Is God’s Law a Curse?

The belief that the “Law is a curse”, is a doctrine that has been handed down for many generations in Christianity. Each New born Christian is taught one way, or the other, that the Law is useless, done away and even a curse. They are taught that whoever “obeys/does” the Law of God is “under a curse”. The proof for this idea comes from the letters of Paul – “the misunderstood apostle” as I call him. Today, we will delve into the Scriptures in hope of uncovering the truth behind his words and clear out any misunderstandings these verses have created.

Let us review the words of Paul that have been misinterpreted by most Christians
Gal 3:10 
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Gal 3:11 
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Gal 3:12  
And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Life&DeathReading the above, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that whoever obeys “God’s Law” is “under a curse” and that the “Law is a curse”. If many more Christians knew the context of Scripture, that Paul himself is quoting the Old Testament here, and understood the Covenant God made with His people, these misunderstandings would cease to exist. The core of this misunderstanding lies in not knowing that God set forth both Blessing & Curses, and Life & Death, when He made the Covenant with His people.

 

The Blessings & Curses of the Law
When God made the Covenant at Sinai & confirmed it at Horeb, He set forth Blessings & Curses before His people. If the people obeyed, they would be blessed. If the people disobeyed, they would be cursed.

Deu 11:26-28 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
Deu 30:15,19 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Deu 29:21 And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law:
Dan 9:11  Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
Jos 8:34  And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.

Read the list of Blessings for obedience(keeping His Covenant by obeying God’s Law) in Deut 28:1-14 & Lev 26:1-13

Read the list of Curses for disobedience(breaking His Covenant by disobeying God’s Law) in Deut 28:15-68 & Lev 26:14-39

The above verses are clear on the fact that God set forth blessings and curses for the ones who obey or disobey.
Life, good & Blessings were for the obedient.
Death, evil & Curses were for the disobedient.
This was the Law of God. The Law of God could save no one. Neither did it have a mind of its own. It was merely a set of instructions to live by. Whoever lived by them had life, good & blessings, while whoever disobeyed had death, evil & curses on their lives.

Now let’s  focus our attention on what Paul wrote about, in Gal 3:10-13

Gal 3:10
Paul quotes Deut 27:26 saying that whoever “does not continue/does not abide” in God’s Law is “cursed”. Deut 27:26 reads “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Also read Jer 11:3, Eze 18:24)

Gal 3:11
Paul differentiates the Law & Faith, saying no one will be justified through the Law of God but by faith quoting Hab 2:4 “the just/righteous shall live by faith” in God. This is exactly what the Prophet Habakkuk spoke through the Spirit, in Hab 2:4 which reads “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Gal 3:12
Paul furthers his argument saying that the Law has no connection to faith, but that whoever does/obeys the Law will live in them (will have life through it) quoting Lev 18:5 “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.” (Also read Neh 9:29, Eze 20:11,13)

Gal 3:13
Then, Paul goes onto explain an important point that is the root of this misunderstanding. It is important to note that, it is not the fault of Paul but our own, that we have misunderstood this for so long. Paul says that through Christ’s death on the cross, He has redeemed us from the curse of the law. It is clear that Paul is not calling “God’s Law” a curse. He is simply saying that Christ redeemed us from the “Curse OF THE Law”.

What was the curse of the Law? The Curse of the Law was that whoever disobeyed/sinned would die(Eze 18:24). Sin led man to death(Rom 5:12). We know what Sin is, only through the Law(Rom 7:7)

What did Christ redeem us from? He redeemed us from death which was the wages of Sin(Rom 6:23). Paul was right to say that Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) saved us from the Curse of the Law, as the “Curse of the Law = Death”.

A short review of the points made by Paul in the above 4 verses;
• Whoever does not obey God’s Law is cursed (Gal 3:10/Deut 27:26)
• The righteous are not justified before God, through Law, but by Faith (Gal 3:11/Hab 2:4)
• The Law is different to Faith, but who “obeys/does” the Law will have life(Gal 3:12/Lev 18:5). So, conversely, if someone does not obey/do the Law, they will have death.
• But Through Christ’s sacrifice we are free from the curse of the Law, which is Death(Gal 3:13). Not that we can be disobedient to Him, but that we would have grace & mercy, through repentance, whenever we fall short of obeying God’s Law.

With the above understanding, let’s review Gal 3:10-13
Paul has made his case that no one is “justified/made righteous” before God through the Law, but by having Faith in God. But he has also said that whoever disobeys God’s Law is under a curse. Even though we are “justified/made righteous” through faith, Obedience to God’s Law is necessary to not be under the curse of Death. In other words, We are saved/justified/made righteous through Faith, but our obedience to God & His Laws decides whether we stay under His favour/grace and obtain Life eternal. Just because someone who believes in God’s mercy, is saved, does not mean he/she can go on disobeying God and still have His favour/grace towards him/herself. But, whenever we fall short, and break His Law (Sin), we are now not under the curse of the Law, because Christ has taken the Curse, which is Death, on Himself.

