Date: October 23, 2022
Speaker: Russ Allen
Scripture: Galatians 3:10-18
Oh, there we go. My name is Russ Allen. I’m the student ministries pastor here at West Shore. I am excited to share God’s word with you. We’re going to be in Galatians chapter three, continuing our series in that book. We’re going to look at verses 10 through 18. This morning, for those of you who like to write, maybe interact with the text a little bit, the full text is actually on the back of your notes this morning, as well. Something that I like to do. So let’s read together Galatians, three, verses 10 through 18. says, 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 his written curse 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. To give a human example, brothers, even with a man made covenant, no annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say and to off springs, referring to many, but referring to one, and to your offspring, who is Christ. This is what I mean, the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise. But God gave it to Abraham, by a promise. This is the word, the Lord. So the title of this sermon is the way to blessing. The way to blessing. Its been my prayer all week that as we bring this text to bear on our hearts, that it would stir up our affections for Jesus. Now, the main point for today comes from verses 13 and 14. That is that Christ on the cross, redeemed us from the curse of the law, so that we can receive the promised blessing. Christ on the cross redeemed us from the curse of the law, so we can receive the promise, blessing. Now in order to unpack Paul’s point here, we’re going to be looking at three different things. We’re going to look at them sort of in reverse order from our main point. So first, we’re going to talk about the blessing. Then we’re going to talk about the law. And finally, the cross. Central to Paul’s argument here in Galatians. Three, is rightly understanding this promise made to Abraham, in the book of Genesis. You can see this in verse eight, which we looked at last week about the gospel preached to Abraham, verse 14, about the blessing of Abraham coming to the Gentiles, you can circle blessing of Abraham, verses 16 and 18, about the promise of blessing the inheritance that was made to him. So this concept of blessing encapsulates the rest of the text. So we might ask, what does all of this mean? Why, Abraham, and what relevance does this have for me today?
To answer those questions, we need to remember the context of what is happening in these Galatian churches. Jewish men, called Judaizers had infiltrated these churches. We’re teaching that Christians had to follow the Old Testament law. The main sign of this obedience to the law was circumcision. They were forcing uncircumcised men, Gentiles, who believed in Jesus to be circumcised, claiming that it was necessary for salvation, to receive the blessing. This is why Paul is writing this letter to the Galatians. He’s trying to debunk the claims of these false teachers. What better way to do that, than to talk about Abraham. After all, Abraham was the father of the Jewish faith. He was the main patriarch, the symbol of a people that were favored by God, and would inherit God’s blessings. And as the Judaizers, surely pointed out, Abraham was instructed by God to be circumcised, along with all of his descendants. You can read about this in Genesis chapter 17. So to the Judaizers circumcision, is what indicated that you were a beneficiary of the blessing promised to Abraham. Now, what is this blessing? It is both immediate and ultimate. In an immediate sense, it was the land of Canaan, in the Middle East, modern day Israel was the epicenter that would become Jerusalem. It was also the physical descendants of Abraham that were the Jewish people, and all the goodness and riches they would have, they would have and that they would bestow on other nations. We read about this in Genesis chapter 12. But all of the language surrounding this immediate blessing points to something even greater, and ultimate blessing. Some of the words used to describe this are a land flowing with milk and honey, a nation of priests, holy city, and an everlasting reign of peace with the very presence of God. The purpose of this immediate fulfillment in the land of Canaan is intended to point us to the ultimate fulfillment. You might think of it as a physical placeholder, or a historical object lesson. Hebrews chapter 11, verses 15 and 16. Say that the fathers of the Jewish people truly desired a better country that is a heavenly one. See, the ultimate blessing that is alluded to is nothing short of a return to Eden, or return to the perfection that was lost. A time and place for all the wrong will be made right? Where love and righteousness govern the nation’s. As Christians today, we know that this blessing is ours, because of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. We see this at the end of verse 14, that we receive the promised Spirit through faith. The Spirits work in our lives shows us glimpses of the ultimate blessing that awaits us. Glimpses of this love. Glimpses of this peace. Glimpses of this righteousness here, and now. But for all of us, even our non Christian friends visiting today. My guess is that if we removed all of the idols from our hearts, what we’d find is a deep desire for this blessing. Don’t you desire, a place of ultimate peace, of ultimate love, of ultimate satisfaction. Why? Because that’s what we were originally created for. But we now live in a world that is worlds removed from it. CS Lewis puts it this way. He says, there have been times when I think we do not desire heaven. But more often I find myself wondering whether in our heart of hearts we have ever desired anything else. It is the secret signature of each soul. The incommunicable and unappeasable want the thing we desired before we met our wives, or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds when the mind no longer knows wife or friend, or work. This is the ultimate blessing. This is the blessing. It’s alluded to when God first promises it to Abraham.
He says this blessing for everyone is going to come through you, Abraham. What’s so profound about this truth? That Paul highlights here is that God promises the blessing before the law was given. Even before Abraham was circumcised, promised. Look at verses 717 and 18. This is what I mean, the law which came 430 years afterward, does not a normal, a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the wall, it no longer comes by promise. But God gave it to Abraham, by a promise. So the law, which we’ll talk about more later, turn to find last week, as all of the actions required in the Old Testament. This was given after the promise made to Abraham, of this blessing. Now what’s so amazing about God’s promise of blessing to and through Abraham, is that it did not depend on Abraham’s actions at all. If you look at the beginning of Abraham story in Genesis 12, Abraham who was called Abram at the time, just comes out of nowhere, like the Bible just starts talking about him all of a sudden. And God promises to bless him. Some commentators even think Abraham may have been a pagan at first, he certainly lived amongst the pagans. There is no reason given why God blesses him. He just does. That is grace. Grace from the very beginning. What’s even more amazing about this story is that God seals this promise to Abraham with a covenant. We call this the Abrahamic covenant. Abraham is asleep during it. God does it himself. This reveals that God’s blessing is not dependent on the works of man but only on the work have God. Abraham could not create a nation for himself. He and his wife are almost 100 years old at the time. He had to put his faith in God. The Abrahamic Covenant does not come to an end when Abraham dies.
Because his verse 16 says, it was made to Abraham and his seed, which ultimately is Christ, and through Christ, all who have faith. It does not end when the law is given. It was an unconditional promise of blessing. So Paul writes, to the Galatians, and to us, that the blessing comes through faith. The blessing comes through faith, that this reality better and bigger than we can imagine, comes through faith. Faith. Faith is belief that God can bring about his promise, no matter the obstacle. No matter what lies in my way, I have faith that God will bring this about faith. Hebrews 11, one says, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. This is the nature of faith. It’s what prompted Abraham to obey God. When he was told to sacrifice his son Isaac. He had faith that God would either provide a substitute which he did, or he would even raise Isaac from the dead. It was true of Jacob, when he wrestled with the angel of the Lord. He said, I won’t let go until you bless me. Holding on to faith, no matter what lies in my way, holding on to faith. This is Faith. It is a result of believing God’s promise, this blessing that awaits us. It is this faith that somehow allows us to be counted as righteous. Verse 11, says, The righteous shall live by faith. God will make a way to the blessing. You just have to have faith. Do you have faith this morning. So as we walk from the Abrahamic Covenant towards the ultimate blessing that was promised, we must deal with another covenant. This one is the Mosaic Covenant, the law first given to Moses. So long list of actions that God requires for his people in the Old Testament. Now most scholars identify three aspects of the law, the moral law, such as the 10 commandments, the ceremonial law, like ritual cleanliness, and uncleanliness. The civil law, guidelines for the operation of society. In all of these things, distinguished Israel, as holy and set apart by God, from the ungodly, neighboring nations, and it was this law that the Judaizers were requiring Christians to follow in Galatia. See, the law also points to the blessing. But this covenant is conditional. Obedience to the law brings blessings. But disobedience to the law brings curses. You can read about this in Deuteronomy chapter 28. So a lot hinges on how we are to understand the law, and the purpose of the law.
The Judaizers at Galatia believe that the law was god’s way to the blessing. Doing these things makes me righteous so that I can receive the blessing. But listen to Paul’s words again in verses 10 through 12. He says, 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. See the law was not the way to the blessing. It just revealed how far away we are from it. Don’t think it’s a coincidence that the law was given to the people at the foot of a mountain. The law puts us next to the mountain of holiness that God requires and shows us that we do not measure up. We are not as set apart as we should be. Paul tells us that the law was never intended to bring us to the top. But it would make us realize that we are at the bottom. Rather, as a towering authority the law keeps watch over our every move, showing us in increasing measure our inadequacy? Have you noticed that human effort has not brought us the ultimate blessing? Do we live in a utopian world that so many throughout history have sought to achieve? Has human ingenuity and innovation read our world of heinous crimes in sinful thinking? Has your good behavior resulted in a perfect home with perfect kids in a perfect house that you so desperately want? Or did you get in an argument on the way to church this morning? Did you think a lustful thought last evening did your heart sink the latest news story? Have you seen the effects of age and sickness on a once healthy body?
