MAIN POINT OF PASSAGE (in one sentence):
- The severity of our sin (making us cursed, i.e., condemned)
- The transfer of that punishment to his son.
- Our response by faith
God transferred our sin punishment (curse) to Jesus, allowing us to be redeemed [stand faultless before God] by accepting Jesus’ payment in place of our own when we respond by faith
APPLICATION FROM THE PASSAGE: To surrender my own unworthy attempts at righteousness in exchange for those of Jesus Christ to give me right standing before God.
GETTING STARTED (115 words)
Whenever disaster strikes, be it natural or man-made, we always ask, “How bad is it?” We want to know what is at stake. With information at our fingertips, we want clarity—especially in situations that affect us personally. We need an honest (even if brutally so) assessment in order to know what to do next. Options and choices only make sense in light of the assessment. In this passage, Paul used the word “curse” five times to underline the severity of our condition—but then he revealed the solution.
- When faced with your own sin, do you justify or excuse yourself with statements like, “everyone does it”? Or do you understand how offensive your sin is to a holy and sinless God?
READ THE WORD: GALATIANS 3:1-14 (ESV)
3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
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.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 10-14.)
- How severe is the condition of all who rely on good works in an attempt to justify themselves before God? If we do rely on our own good works (i.e., obeying the law), how demanding is that requirement (vs. 10)?
- What is our only escape from that curse (vs. 11)?
- What is obvious of anyone who thinks they are justified (declared righteous) before God by obeying the law (vs. 11)? Can we improve our position by combining being justified by faith with being justified by the law (vss. 11-12)?
- What did Jesus Christ do to redeem us from the curse of the law (vs. 13)?
- The blessing of Abraham (i.e., receiving the Spirit through faith) extends to us as well. Are you negotiating with God with your own best-intended efforts, or responding by faith to his finished work in Christ?
RESPOND TO GOD (115 words)
When we flaunt our best efforts to enhance our standing with God, he views them as detestable and us as cursed. Our finest works can never erase our sin. We stand condemned before a holy God. But Jesus became our curse for us, and God punished Jesus, the Perfect One, in our place—as if he were cursed instead of us. Jesus’ punishment reveals just how bad our sin is. By accepting Jesus’ punishment in exchange for our own, God accepts our reliance on his son as full payment for our own condemnation.
- Pray: Lord, I agree that only Jesus’ crucifixion is sufficient to remove the curse of all my sins. I commit to a life of looking to you to guide me and not relying on my best-intended efforts.