God’s Curse

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on June 3, 2006 under Ask the Pastor | Be the First to Comment

A recent visitor to our website asks a very simple but very important question:

“Are we still under God’s curse?”

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Dear friend,

That is a question to which I’d have to give a “yes and no” answer. If we live apart from God’s grace through Christ and are left in our sins, then the answer is “yes” – we are still under God’s dreadful curse. But if we have placed our trust in the forgiveness of sins that Jesus purchased for us on His cross, and now stand in God’s grace through Him, then the answer is an emphatic “no” – we are wonderfully and completely set free from God’s curse in Jesus.

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Perhaps a good place to begin is to understand what this “curse” is all about. We’re first told about it in the story of Genesis. There, after God made the first man, and placed him in the Garden of Eden to tend it, He told Adam about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told Adam, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but 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” (Gen. 2:16-17). That’s our first introduction to this “curse” – God’s warning that death would occure if he disobeyed God’s command.

As we’re told in the next chapter of Genesis, Adam’s wife surrendered to the temptations of the devil and ate of that fruit; and then she gave to her husband, and he also ate. And the next thing we discover is that God called for Adam and Eve, and they hid from Him (3:8-10) Immediately after eating, a separation and a sense of alienation occurred between themselves and the God who made them. As a result, they were driven from the garden, and prohibited from eating of “the tree of life” and thus living forever (Gen. 3:22). The “curse” is “death”. They eventually experienced physical death; but the most profound death they experienced was that immediate separation from God because of sin. That, really, is what that curse is all about – separation from the one who made us; a separation that is spiritual “death”.

And there were other tragic aspects of that curse that sprang forth from that separation. For one thing, Adam’s sin brought a curse upon the whole rest of creation over which he had been placed. God told him, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:17-19).

And another aspect of this curse is that sin brought a curse upon the offspring of Adam. It was shortly after this sin occurred that Adam’s son Cain slew his own brother Abel (Gen. 4:8). Indeed, the curse of Adam’s sin has brought a curse on the whole human race; “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12).

I believe that one of the reasons God gave His Ten Commandments to mankind was to demonstrate the impact of this terrible curse. Moses told the people of Israel, “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I commanded you today, to go after other gods which you have not known” (Deut. 11:26-28). God has set His law before us with the promise of blessing if we obey, and a curse if we disobey; but now, we only find that the law condemns us as being under a curse, because we so constantly disobey it and sin against it.

The apostle Paul said the same thing in Galatians 3:10. He wrote, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, [here quoting Deuteronomy 27:26] ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for [quoting from Habakkuk 2:4] ‘the just shall live by faith.’ Yet the law is not of faith, but [quoting Leviticus 18:5] ‘the man who does them shall live by them.’” We have no hope of being acceptable in God’s sight through the law. It only condemns us and confirms us as under the curse of sin.

So, there’s the “yes” part of the answer to your question. It’s true that, if we were left to ourselves – even if we were to try to please God through obedience to His law, we justly remain under the curse of God for sin – the guilt of sin that we have inherited from Adam, our own inability to obey God’s commandments because of the sinful nature of Adam that we also inherited, and the “death” that results from all of it. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). What a horrible curse this is!

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But God didn’t leave us in this situation without hope. He did something to set us free from this dreadful curse. Paul, in that same Galatians passage I just quoted, goes on to say, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, [here quoting Deuteronomy 21:23], “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” This Old Testament law declares to us that Jesus – who hung on the cross for us – became “cursed” for us and on our behalf. He actually became “a curse for us”; taking upon Himself the punishment for our sins, and experiencing in our place God’s rightful wrath for our disobedience.

I like to call this “the Great Curse Reverse”. God, though Christ, has reversed the effects of Adam’s sin upon humanity through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The judgment of death for sin is put in reverse, for example; because as Paul writes, “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). He goes on to say, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offenses might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (vv. 18-21).

God’s great ‘curse reverse’ through Christ will also reverse the effects of the curse upon creation itself. Paul writes, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:19-21).

In fact, just as the Bible begins with the story of how the creation of heaven and earth was corrupted because of the curse, the Bible then ends in the Book of Revelation with the story of a new heaven and a new earth. In the closing pages of the Bible, it says, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Rev. 22:3)? The story begins with the way to the tree of life being blocked as a sign of the curse (Gen. 3:22); and it ends with the way of the tree of life being opened as a sign that the curse is removed (Rev. 22:2).

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So, there’s the emphatic “no” part of the answer to your question. Just as it’s true that we’re under God’s curse apart from Christ, it’s also wonderfully and gloriously true that we’re NOT under the curse if we are “in” Christ through faith. Jesus took the curse of God for our sins upon Himself on the cross, and became a curse for us; and therefore everyone who places their trust in Him is set free from the curse of Adam’s sin.

I feel I need to conclude by saying this: There isn’t anything more important in our lives than being clear on our own situation before God; and making sure that we are in Christ and thus delivered from the curse of sin. John wrote, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). That puts the matter as plainly as it can be put. I hope, dear friend, that you have clearly placed your trust in the cross of Jesus yourself; because that’s where your question, “Are we still under God’s curse”, receives it’s true answer.

Thank you very much for your good question, and God bless you.

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Greg Allen

(All Scripture quotes are taken from the New King James Version.)

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