October 17, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Galatians 3)

Submitted by Ben K. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Galatians 3:10-14 (ESV)

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 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”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Verse 10 says that a person who relies on observing the law is under a curse.  In what ways is this true to my experience?  Describe the last time I felt myself under a curse or condemnation because I tried to earn my merits before God or others.

The last time I felt myself under a ‘curse’ because I was trying to earn my merits before God or others was in the context of ministry.  From the outside, it may have looked like I was fully engaged in the work we were doing, but internally I felt like something was off and I felt unhappy and discontent.  I had lost sight of the reason why I was doing ministry.  At one point I realized that I was passionless and that I was doing ministry tasks merely to please people.  I had lost sight of the grace of God and “relied on works of the law.”  In contrast, when I remember the grace I have received from God—when I remember my story of the sins that enslaved me, the freedom and forgiveness I experienced through the gospel, reconciliation with God, the hope of heaven—I feel very different.  I am excited about sharing the gospel with people, passionate in my ministry, and the focus is on doing whatever is best for those I am ministering to and honoring God.  My relationships with my leaders and others improve as well when I function under grace.  I am more honest with my leaders and I welcome feedback because I recognize that correction should happen because the truth is, I am a sinner.  Moreover, I recognize that feedback, as difficult as it may be to hear at times, will enable me to be a better minister.

Reflect on the fact that Christ became a “curse for us.”  What profound truth about the cross does this reveal?

The cross was an emblem of shame, a device for execution and torture and punishment for the highest of crimes.  The cross was one of the worst curses in the history of humanity, and it is significant that Christ died on this device for our sins.  That Christ died on something as horrible as the cross reveals just how horrible our sins are.  Our sins are detestable to a holy God and there was no way for us to be reconciled to him on our own merit.  But at the same time, God loves us so much.  What was God to do?  He would reconcile us to him through his own merit.  He would send his son to take the sins of the world and absorb the punishment for them.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)  The cross reminds me that the truth is that my sins warrant a horrible death on a cross.  Not a day goes by when I do not sin, when I do not go against the desires of God and break the ‘law.’   Though God gave me everything, even the very breath I breathe to live, I use my life to sin against him.  It should have been me hanging on that cursed ‘tree,’ and it would have been right and just.  But out of his great love and mercy, the holy and sinless Christ stepped down from his rightful place on the throne of heaven to take my place and take the curse of my sins on himself.

The word “redeemed” used in v. 13 is the word used to describe the emancipation of a slave.  Think about the plight of a slave, and the concept of redemption through Christ in your life.

Slavery is an apt description of my life before God.  Though I grew up in the church, I could not get myself to live in full obedience to Christ.  I had so many competing desires, and as I gave into them, they truly enslaved me.  I was addicted to gaming and media.  I was engaged in self-destructive behavior to gain acceptance from people.  I longed for things that would leave me unsatisfied.  I was consumed by my desires.  I was enslaved to my appetites, growing more and more self-centered.  I shudder at the thought of the kind of person I would have become without Christ.  If I were to project my life out at the time, I would have been helplessly more and more given over to my sinful desires and I would have ruined a lot of relationships with people in my life as well as drifted further away from God.  The word “redeemed” in v.13 takes on special meaning as I think about how Christ emancipated me from my sinful desires and the punishment of my sins.  I still struggle with sinful desires on a daily basis, but over time God has given me higher desires to compete against those sinful desires and gave me this community of faith to help me in my struggle against my sins.  The fact that I am at a church plant serving the Lord in college ministry is a testament to the freedom God has given me from the enslavement of my sins.

Personal Prayer

God, I want to thank you for the life you’ve saved me from.  I was once so enslaved to my sins, so self-centered and self-destructive.  I had already hurt a lot of people and I was on my way to hurting many more.  The curse of the cross was my rightful punishment.  I deserved death and eternal separation from you.  I praise you for your love and mercy.  Thank you for sending Christ to die on the cross for my sins and emancipating me from my sins.


Submitted by Jenny C. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

·       Verse 10 says that a person who relies on observing the law is under a curse.  In what ways is this true to my experience?  Describe the last time I felt myself under a curse or condemnation because I tried to earn my merits before God or others.

