Gal_3:13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.
THE law, which subjects all mankind to a curse, is the moral law; that is principally intended in the passage before us [Note: It is that law, from the curse of which Abraham and the Gentiles were redeemed, ver. 10; and consequently, though the ceremonial law be not entirely excluded, the text must be understood principally in reference to the moral law.]: it remains unalterable in its demands of obedience or punishment. But in the Gospel a remedy is provided for transgressors: this remedy is proposed to us in the text.
Clear up some points relative to redemption—
The most important truths of Christianity are often denied; but we must be established in them, if we would receive the blessings of redemption. We should know clearly,
What is that “curse” from which we are redeemed—
[Many suppose it to be annihilation, or at most a temporary punishment; but the Scriptures represent it in a far different light: we cannot precisely declare the exact quality of it; it consists, however, partly in banishment from God [Note: 2Th_1:9.], and partly in inconceivable anguish both of soul and body [Note: Luk_16:23-24.]. Its duration certainly will be eternal; it will continue coeval with the happiness of the righteous
[Note: Mat_25:46. á
is used respecting both.]; neither the curse shall cease, nor sinners cease to endure it [Note: Our Lord repeats this no less than five times in six verses, Mar_9:43-48.].]
Who is it that redeems us from it—
[It is thought by many that we must deliver ourselves by repentance, &c. But it is impossible for fallen man to deliver his own soul: he cannot by doing, because he cannot perfectly obey the law in future; and if he could, his obedience would not atone for past sins [Note: The ceasing to increase a debt will not cancel a debt already incurred: see Luk_17:10.]: he cannot by suffering, because the penalty of one sin is eternal death. Nor could the highest archangel redeem the world; if he could, God needed not to have sent his own Son. None but “Christ” was sufficient for so great a work; but his obedience unto death has effected our redemption; he “made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness [Note: Dan_9:24.].”]
Who they are that shall enjoy the benefits of redemption—
[Many imagine that, because Christ has died for all, all shall be saved; but redemption is by no means so extensive as the curse. With respect to heathens we know little how God will deal with them; but we know what will be his conduct towards the Christian world: they who believe in Christ, and they only, will be finally saved [Note: Mar_16:16. The faith here spoken of is not a mere assent to the truths of Christianity, but a living, operative, and purifying faith, Act_15:9. Jam_2:20; Jam_2:26.]; such alone were comprehended under the term “us.”]
These points being cleared up, we shall,
Shew by what means we are redeemed—
By the Mosaic law persons hanged were deemed accursed [Note: Deu_21:23.]. Hence Christ, in his death, was “made a curse” or held accursed [Note: See the words immediately following the text.]. In becoming a curse, he was our substitute—
[Christ did not die merely for our good; he endured the curse in our stead. This was typically represented under the Mosaic law [Note: Lev_16:7-10; Lev_16:21-22. It is impossible not to see in this passage that the scape-goat had the iniquities of the Jewish nation transferred to him, while the goat that died made atonement for them.]: — — — the prophets concur in establishing this truth [Note: Dan_9:26. “Not for himself,” Isa_53:5.]; — — — the Apostles confirm it in the plainest terms [Note: 2Co_5:21. 1Pe_2:24; 1Pe_3:18.] — — — His curse indeed was not the same with ours, either in quality or duration; yet it was fully adequate to all the demands of law and justice; and it was such as God appointed for him, and accepts on our behalf.]
This substitution of Christ was the mean of effecting our redemption—
[God ordained it for this very end [Note: Rom_3:25.]. He was pleased with it in this view [Note: Eph_5:2.]. He was reconciled to man on account of it [Note: Rom_5:10.]. Our redemption is expressly ascribed to it [Note: Eph_1:7.]. Our deliverance from the guilt and power of sin is effected by it [Note: Heb_9:13-14.]. It was the price paid for the salvation of the church [Note: Act_20:28. with 1Co_6:20.].]
How great was the love of Christ towards our fallen race!
[That he who was happy in the bosom of his Father should become a curse! That he should submit to such misery in our place and stead! Well might that anathema be denounced against the ungrateful [Note: 1Co_16:22.]—Let us then study to “comprehend the heights and depths of his love.”]
What folly and impiety is it to seek justification by the law!
[When the moral law was once broken, it was absolutely impossible that any man should be justified by it [Note: Gal_3:21.]. There remained no way of escaping its curse but by embracing the Gospel [Note: Gal_3:22.]. What folly then is it to reject salvation when it is freely offered, and to seek it in a way in which it cannot be found! Nor is the impiety of the conduct less than the folly. It declares that the sacrifice of Christ was unnecessary, or ineffectual. This conduct proved destructive to the bulk of the Jewish nation [Note: Rom_9:31-32; Rom_10:3.]. May we never imitate them to our eternal ruin!]
How strong are the Christian’s obligations to holiness!
[Christ did not die to deliver us from the curse only, but from sin also [Note: Tit_2:11.]. Shall we hope to attain one end of his death while we defeat the other? We should reject such a thought with the utmost abhorrence [Note: Rom_6:1.]. Let every one then strive to attain the disposition of St. Paul [Note: 2Co_5:14-15.]—]