Now we see the curses. Curses are merely the opposite of blessings. We experience curses brokenness in this world. Because it is a consequence of and punishment for sin. Now please hear me. Not all brokenness that you experience in your life is a direct result of your sin. But it is a result of the presence of sin in the world. The same sin that is in you. The things that we experience now are just samples of things to come. Blessings point us to the ultimate blessing to paradise. Curses point us to the ultimate curse. The wrath of God experienced in hell. Verse 10, says cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law and do them can circle all things, all things? This is why verse 11 says no one is justified before God by the law. Circle no one knows two things connect. No one is justified by the law because no one can abide by all things written in the law. Listen, we can’t, we can’t even live up to our own moral conscience. What’s less the law of God? Since we are unable to live by the law, we will die by it. The law reveals the great obstacle in receiving the ultimate blessing. You and me. What’s ironic is that the Judaizers missed how the act of circumcision actually points to this truth. It was a physical reminder that in order to be set apart as holy, our sinful fleshly desires must be cut off. We cannot receive the blessing on our own. Our own good works would have us be cut off, like the flaming swords that guard the way back to Eden. God must somehow rid us of ourselves. We are the problem. So why would we ever think that we are also the answer to the problem? The wall is simply a set of requirements, of rules, things to do, and not do. If this is the way to blessing, you’re actually putting faith in you. In your ability to obey, not in God. That’s what Paul means in this section. faith in yourself through the law is really a curse, and will result in the ultimate curse. Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you will notice a problem that arises when we try to fit together our understanding of the blessing in relation to the Abrahamic covenant, faith in the promise, and the Mosaic Covenant, the law How can God keep his promise of the ultimate blessing, but also uphold his standard in the wall? Like, I know we must have faith in God, but how is he going to accomplish this? When the law stands in our way? What is the way to the blessing if we are the problem and receiving it? John 14 Six, Jesus says to Thomas, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Faith in Christ is the way to the blessing. Faith in Christ is the way to the blessing. Paul says it like this in verses 13 and 14.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. Underline that. For it is written curse 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. When I was in college, I did not go to a Christian college it was a very small secular, secular liberal arts school. I thought it’d be fun to take a couple of religion classes there. I remember in one of the classes, we did a series of field trips. Field trips to local churches. So what a great opportunity for those churches, right to have 20 Something kids from a local college, almost all of which are not Christians. Come and listen to a pastor explain what they believe, for probably an hour. I distinctly remember this one church that we went to. After the pastor’s talk was over, we had a time for questions, and a girl raised her hand. She asked the pastor, she said, other than Jesus being God, which that’s quite the qualifier to begin with, other than Jesus being God. What makes Jesus death different than any other martyr? It’s a great question, isn’t it? The pastor thought for a moment. and he looked back at her. He said, I guess nothing. That’s what he said. This text tells us that arm across Jesus took upon himself the full wrath of God. See, it wasn’t just the physical pain of the cross. Certainly there have been other martyrs who have died in painful ways, just as painful if not more painful, perhaps. church tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down. What separates the death of Jesus, from the depth of every other martyr in history is that he took upon himself the full wrath of God on the cross. Think about this. All of the worst things that we just taste here. All of the on fruitfulness. Broken relationships, physical pain, this displacement, anxiety, exposure, darkness. death. Jesus experienced the fullest extent of those things as He hung on the cross. The weight of eternal wrath displayed publicly as guilty. A symbol of punishment placed between two murderers. Curse is everyone who is hung on a tree through Adam and Eve, sinful humanity. The curse came from the tree. But in Christ, perfect humanity. The curse was hung back on it.
So that in Christ Jesus, the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise Spirit through faith. Jesus resurrection three days later, is the proof that he accomplished this on our behalf that the law that brings the ultimate curse no longer has power over us. So to the Judaizers of Galatia offering the hope of circumcision. Jesus was cut off so that you don’t have to be and to us today, Jesus experienced something worse than you can possibly imagine. so that you can receive something better than you ever dared to hope for. Jesus received the curse of the law. In even though he and he alone was perfectly obedient to the law, in both thought and action, he did everything that we could not. In so doing, he fulfilled the law. This means he met its demands. He completed the requirements, and paid the penalty. Everything that we owed to it. He gave up everything you owe to us we receive. Jesus rendered the wall powerless to condemn. So what remains? Blessing? This is the great truth of the gospel. So, does the blessing. Come through faith? Or works? The Abrahamic covenant, or the Mosaic Covenant? Through the cross of Christ? The answer is both. He shows us how to reconcile these two things that appear to be in tension with nails in his hands. We receive the blessing through faith in Christ works. When we put our faith in Jesus, we receive the astonishing blessing first made to Abraham. We trust in his works, and not ours. We trust in His perfection and not ours, we see that he took the curse. So we might receive the blessing. For those of you who have never put your faith in Christ, this is the offer for you today. Do you see his love for you? Do you hear his call to you? All you need to do is trust him. To those of us who do have faith in Christ, let the message of the cross be a reminder that God does make a way he makes a way through the sinfulness of our own hearts by sending His own Son This is the extent that God goes to to make a way for us so we can trust Him with everything. The small blessings friendships, homes, marriage, children remind us of the infinitely better ultimate blessing that awaits.
In the curses losing a job sickness broken relationships. Death remind us that the ultimate curse was laid upon Jesus. So you don’t have to experience it. The blessing is ours. The blessing is ours. And Jesus is the way. Let’s pray. Heavenly father we thank you for Word to us this morning for those of us who hear it all the time, and maybe some who have heard it the first time or help us to put our faith in you to know that you have made a way for us to receive more than we could ever hope for or imagine because you sent your Son to die on the cross to become a curse for us. So Father, we turn our eyes to the cross we see your love for us, displayed there we we continue to fix our eyes on you as we do. We continue to stir our affections towards you more than we love you. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.