This is the one-hundred-seventy-seventh lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Galatians 3:13-14
It may come as a surprise that, of all the things God has freed us from, he has also freed us from “the curse of the law.” But didn’t God himself give “the law” on Mount Sinai through Moses? Don’t we need a law from God in order to define right and wrong and to keep us on track in life?
When parents raise their kids in order to instill a spiritual and moral compass, they have to keep things simple and concrete early on: “Don’t touch this. Don’t go there. Don’t steal your brother’s toys. Do obey.” When adolescence comes, parents hope their kids develop more of an understanding about why they should do this and not that. And then there’s that stage when a parent says: “I’ve taught as much as I can. You’re an adult now, and you’ll be making all your own decisions. You’re no longer under the rules of the house. You have to build your own home and family.”
That, in part, is what redemption from the law means. Or, as the apostle Paul says elsewhere, the “dying to the law.” God has said: it’s time to grow up. And not because we’re more morally capable today than the people of God in the Old Testament were, but because this dramatic thing has happened—God’s Son has come. He is our redemption—our liberator. He is the Jubilee. Blow the trumpet loudly!
But Christ has also liberated us from “the curse of the law.” In other words, that indictment on our heads resulted from comparing God’s righteous standards to the reality of our lives.
The moral law of the Old Testament, including the Ten Commandments, has tested us. We’ve come up short. But Jesus Christ came and made the sacrifice.
Think of one area of your life in which it’s time to grow above the rules and do something because it’s right rather than because you have to. For example, think about what you can do today to be a responsible driver. Be a responsible driver today not just to avoid a ticket, but because it’s the right thing to do.
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.