“Sin” or “Disobedience” against God is the “breaking of God’s Law” (1Jn 3:4  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.) This could be written as a simple equation as given below;

COMMITTING SIN = BREAKING GOD’S LAW brings CURSE OF THE LAW = DEATH
LIVING RIGHTEOUSLY = OBEYING GOD’S LAW brings BLESSING OF THE LAW = LIFE

Because of Christ, even when we break The Law, we can still receive mercy through repentance, and not be under the “Curse of the Law” which is Death.

Conclusion
Paul never called God’s Law, “a curse”. This is a man-made doctrine which has existed in the Christian congregations, from as early as the 3rd Century AD. The “Curse of the Law” was Death, which was the wage needed to be paid for Sin. Through Christ’s intervention and death, He took this curse on Himself, giving us freedom from Death and passage to eternal Life. Our Messiah did not take away the Law through His death. He took away the “Curse of the Law” through His death. We receive salvation through Faith, and not by keeping God’s Law. This was the same with the people of Israel, as they were saved from Egypt & Slavery through God’s Grace & Mercy, and not because of any righteousness they had. After they were saved, God wanted obedience from them. This is the same pattern seen throughout the Scriptures. We are also required to be obedient towards our Heavenly Father after He saves us through His grace. And whenever we fall short, He still has mercy towards the repentant, because of the redemption work of Messiah Yeshua.

We cannot call the Law of God, a curse, as it is only a guide on how we should live. The choice is upto us. We can choose to live in the blessings or to die in the curses. We cannot blame God’s Law for the choices we make. Let us walk in the “Blessings of the Law” by being obedient to our Creator and choose life Eternal, for He has paid the ultimate price for our lives, so that we are never under the “Curse of Law”, which is death.

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14 thoughts on “Is God’s Law a Curse?

  1. Dr. Vinicio Cornejo

    I have enjoyed reading several of your blogs including this one. I agree with all that I have read so far (e.g. Passover vs. Good Friday, First day of The Week”), however in this article there is one thing that appears to be a contradiction and therefore unbiblical. You state and I quote “In other words, We are saved/justified/made righteous through Faith, but our obedience to God & His Laws decides whether we stay under His favour/grace and obtain Life eternal”. It is God alone who decides in His sovereignty whom He wills to have mercy upon. Our obedience to His Law is the evidence that testifies that we are indeed under His favour and grace. I assume that you would agree that a statement can not contradict itself and still be true. While I agree that we can not say we are saved, and yet continue in disobedience to the law of God, it is most certainly not our obedience that decides if we continue in the favour and grace of God. If that were the case then grace would no longer be grace, for grace is unmerited favour. If we continue in disobedience to the Law of God, despite our claims of salvation, it is evident that we were never made righteous in the first place and not that we once, but no longer have the UNMERITED favor (grace) of God. Rom 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”.

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Hi Dr. Cornejo,
      I am glad that you have read this blog, and I thank God for people like you, that have the heart to read and check their own doctrines to God’s Word.

      I agree that God alone decides who He has mercy upon… but that mercy/grace/favour is given to people who turn towards Him in belief of the great sacrifice He did through our Messiah. The whole world does not receive His grace, but the ones who accept Him. We are most definitely saved through His Grace alone. But after we are saved, we need to be obedient children of our Heavenly Father. What you have said is so true “If we continue in disobedience to the Law of God, despite our claims of salvation, it is evident that we were never made righteous in the first place and not that we once, but no longer have the UNMERITED favor (grace) of God”. The problem is that the majority of Christians think that after we receive His Grace, that there is no way we can lose it, and furthermore, that since the Law is done away, in their minds, they continue to believe doing what is right in their own mind, is enough to remain in God’s Grace. The simple fact that SIN = breaking God’s LAW is invalidated by centuries of erroneous Christian Doctrine. This is the issue at hand – what is disobedience in God’s eyes? I believe disobedience in God’s eyes is the breaking of even the least of the Commandments/Laws given by God. This is what I meant by “We are saved/justified/made righteous through Faith, but our obedience to God & His Laws decides whether we stay under His favour/grace and obtain Life eternal”. I believe it is not guaranteed that all Christians who start believing God will enter Life eternal. It will be a handful who walk on the narrow path. the difficult path. who enter through the narrow gate. It is not because of our strength, that we can enter, but because of His Grace for sure – But whether we walk on the narrow path is upto each of us.

      Forgive me for writing such a long comment, and I hope I have made sense (my intention has not been to be preachy). We might not agree on everything, and that is OK, as each of us are on our personal journey towards Him. My hope is that we learn from each other and help each other in what we agree and not be divided in what we disagree.

