[August 25, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…. (Galatians 3:13 ESV))
The curse of the law, Deuteronomy 27:15-26:
“‘Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the LORD, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s nakedness.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who lies with any kind of animal.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.”….”‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his mother-in-law.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who strikes down his neighbor in secret.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.’….”‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’
(For the more detailed curses of the law that Moses declared / foreshadowed / prophesied to the Israelites, see Deuteronomy 28:15-68.)
Long before Moses and the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God was declaring penalties for lawbreaking:
….of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. (Genesis 2:17 ESV)
Many of the penalties that God declared in the Old Testament were to be carried out by the human justice system delivering penalties to wrongdoers. There is a prototype of this in Genesis 9:6 — Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. The judges and courts were responsible to enforce the code law in Leviticus, Deuteronomy and almost all the penalties listed from Exodus 21 though to 23:19. But there is one penalty in that Exodus list which God Himself would enforce:
You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. (Exodus 22:22-24 ESV)
God promised the Israelites that He would take direct action to punish those who mistreated widows or fatherless children. He did not give a civil penalty for that breach of the law: He himself would bring the punishment on the evildoers.
When a society mistreats fatherless children and widows (women bereft of a husband, thus, many of the readers of this blog), the institutions of that society have become so lax and corrupt that oppressed women and children can find no justice from the institutions which are responsible for protecting them. So God Himself intervenes. Hallelujah!
That, dear readers, was just a prelude. The main point of this post is yet to come.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…. (Galatians 3:13 ESV)
On the cross, Jesus, the incarnate sinless Son of God, became a curse for us and bore all the curse of the Law to redeem us from the curse of the Law. All the penalty for our failure to obey the ten commandments. All the penalty for our inclination to sin which our fallen flesh has even before it commits actual sin. All our sins of commission and our sins of omission. All the gross, crass, vile, bloated, wicked, unspeakable sins of human beings.
Christ became a curse for us. Dare I express it this way? — God the Father cursed God His Son, poured out His wrath for sin on Him, cut Him off. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, willingly bore the curse of the Law, for us. God the Father put the curse of the Law on His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish under the curse of the Law.
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 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
For he has made him who knew no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that we, by means of him, should be that righteousness which is accepted before God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NMB)1
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 that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14 ESV)
In this transaction, the New Covenant was made effectual. And there were clearly more than two parties to that covenant — the Father, the Son, we sinners, and the Promised Spirit who would convict us of sin, reveal Christ to us and lead us into all truth.
Now of course, God is one God — but three Persons. So this covenant, this New Covenant of redemption from sin, was a covenant where there were at least three parties, if I may put it that way. One party being the Father, one party being the Son, the third party being us. (I’ll not try to explain the Spirit here as I don’t think I can and it would complicate the point I’m trying to make.)
So, if you are with me thus far, we are talking about a covenant where there are three parties to the covenant. And that makes it very different from a covenant of marriage, does it not? So those who try to slap the template of Christ’s covenant with the church onto the template of marriage and say that a spouse ought to stick 100% to their vows even if the other spouse has broken their side of the vows ten thousand times over, are really not doing a very good job of interpretation. You can’t make apples into oranges. You can’t make three dimensions into two.
The covenant of redemption in which Christ became a curse for us was a unique covenant: one party enforced and brought down the curse of the Law, one party (though sinless and pure) suffered the curse of the Law, and they both did this for love for a third party — for us — we who did not deserve their love but will enjoy it out into eternity.
1[August 25, 2022: We added the New Matthew Bible version of 2 Corinthians 5:21 because the ESV uses the phrase “made him [Jesus] to be sin” which has been — and still is — often written that Jesus “became sin” or “became death”. For clarification, the following is an excerpt by Barb on the post Abuse Victims Falsely Portrayed as Witches:
Someone on Twitter had said “We follow a Savior who faced Death…who actually became death.”
It sounded ‘off’ to me, so I asked Ruth and Sam Powell whether they thought that was a correct statement. They both agreed is was not correct.
Yes, I think this is off. He died for us, that’s all. I wonder if it is related to the Hebraism ‘Became sin for us.’ Tyndale explained in his 1534 New Testament that this meant ‘became a sin offering.’ Augustine confirmed this. But I hear it mis-taught a lot (understandably), with people saying He actually ‘became sin’. I have decided to update it fully in the NMB to ‘sin offering’ to avoid confusion.
I am not quite sure what is meant be ‘He became death’ but it isn’t quite right. Death is an enemy to be destroyed. The person who wrote that on Twitter might have meant that He truly died, but then she / he should have said that.
[August 25, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to August 25, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 25, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 25, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 25, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
7 thoughts on “Another reason why Christ’s covenant with the church is DIFFERENT from the covenant of marriage between a husband and wife.”
Man. I wish I’d read this several months ago when I was helping a broken, hurting young woman whose pastors were telling her she could not break her marriage covenant, even though her husband had broken it repeatedly and consistently. This is so much common sense. Thank you.
This is GOOD NEWS, Barb! Man….I love the way you think and then present it to us. Thank you! xo
Barb, you bring a powerful message. Preach on, Sister.
The message of Christ’s work on the Cross is so central to our faith, yet it’s amazing how little we really comprehend. The way you put it, Barb, reminds of how freeing the Gospel is. All we tend to hear is how we have done something wrong in leaving our marriages. That just shows how little the church understands of the covenant of Christ and how wrong they are to condemn those whose covenant was violated by an abusive spouse, for standing up and divorcing.
For those who are in good Christian marriages, they only read the few Scriptures that relate directly to marriage and nothing else. They interpret anything less than permanence a breach of Jesus’ teaching. They don’t remember Him saving a woman from being stoned, they don’t remember the Samaritan woman at the well, they don’t remember Him condemning the Pharisees for divorcing their wives without just cause. They don’t see Jesus on the cross or any other way in the case of marriage, separation and divorce. The latter does not exist in their minds. But there is an entire Bible telling us how those who mistreat us are to be treated — as pagans, unbelievers and tax collectors.
In Ephesians 5 it tells us that husband and wife merge as one, but we are not to loose ourselves into the personality of the other, but look to anticipate the needs of the other, helping the other become the best they can be. That union was not meant to tear each other down one controlling or tormenting the other. God intended permanence, but permanence is shattered when one continually and unrepentantly dishonors that covenant.
For me, I will be looking to Jesus’ life and how He conducted Himself and the cross where He gave Himself fully for me. The voices that tell me that I am not sacrificing as I should know nothing of my life or what sacrifices I have made. We who have been in abusive marriage sacrifice whether we stay or go whether it has been a year or 50. We will never be completely restored this side of Heaven. I look forward to that day when I see my Savior in all His glory and see the only thing in Heaven made by man — the scars in the hands of Jesus.
Beautiful words, Brenda! Thank you.
I need to remember this….
I need it written on my heart….
The “not me” voices in my head are growing fainter, but when life becomes overwhelming, when the spiritual warfare becomes intense, the silence can be deafening.
Silence was a significant part of all the abusive relationships in my life. The cold shoulder. The silent treatment. The voiceless criticism.
My response to silence was….silence.
I isolated myself. I read.
Books became my friends.
I hid in the silence.
I hid from the silence.
I became silent.
Now, silence means something different.
I am listening.