Redemption from the Curse
James Smith, 1865
"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Galatians 3:13
As creatures we are all under law. The formalities of the law may vary--but its essential principles are the same. The law commands us. It tells us what God requires of us. It demands that we be holy, just, and good. That we love God supremely, and others us as ourselves. It threatens disobedience. It condemns the sinner. Its condemnation is called a curse. It dooms us to punishment. To be punished with separation from God, and to endure torment in proportion to the nature, number, and magnitude of our crimes. We are condemned, because we have violated the law. It was given to our first parent, as our representative. It was impressed on his nature, and notwithstanding our depravity, there is a partial copy of it in our nature still. If conscience accuses us, it is because it recognizes a rule, it perceives that we have violated it, and it accuses and brings us in guilty accordingly.
The Jews had the law in a peculiar form. The moral law was united with the ceremonial law. There was the standard of moral rectitude--but there was also a typical representation of how sin may be pardoned, and the sinner be saved. But the Scripture has concluded that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin: under its power, and under condemnation for it. The law pronounces a curse upon us all, because we have all sinned. The curse which the law pronounces is just--and therefore must be executed. If it is executed upon us, we are ruined forever.
Here then is our dilemma. We have sinned, the law curses and condemns us, its curse and condemnation are righteous--and if executed upon us, we are undone forever. How then can we escape eternal punishment? The text gives the answer. Let us attend to it with faith and gratitude.
"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." To redeem is to deliver. To deliver righteously, by the payment of a price--or meeting the demand in order to emancipate. In our case, the curse must be executed. The penalty must be paid. We could never pay it ourselves--but the righteous Lawgiver and Governor was willing to accept of a substitute, to allow someone to suffer in our stead.
But whoever undertakes for us, must be able to endure what would be inflicted, and so act as to deserve our liberation. There must not only be suffering--but meritorious suffering.
Here was the difficulty: Who has love enough to undertake to suffer for us? Who if he undertakes to suffer--could thereby merit our release? The answer to these questions--is JESUS. Our dear and adorable Lord Jesus, had love enough to move Him to become our substitute, and as our substitute--He could effect our everlasting deliverance. He therefore, who was divine--took our nature and became human. He who was in heaven--came and tabernacled upon earth. He not only took our nature--but our place. Becoming our substitute, He took our responsibilities upon Himself. He engaged to do all that the law demanded; and He engaged to suffer all that the law required. He met the demands of the law perfectly, and He suffered the penalty of the law fully. He was made a curse for us. The sentence was transferred from us--to Him. He was condemned in our stead. He died for our offences. By dying--He merited our release. His blood was our ransom-price. He came to give His life a ransom for many--and He gave it.
It was written in the law, "Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree." Jesus was hanged on a tree on Golgotha, and thus it was publicly proclaimed to all, that He was accursed. In himself He was the blessed God, and the source of blessing to all creation--but He became a curse, in order to become our Redeemer. Taking our nature--He became our kinsman, being our kinsman according to the law He had a right to redeem His kindred; having a right to redeem--He made use of it, and paid the price of our everlasting freedom. Blessed be His great, gracious, and glorious name forever!
What wonderful love the Savior must have possessed--to stoop so low, to suffer so much, to undertake such a work! What wonderful love must have filled the bosom of the Father--to give His Son for this purpose. To accept of His substitution. To allow the transfer of our guilt--to Him. To appoint Him to suffer as our Redeemer. Let us admire and adore the infinite, unparalleled love of our good and gracious God.
But are WE redeemed from the curse of the law? Was Jesus made a curse for US? These are solemn questions, and they ought to be settled. What says the Scriptures? for these must be our guide. "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." Am I a sinner? Do I deeply and habitually feel it? Am I humbled on account of it? Do I ardently and honestly desire to be saved from the power and consequences of sin? If so, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish--but have everlasting life." Do I believe on the Son of God? Do I so believe, as to commit my soul into His hands to be saved by Him? Do I so believe, as to trust in His blood alone for my pardon, as to rely on His finished work alone for my redemption? Do I so believe, as to resign myself to Him, to be used by Him for His glory, and be employed in His service to His praise?
If so, there is no doubt but Jesus has redeemed me from the curse of the law; and if He has redeemed me, I shall never be accursed of God, or suffer the punishment due to my transgressions. The law having been fulfilled by my substitute, justice being satisfied with the obedience and death of my Redeemer--I shall never be condemned; but shall be acquitted at God's bar, and be pronounced justified for His sake.
This is the gospel, the good news of redemption by the blood of Jesus. The glad tidings of deliverance from all curse and condemnation by simple faith in the Lord Jesus.
"All who believe are justified from all things." If Jesus has redeemed us, by being made a curse for us--we need not fear that we shall ever be accursed. Need not! We ought not. It is dishonorable to Him, and reflects upon the justice of our heavenly Father. "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."
We should not trifle with so glorious a subject, with such a solemn theme; but we should receive it with all seriousness, and believe it with all confidence.
We must not continue in sin. Faith in the death of Jesus, is the death of sin! No one can believe that Christ was made a curse for him, in order to redeem him from the curse of the law--and yet habitually indulge in sin! It is impossible. If our faith does not set us against sin, and inspire us with a love to holiness--it is not the faith of the operation of God, the faith that distinguishes God's elect. The faith that receives freedom from Christ, employs that freedom for Christ.
If Christ has suffered for us--we ought to be willing to suffer for Him; if He obeyed for us--we ought to obey Him; if He was accursed for us--we ought to be ready to be reproached, condemned, or accursed for Him.
May the Lord, the Holy Spirit, give us grace that we may prove to all around us, that Jesus has given himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify us unto himself, a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Reader, if you have no sincere faith in Jesus, you are still under the curse. You have no proof or evidence that Jesus died to redeem you, and if Jesus is not your Redeemer--you will be eternally undone. If Jesus was not made a curse for you--you will be accursed to all eternity. No one can deliver us from the curse of the law, but Jesus; and He only delivers those who believe on His name, rely on His blood, and walk by the precepts of His Word.