William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

The Curse Of The Law (Galatians 3:10-14)

3:10-14 All who depend on the deeds which the law lays down are under a curse, for it stands written, "Cursed is everyone who does not consistently obey and perform all the things written in the book of the law." It is clear that no one ever gets into a right relationship with God by means of this legalism, because, as the Bible says, "It is the man who is right with God through faith who will live." But the law is not based on faith. And yet the scripture says.. "The man who does these things will have to live by them." Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming accursed for us--for it stands written, "Cursed is every man who is hanged on a tree." And this all happened so that in Christ Abraham's blessing should come to the Gentiles, and so that we might receive the promised Spirit by means of faith.

Paul's argument seeks to drive his opponents into a corner from which there is no escape. "Suppose," he says, "you decide that you are going to try to win God's approval by accepting and obeying the law, what is the, inevitable consequence?" First of all, the man who does that has to stand or fall by his decision; if he chooses the law he has got to live by it. Second, no man ever has succeeded and no man ever will succeed in always keeping the law. Third, if that being so, you are accursed, because scripture itself says ( Deuteronomy 27:26 ) that the man who does not keep the whole law is under a curse. Therefore, the inevitable end of trying to get right with God by making the law the principle of life is a curse.

But scripture has another saying, "It is the man who is right with God by faith who will really live" ( Habakkuk 2:4 ). The only way to get into a right relationship with God, and therefore the only way to peace, is the way of faith. But the principle of law and the principle of faith are antithetic; you cannot direct your life by both at one and the same time; you must choose; and the only logical choice is to abandon the way of legalism and to venture upon the way of faith, of taking God at his word and of trusting in his love.

How can we know that this is so? The final guarantor of its truth is Jesus Christ; and to bring this truth to us he had to die upon a Cross. Now, scripture says that every man who is hanged on a tree is accursed ( Deuteronomy 21:23 ); and so to free us of the curse of the law, Jesus himself had to become accursed.

Even at his most involved, and here he is involved, one simple yet tremendous fact is never far from the mind and heart of Paul--the Cost of the Christian gospel. He could never forget that the peace, the liberty, the right relationship with God that we possess, cost the life and death of Jesus Christ, for how could men ever have known what God was like unless Jesus Christ had died to tell them of his great love.

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible