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The Laws that curse: A study in Grace
In our search
for the meaning and need for the law, we should probably start with the Old testament. I could be more conclusive using the full set of scriptures I have at my fingertips but I will settle with the standard cannon used by all Christian sects, even mine.
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.
The Law of Moses was a strict code that was slightly altered after the Children of Israel decided to worship a golden cow when Moses went up in the Mountain Sinai for the first set. The Children of Israel had been apostate for some time before Moses freed them from Pharaoh. God knew that he was going to sacrifice his son for the whole world through them in the fullness of time and institute the law of grace but still he gave the Children of Israel a law to follow and throughout the duration of their travels in the wilderness he sent the destroying angel to enforce that law. Why would he bother to enforce a law that didn't matter anyhow because it is grace that saves us right? Here in Joshua we have two sides of the law presented. There are the blessings and curses of the law that Joshua felt the need to read to the Israelites.
In Mathew 5, even knowing that Christ as he put it, didn't come to, "destroy the law but to fulfill it..." felt the need to expound on the law and to state, "Unless ye are more righteous then the Pharisees ye can in no way enter the kingdom of heaven." Christ, even knowing that he would sacrifice himself to institute the law of grace emphasized the need to obey not the law of Moses as it was written but to observe the spirit of the law that in some ways was more strict and invasive then the law of performances that the Sanhedrin felt the need to enforce by the sword if necessary.
They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;
Here it is obvious that Nehemiah understood that even though the laws of God were necessary, that they were a curse and a hindrance to the people if they were only preformed superficially.
Paul tries to clear up the question in Galatians chapter 3:
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, accursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
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.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the claw, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was badded because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all bone in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
I think really the confusion comes when people try to take limited passages from the scriptures and find that they have enough to make their point but not enough to subdue the questions that persist. If you read Paul's explanation in full and follow the logic that he is trying to get across to the people of Galatia it would seem that the curse of the law comes upon those who live the word of the law alone and they don't use the law to change their outlook.
When we let the law change us from carnal beings to people who genuinely care about each other and about the will of god without having to be chased by a whip and beaten into obedience then the law has no hold on us. Obedience to the spirit of the law and the purposes of the law and seeking to do God's will makes us beings who would never break the law because it isn't in our natures.
When I first started driving I, like everyone else paid a lot of attention to the solid yellow line on the right side of the road and the sometimes dotted and at other times solid yellow line on my left. I would try very hard to keep between these two lines but I found that the more I focused on doing that the more my car would weave. Inevitably I would cross one or the other lines. It was when my instructor noticed this habit that he gave me a valuable piece of advice that Paul, in Galatians is trying to get across. My instructor stated that looking in front of your cars nose doesn't work and will get you into a lot of trouble. If you pick a point in the road as near the horizon as you possibly can you will find after a time that you don't have to worry about the lines on the sides because your car will automatically correct for that and you will be able to drive straighter that way.
In life, there are cops or angels taking record of our actions on either side of the road. They bare witness of every time we stray outside the lines. We will have to answer for those mistakes if we don't correct them. If we however know where we want to go and emulate Christ in all our ways, acting as he would act and doing what he would do then we find that although the angels haven't changed in location, they have nothing bad to report and rather open the channels of blessings into our lives that help us have the strength to keep on the road as we are. We end up following the law without worrying about it and Christ can then plead our case before the Father for any shortcomings that leave us outside perfection which we won't have achieved flawlessly. Grace, however can then take over and the Spirit of God will manifest that we fulfilled our end of the covenant with God. Grace will then make our efforts to drive towards heaven enough and the changes in our nature permanent and eternal.