I am perplexed.
No, I’m saddened more than perplexed that it took me so long to understand what it meant when Christ died for me.
For years I’ve tried to measure up to the “Thou shall not’s” and frankly I failed… miserably. But now I know.
Know what? You might ask.
I now know the value of Christ’s sacrifice.
He died so that I could live guilt free, pain free and worry free. Why?
Simple, the curse of the law no longer applies to me or my failures (Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— ). So, what does that mean?
To me, it means that when I fail (and I often do) the punishment dictated by the “Thou shall not’s” as well as the other mandates of religious law are no longer applicable to me. Galatians 3:10 says that the law itself is a curse and all who live by it are under its curse:
[Amplified] And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them.
The difference in those who try to obtain righteousness through right living and what Jesus did is clearly depicted in the story of the adulteress. That’s where the true heart of Jesus and God are revealed (at least it was to me). Those inflicted with a religious spirit caught a woman in the act of adultery and brought her before Jesus to coerce him into condemning her.
There they stood with stone in hand just waiting for the one they called the teacher to justify their judgment of her or give them cause to condemn him for violating the law himself. But Jesus saw their intention and upheld the law while he extended a hand of grace to the woman at the same time.
He uttered one of the most familiar phrases in the Bible (though I would suggest to you it’s also one of the most misunderstood chapters of the Bible as well). “He who is without sin cast the first stone” was all that he needed to say for them to condemn themselves instead of the woman or Jesus. It was Jesus who was without sin and under the law had the justification to stone the woman, but his heart was for her redemption long before he gave his life for her.
“Where are your accusers” he asked her. “Has no one condemned you?” And all she could say as she answered him was “No one Lord”.
In that moment she knew he was her Lord but then Jesus went even further to clarify his intentions for her when he said to her “Neither do I condemn you”. It was in that moment he also became her Savior. He could have condemned her and under law was required to condemn her, but he chose not to. Instead he gave her the gift of his Grace and then said simply “now go and sin no more”. Is this story Jesus demonstrates his heart for all of us! His Grace came before right living. Don’t you see, righteousness is a gift of Grace through Jesus that leads us to right living?
I see it so clearly now.
The curse of the law condemned the woman to be stoned to death. Jesus, when he offered his life for us took away the curse of that law and replaced it with Grace for our sins. In 1 John 2:1 it makes it clear I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin, BUT if anyone does sin, we have and advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
We are no longer expected to be perfect, instead we should allow ourselves to be perfected under the Grace and Love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The battle between the Pharisees and the Christ followers rages on even today. Yes, it still lives on because when people uphold religious rules and then judge others for not being capable of the same, they are living the same life the Pharisees lived. The focus is on the law and not on Jesus.
But when we change our focus toward Jesus we are set free from a life of guilt and shame, pain and worry.
So what does Galatians 3:13 mean to me? It simply means I can live my life in freedom and allow God to refine me in the process.
I hope it means something similar for you.