The Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Galatians 3:7-14

The Curse

The Galatians who had responded to Paul’s gospel preaching of salvation by grace through faith were now falling away unto an anti-gospel of salvation by works through the influence of some agitators who were insisting that they receive circumcision and other prescriptions of the Mosaic code.  Paul had no problem with those Jews saved by grace who chose to follow through with circumcision and the dietary laws as was their custom as Jews.  But he had a major problem with imposing such matters on Gentiles and especially under the guise that such was necessary for salvation.  Such law-keeping was the very opposite of salvation by grace, and he would fight it tooth and nail.

And Paul’s method of fighting this false understanding was through Scripture, which is always the best way of fighting heresy.  He turns to Deuteronomy 27:26 to show just how demanding the law really is: “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law and do them.”  Thus, everyone who relies on works of the law for salvation is actually laboring under a curse.  So it is then obvious that by such works no one shall be justified (made right) before God but only by faith—which is exactly how Abraham, the father of the Jews, was saved.  Moreover, we look not to the law for justification but to Jesus who took the curse of the law on himself by hanging from a tree, citing again Deuteronomy 21:23.  What this means is that the law-keeper became a curse for us by taking all of our “law-breakings” (i.e., sins) upon himself in our stead.  In theology this is called our Lord’s “substitutionary atonement” whereby he reconciles us unto the Father through his own cleansing blood.  He thereby releases us from the curse of the law, which is expressed by law-keeping, and frees us by rebirth through the Holy Spirit. 

And so we are confronted by the gospel of grace and the anti-gospel of works; indeed, anything other than the gospel of grace which Paul and all the apostles preached is an anti-gospel.  And this gospel is all predicated upon our Savior’s work on the cross to which our sins were nailed once and for all.  So please be careful that you do not fall back under the curse from which you were released.  You will never be good enough; you will never be able to do enough.  Your conscience will never be clear before the law; it is a slave driver by nature, and a cruel one.  Trust in Christ, cling to him; let his righteousness be your only plea.  Then shall you be free to serve others in love without fear and with a clear conscience.  Cursed be the curse.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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