Read Galatians 3:1-14. What is Paul saying there that is relevant to us today, and how does he use Deuteronomy 27:26 and Deuteronomy 21.22-23 to make his point?
Unfortunately, it’s common in Christianity to use this letter as some kind of justification for not keeping the law, the Ten Commandments. Of course, that argument is really used as a reason not to keep the fourth commandment, as if keeping that one commandment, as opposed to the other nine, is somehow an expression of the legalism that Paul was dealing with here.
Yet, Paul was not speaking against the law, and certainly nothing in this passage could justify breaking the Sabbath commandment. The key can be found in Galatians 3:10, where he writes that “All who rely on the works of the law are under a curse,” and then he quotes Deuteronomy 27:26. The issue isn’t obedience to the law, but “relying on the law” — a tough position, if not an impossible one, for fallen beings like ourselves.
Paul’s point is that we are not saved by the works of the law but by Christ’s death on our behalf, which is credited to us by faith. His emphasis here is on what Christ has done for us, at the cross. And to help make this point, he refers back to Deuteronomy again, this time Deuteronomy 21:23. Like Jesus, Paul says, “it is written,” showing the authority of the Old Testament, and now he quotes from a text dealing with someone who, having committed a capital crime, and having been executed for it, was then hung on a tree, perhaps as a deterrent to others.
Paul, though, uses that as a symbol for Christ’s substitutionary death in our behalf: Christ became a “curse for us” in that He faced the curse of the law; that is, death, which all humans would face because all have violated the law. The good news of the gospel, however, is that the curse that should have been ours became His, at the cross, “that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14).
Or, as Ellen G. White said it: “None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin — sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son.” — Ellen G. White, Patriarch and Prophets, p. 63.
|Think about what you would face if you were to receive the just punishment for whatever wrongs you have committed. However, because Christ bore the punishment for your wrongs in Himself, so that you don’t have to, what should your response to His sacrifice be?|