if they also kept the Jewish Law. They were leading people away from the sound doctrine of salvation by Faith Alone into setting extra conditions for salvation- the unsound doctrine of Jesus…AND.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
Paul is underscoring the reality that we as fallen creatures do not have the power to break the curse of sin and death based on what we do or don’t do. We are powerless to save ourselves, or to will ourselves to life, no matter what we do. We are lifeless like the dry bones that God told Ezekiel to prophesy to. (Ezekiel 37) The dry bones could do nothing to come alive of their own accord. The Word of God- Jesus- is the only power that can break the curse of sin and death and bring us to life out of the deadness of our trespasses and sins.
Jesus took our place as the curse, hanged on a tree. He was made to be the curse so that through faith in Him we can become children of God- the spiritual descendents and inheritors of the blessing of salvation that was promised in God’s covenant to Abraham.
“By faith Christ changes places with us. He gets our sins, we get His holiness.”– Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 1535
Abraham was never justified by keeping the Law. The Law didn’t even show up until centuries after Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham was a one way deal.
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. Romans 4:13 (ESV)
Jesus has become both the curse- hanged on the tree carrying all of humanity’s sins- and the blessing of Abraham. Jesus is the promised offspring of Abraham, from the covenant God made before the covenant with Moses and the handing down of the Jewish Law. God’s covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus. We become children of God’s promise through faith- through trusting Jesus. Not Jesus…AND, but through faith in Him alone.
“Let us become expert in the art of transferring our sins, our death, and every evil from ourselves to Christ; and Christ’s righteousness and blessing from Christ to ourselves.”– Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 1535