      May you be a shining light and a blessing towards all around you, like our forefather Abraham.
      Love
      Ramesh

      Reply
      1. Kamlalmuan Guité

        As Dr. VINICIO has already said, I too feel that it is unbiblical and out of the gospel to say, …”but our obedience to God & His Laws decides whether we stay under His favour/grace and obtain Life eternal”

        I really wonder if you really have experience salvation by grace. If you have spiritually have gone through romans 7 as paul did, and he later realized who he was and wrote likewise in Romans 7:24 KJV
        O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

        Brother, we are saved by grace alone. Starting from grace and will end in grace. It has nothing to do with works. If you added upon the finished work of Christ, YOU ARE A FALSE PREACHER.

      2. rameshdesilva Post author

        Dear Kamlalmuan,

        I know what you are saying, as I was taught the same. God’s Law is no more! We are under Grace! and the doctrines go on. Only a person who can be critical about his own beliefs can know the truth. I believe many of us never question or audit our beliefs.
        Questioning what you know cannot yield bad results, as if you are right – you are built up in the faith. If what you believe is wrong, it will still put you on a closer path to God.

        Questions to ponder on:
        1. Is the 10 commandments no more?
        2. Was the mosaic Covenant abolished by Yeshua?
        3. Why did Paul keep the Law?
        4. If he was teaching against it whilst keeping it, doesn’t that make him a hypocrite?
        5. Why did Peter issue a warning about Paul’s writings?
        6. What was Scripture to the 1st century believer? Is it what we call the New Testament or the Old?
        7. What is Sin? Is it not the transgression of Law?

        I am NOT saying we are saved by our Obedience to God or obeying of Commandments. All I am saying is that we need to be obedient after we are saved through Grace. Coincidentally, this was the same issue Paul addresses in many of his letters – Justification through Law.

        I count myself blessed to be called a False Preacher by many, if it is only to bring a correct understanding of the scriptures to even a few. After all, even Messiah was called a false preacher.

        Be a blessing to everyone around you!

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  8. David Rand

    Good day!
    With regards to your statement…”We are saved/justified/made righteous through Faith, but our obedience to God & His Laws decides whether we stay under His favour/grace and obtain Life eternal”, would you be able to point me to the Scripture that you are using to make this statement? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. rameshdesilva Post author

      Dear David,
      Here is what I see in the Old Testament Scriptures and the Writings of the New Testament.

      The Law of God was given to us to know what sin is(Rom 7:7). The breaking of the Law is Sin(1Jn 3:4). It exists to point us towards what is right and wrong. If we do the right thing according to the Law of God, we are blessed with life – while disobedience to it brings the curse of Death(Deut 30:19). No man is justified/made righteous through the Law of God(Psa 143:2, Gal 3:11) as a person who keeps the whole law, yet break even one, he becomes guilty of all(Jas 2:10). We are not saved by keeping God’s Law, but through the faith we put in God, and the Grace He shows towards us(Rom 4:2-4). But that does not make God’s Law void(Rom 3:31). After we are saved through the Grace of the Father, we need to be obedient to His Law(1Jn 2:4, 3:24). Faith which exists without the practicing of His Word/Law, is dead faith(Jas 2:20).

      May you be a great blessing to everyone around you!

      Reply
  9. Thomas Daniel

    Thank you, Ramesh! Good article.
    Is it not interesting that we have this tendency to attack the Law of God? Yet the law is engraved in the very fabric of creation and creation abide by it. Everything in creation abides by the laws of God without questioning them, but we who have the FREE WILL, choose to question them and find ways to disobey them. It started in the Garden of Eden and still continues, is it not? We all fall for the deception and delusion orchestrated by the Father of lies.

    I grew up learning statements like ‘the law is done away with’, ‘law is a curse’, ‘Christ abolished the law’, ‘we do not need Old testament’ etc. Yet I knew there is something wrong when we disregard the Old Testament, which Jesus and others referred to as ‘The Scripture’. My curiosity took me back to Old Testament and to study more carefully.

    It is dangerous to draw a conclusion from Pauline Epistles alone, especially when Paul never intended that way either. Paul never contradicted Old Testament. Jesus kept the law, followed the festivals so did Paul throughout his life. If you read Acts 21: 17 – 26, it very clear that Paul lived and taught in obedience to the Law.

    Grace is not against the Law and the Law is not against grace, either. But, it works together for our benefit. Grace does not replace law nor the need to be in obedience to the Law. It is a wrong expectation that we can have the ‘Deut 28’ blessings without being obedient to the law. While it is true that we in our flesh we cannot fulfill the requirements of the law, but in Christ we do it through Grace. Christ took away the wages of sin, death, the curse that brings by disobeying the law. Love grace, love the Law of the Lord because it transforms our souls and makes the simple wise.

    Blessings

    Thomas

    Reply

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