Wednesday, 23 March 2016
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10
The words of this verse seem harsh against the law itself, but this is not the case. One might ask, “Why would God give a law which then brought a curse?” Paul will, in time, answer this. But what is obvious is that this is so. If one is under the law, there are certain requirements which must be met. However, it is obvious that none could meet them as is to be directly inferred from the law itself.
Leviticus 23:26-32 prescribes a Day of Atonement for the people of Israel. It was a day which was given for the atoning of the sins of the people. If the people did not sin, then such a day would be unnecessary. However, this day was not just for those who sinned and not for those who “didn’t sin.” In verses 29 & 30, it says this –
“For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.”
Further, the fact that tablets of the testimony were placed within the Ark of the Covenant, and then covered with the mercy seat, implies that mercy was required for what was contained within the ark. If it were not so, there would be no need for a mercy seat.
Therefore, it was the assumption of the law itself that every person would require atonement each year. None were exempt from observing the Day of Atonement because all had broken the very same law which prescribed the giving of this day. This is why Paul then cites the law itself by saying, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
He cites the substance (not a direct quotation) of Deuteronomy 27:26. Deuteronomy 27 goes through a long list of curses for those who violate the law. It then sums up all of those curses with verse 26. However, the listed curses of chapter 27 are merely a portion of all of the other precepts of the law. In other words, the curse of verse 26 is not limited to the list found in chapter 27; those curses are one part of the whole law. And this law includes the Day of Atonement rites.
Therefore, if a Day of Atonement is mandated, then one was required to observe it in acknowledgement of the guilt they bore before God. If they didn’t observe the day (maybe because of trusting in their own righteousness, or for whatever reason), then they were cursed for not fulfilling the words of the law. However, if they did observe it, there was the acknowledgment that they needed the atonement for having not observed the law.
Therefore, the law itself was based on grace. The precepts of the law could only bring condemnation, but the law understood this and thus it offered this annual grace. If one relied on “works of the law,” they stood condemned before God and were under a curse. This doesn’t not mean that they weren’t expected to adhere to the law, but that they were not to trust in their adherence to the law in order to be justified. They were to trust in the continued grace of God.
In the verses ahead, Paul will continue to explain the purpose of the law and then detail the reason for Christ’s coming in relation to that law.
Life application: Paul has noted that any who attempt to be justified by works of the law (meaning the Law of Moses) are under a curse. If this is where you have placed your hope, then your condemnation is just. Put away your self-idolatry and place your faith in Christ’s fulfillment of the law.
Heavenly Father, being in Your presence is the sweetest spot of all. Here we are, a race of people doing everything possible to run from You, and yet You sent us grace… You sent us Jesus. Now because of Him, we can again be in Your presence and have the eternal guarantee of fellowship with You. Thank You for having given us the covering for our sins and rebellion through His shed blood! What a great God You are. Amen.