Chapter 3:10-14 (ESV) 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.
Question to consider: Why does Paul say “the law is not of faith”?
We live in a society that reserves capital punishment for only the most horrific of crimes, and only about half of the states in the union even allow it to occur. So it’s easy to forget that in God’s eyes, every sin gets the death penalty. Some sins may require it more quickly than others, but ultimately the death rate for humans is 100% despite the hope of some science fiction authors. This is why Paul says that those who rely on their good works are under a curse because the only person to ever keep the law perfectly was Jesus.
I think James summarizes this idea quite nicely in his epistle. Verse 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” Why is this so? Because ultimately, every one of the ten commandments are rooted in the first. Every time we steal or lie or covet or disobey our parents, we say that our desires are more important than God’s commands which puts us in the place of God and violates God’s #1 command.
But thankfully, the one person who kept the entire law completely, took this curse that was meant for us upon himself on the cross. “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree,” is from Deuteronomy 21:22-23. Jesus gives his righteousness to us as a gift so that when we stand before God, we can either be judged by our own works or by His. This is why Peter could so boldly proclaim in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Because of God’s promise to Abraham, this gift is offered to all people, Jew and Gentile.
People get angry when they hear that Jesus is the only way to be saved, but who else could save them? Buddha may have had some tips on serenity and a balanced lifestyle, but he was not without sin. If you follow all of Muhammad’s rules, you may have an understanding of submission or order in a sinful world, but you will not be made righteous before your creator. John Lennon may have told you that “All you need is Love,” but without the gift of Christ’s righteousness, you will come up wanting on the Day of Judgment.
Holy God, please do not let our pride keep us from receiving the greatest gift anyone has ever given. Help us to see how far we fall short of your perfect glory so we can cling more tightly to the righteousness of Christ. And just as you have forgiven us, please help us to forgive those who sin against us and help us to proclaim as boldly as Peter that there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved! Amen.