10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[g] 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 hung on a pole.” 14He 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.
When a Christian asks a Muslims what his faith involves, chances are that he will give a list of all that he should do, should not do and everything in between. Sometimes Christians do the same. The youth says what their parents think: being a Christian means going to church on a Sunday, no swearing, and no cheating. That is all important. But as such, the core of God’s Word remains unmentioned.
In yesterday’s bible reading Paul reverts to the first bible book twice. In the verses we have just read, he uses the fifth book of Moses once and again. He starts with the last verse of Deuteronomy 27: “Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Subsequently the end of chapter 21: “anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.” In between he cites Leviticus 18:5: “Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them.”
Whoever considers God’s ‘do’s and don’ts’ – “honor…” and “you shall not…” – as if his life depends on it, has not understood the gospel in the Law and the Prophets. No man can justify him- or herself. Everyone is intrinsically a damned sinner. The Old Testament is one call for Christ, who came among us to hang on a pole. Only when you believe what God promises, will things turn out right. Nothing new either. Habakkuk said it already: “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness”. (2:4). Trust in God who gave his Son as “culmination of the law” (Rom. 10:4).
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.