This is true to my experience when I try to rely on my own effort to be pleasing to God. When I first started doing ministry, I thought it was all about needing to prove that I was a successful minister in order to be a good Christian. I depended heavily on my efforts to reach out to people, to use my people skills to engage people and have them like me. I participated in ministry out of the desire to keep up with people around me, and saw ministry as a way to maintain spiritual status.  I even twisted spiritual disciplines like DT and prayer into a way of earning merits before God and at our church; that is, I would be on the right track if I completed my DT, had good sharing, attended Bible study and service and volunteered my time and energy to do ministry. Because that was my mode of operating, I ended up living under the “curse” of image-maintenance and being performance-driven. I ended up being deceptive, not wanting to be honest and didn’t say what’s really going on in my heart because I feared losing the approval of the people around me (my leaders, my co-laborers, and my peers). I lived in fear and anxiety that I would lose the standing that I had worked so hard to earn, fearful that any moment now, I would end up doing something terrible that would drive people away from me and cause my life to fall apart. I was not free in front of other people; I constantly felt self-conscious and it was tiring to keep up these masks and try so hard to earn approval from others. Even as I approach another year of ministry, I recognize that this is a potential pitfall for me – to earn merits by trying to be capable, trying to produce results in ministry. When things start getting busy, it’s easy for me to go back into that mode of trying to do a lot in to feel worthy and secure. Yet as I reflect upon the kind of curse that I have fallen into before because I tried earning my merits, it is a sobering reminder to check my heart and make sure I am ministering to others out of the joy of my salvation rather than out of an attempt to earn acceptance or good standing.

· Reflect on the fact that Christ became a “curse for us.”  What profound truth about the cross does this reveal?

Christ was the sinless son of God – he was righteous, without blemish and knew no sin. He was pleasing to God as he was. Yet the fact that he became a “curse for us” meant that Jesus identified himself with sinners and voluntarily took on the curse of sinners. This means the sin that separates us from God – the pride, the twistedness, the sexual immorality, the envy, self-consciousness, selfishness, anger, hatred that is in us – was laid upon Christ and he chose to become condemned and separated from God for our sake. Though he did nothing wrong, when Jesus was crucified on the cross, the sin that caused us to break the law and be condemned were put onto him. The cross shows that Jesus took on this punishment, becoming this curse for us, so that we could be set free and redeemed from this curse; the cross reveals the outrageous reality that condemnation falls on Jesus, the innocent, and we, the guilty and justly condemned, go free.

· The word “redeemed” used in v. 13 is the word used to describe the emancipation of a slave.  Think about the plight of a slave, and the concept of redemption through Christ in your life.

A slave is someone who is chained and under the authority of someone else. He has no freedom, no will of his own, no control over his life; he can only do what his master tells him to do, and must even do things against his will because he is forced to as a slave. A slave often has a broken spirit because he is helpless to free himself. This was my plight, because as a sinner, I was a slave to the cruel master of sin. As I sought to live my own life, I became more enslaved to my desires; I felt controlled and damaged by the very things I thought would bring fulfillment and pleasure. I felt despair that I would never be free of the things that bound me. Yet Christ died to save me from this enslavement to sin. Though I could not free myself from captivity to sin, Christ came to redeem me from the destructive way I lived, and I was set free from the curse of sin when I first accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. As I think about the different struggles I’ve had since I’ve become Christian, I see how Christ is redeeming me from that life of living as a slave – setting me free from a life enchained to selfishness, from impurity, from enslavement to people’s approval and to self-reliance. Even as God has exposed painful and dark things in my heart, He is trying to set me free from that enslavement that comes from wanting to earn my righteousness by showing me my powerlessness to change myself. The moments when I felt hopeless of ever being free from certain sins, God shown me that through the cross, Jesus has paid it all, and I can be forgiven and pardoned of the darkest sins. As I look back, I see that these times were God at work redeeming my life through Christ.

Personal Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, You see everyone who relies on observing the law as under a curse. God, I confess that the desire to earn my righteousness through doing a lot of things and being competent is so deeply rooted in me. Yet I have known that broken path of trying to live life in that way and see the curse and condemnation it brings. The truth is that Jesus died on the cross to become the curse for me so that I don’t have to earn merits before You; the scandalous reality is that Jesus was condemned, and through his condemnation I have been redeemed and set free! Thank You God for this amazing truth, that I am no longer a slave to sin, and You are still at work redeeming me from sin. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Submitted by Joel L from Gracepoint Riverside Church

· Verse 10 says that a person who relies on observing the law is under a curse.  In what ways is this true to my experience?  Describe the last time I felt myself under a curse or condemnation because I tried to earn my merits before God or others.

After being exposed to the Bible when I was younger, I thought I was a good guy, because when I observed the law, I looked at the commandments and I figured I didn’t break many of them. I thought I could keep it up as I got older, but I was deceived and deluded. I tried to obey the commandments, but as I got older, I saw myself succumb to addictions that enslaved me and it led to more commandments being broken. I thought if I constantly read the Bible and said prayers here and there that I would somehow be protected from indulging in my sinful nature, but this was not the case. When I reflected on my life at a retreat, I saw how miserably I failed to observe the law and that I was so messed up that I recognized how much I deserved condemnation. This realization was further amplified when I saw the horror of my sins in response to the way God has loved me over the years and I failed to love Him back. I saw that I had become the very person I hated and abhorred, a Pharisee and hypocrite.

· Reflect on the fact that Christ became a “curse for us.”  What profound truth about the cross does this reveal? 

To be cursed is such a dreadful thing, and when I think about the fact that Christ became a “curse for us”, I’m in awe of his love. To take on the curse of someone is hard to comprehend in our society today, but I think most relationships in this world don’t have such a strong connection to emulate this kind of extreme love. The intensity of the love is made apparent, because I have sinned against God throughout my life and still Christ was willing to take on the curse I deserved. Christ didn’t retaliate or put on me more curses and condemnation, so that my life would be more miserable but he has been patient with me to turn to him and believe by faith that he loves me this much and more. Christ, coming down to dwell with us and live among us didn’t stop with identifying with our physical pain and suffering, but he chose to know our spiritual state, because our sins mean we deserve punishment; a punishment that is both physical and spiritual. Christ was willing to take upon himself the curse of the law and it demanded his life. Knowing my sins and what I’ve done, I can’t say that Christ doesn’t love me; he absorbed the consequences of the curse for me and this love is so radical that it is difficult to comprehend but it fills me with gratitude.

The profound truth about the cross is that it is where Christ chose to become a curse, so that at the same time the curse of the Law was removed from me and all humanity if we put our faith in Christ Jesus. The cross is a symbol of suffering and shame, but because of what Christ did, I see God’s inexpressible love and it causes me to marvel again and again.

· The word “redeemed” used in v. 13 is the word used to describe the emancipation of a slave.  Think about the plight of a slave, and the concept of redemption through Christ in your life.

A slave has no freedom and is at the mercy of the master, and a life of misery, hard work, and frustration awaits. A slave has nothing grand to look forward to and the idea of joy comes only when the reality of freedom brings hope and strength. The master cannot be anticipated to be merciful but to exploit and take advantage of a slave as desired. The concept of redemption through Christ in my life is such a blessing, because as I get older and reflect upon my life and know myself, I see more and more how much I was a slave and the consequences of my sinful nature. Thanks be to God because he is redeeming areas of my life that I have been a slave to, and I have come to trust in His voice and how He chooses to work rather than try to fix myself and be free on my own power and will. Before Christ I was a slave and had no choice, but now that I am free in Christ, I no longer have to listen and obey my sinful nature but I can decide to obey Christ and move towards His desires rather than my selfish wants. I can choose to no longer be a slave to media, possessions, careerism,  and insecurities in all its forms, but trust in God and be a slave to righteousness.

Personal Prayer 

Heavenly Father, you are worthy of all praise and glory, because you are love. It is so true when I think about my sinful nature and how you chose to remove the curse I deserved through Jesus Christ taking it on himself for my sake on the cross. I tried to observe your law through works, and I see how I utterly failed in this regard, but I’m thankful for your mercy and grace such that I only need to have faith in your son, Jesus Christ, to be forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit. Even today, I pray Lord that you will work in my life so that my eyes are open to recognize those times where I am living by works rather than on faith in Jesus so that I can come to you in trust and faith and be free rather than be enslaved by fear. Thank you Lord for rescuing me many years ago so that I am no longer a slave to my sinful nature but a slave to righteousness and that you working in me and through me to see more and more my freedom in Christ when I obey you. Use me Lord to do your will with passion and zeal so that others may know of your love and be truly free. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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