If you are an older teen or young adult, you may have come to understand that you need a guide—someone or something helping you to avoid the pitfalls that life will throw your way. The Bible can be that guide, and the Ten Commandments—and other commands God gives in His word—have provided thousands the sort of guidance you are seeking.
However, there are many who would warn you away from these time-honored laws. Some who consider themselves Christian try to say that God’s commandments don’t need to be kept anymore, because Jesus Christ kept them for us. “Those old commandments were nailed to the cross!” they say. In fact, they often use the Bible itself to claim that the Ten Commandments and other elements of God’s law are actually a curse.
Don’t be deceived! These are some of the greatest lies ever devised, and the claim that God’s laws are a “curse” has been perpetrated by none other than Satan himself, the father of lies (John 8:44). Don’t believe it, not even for a second. The Devil does not want you to benefit from the blessings that come from living according to the commands and laws of the Bible.
Is there, in fact, a “curse of the law“? If so, how did Christ redeem us from it? Let’s look at the evidence together.
The key passage of the Bible around which this entire question revolves is Galatians 3:13, which begins, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us….” The Apostle Paul wrote this, but just what did he mean when he wrote it?
First, notice that this verse does not say that we do not need to keep the spiritual laws of God. Paul also wrote the Book of Romans, which states that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12). Paul was also inspired to write that “not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified” (Romans 2:13). Paul did not contradict himself, but many people twist what he wrote and what he said (1 Peter 3:14–16).
Secondly, this verse does not say that we will be put under a curse if we seek to obey God’s commands. In fact, the Scripture shows just the opposite to be true—that keeping God’s laws can bring blessings (see Leviticus 26:1–13; and Deuteronomy 28:1–14)! Keeping God’s spiritual laws will result in a happy, interesting, and fulfilling life. Breaking God’s laws brings curses, not keeping them!
So what is the “curse of the law” that Paul refers to in Galatians 3? Put simply, it is the death penalty for disobedience.
Romans 6:23 clearly tells us, “the wages of sin is death.” James wrote that each of us “is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14–15). Sin is lawlessness, disobedience to God’s spiritual law (1 John 3:4). Over and over, the Bible tells us to repent of sinning—which means turning away from breaking God’s commandments and beginning to keep them. This is one of the first steps to receiving God’s forgiveness and salvation (Acts 2:38). If we hope to have a close relationship with God, we must obey Him. Breaking His commandments—sinning—comes between us and God and prevents us from having a relationship with Him (Isaiah 59:2). Changing and turning away from our sins, seeking to begin keeping the laws we’ve been breaking, is an important step in seeking His presence and guidance in our lives.
God’s commandments define right and wrong for us. The reason humankind is plagued with war, violence, envy, hatred, and injustice is simply that we have taken it upon ourselves to determine what is right and wrong. In fact, people “call evil good, and good evil” and they “put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20). You don’t have to repeat their mistake!
A wise king once said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6). This same wise king, Solomon of Israel, summarized life very simply: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
The clear meaning of Galatians 3:13 is that Christ allowed the curse of disobedient humanity to fall upon Him instead of us (Isaiah 53:6). We see this reflected in the latter half of the verse: “for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’….” Paul is referring to God’s statement in the Old Testament that anyone who was executed in Israel and hanged on a tree “is accursed of God” (Deuteronomy 21:22–23). By allowing sinful humanity to crucify Him, the sinless Jesus Christ took upon Himself the “curse of the law”: the death penalty we earn for disobeying God and breaking His commandments. He paid that penalty for us, in our stead! The Apostle Peter, speaking of Christ, wrote, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
Our adversary, the Devil, does not want you or your family to receive the precious and abundant blessings that come from obeying God’s commandments! Ancient King David loved God’s law (Psalm 119:97) and said, “More to be desired are they [God’s judgments] than gold… and in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:10–11). Obeying God results not only in physical blessings, but also in spiritual blessings. As Psalm 111:10 points out, “a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.” If we desire to understand more, we must be commandment keepers. Also, “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165). The person who keeps the Ten Commandments has a clear conscience and is at peace. Don’t we all want a clear conscience and peace of mind?
God has set before us a choice between “life and death, blessing and cursing” and tells us to “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Ultimately, God will give eternal life to those who demonstrate a dedication to keeping His commandments and who accept Christ’s sacrifice as the payment for their sins. While eternal life is clearly a gift from God and not something you can earn (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8–9), neither will anyone be granted eternal life as a rebellious sinner (1 John 3:4–9). God will not give immortality to anyone who insists on living Satan’s way!
If we read Scripture honestly, we find that Jesus Christ did not come to do away with God’s law (Matthew 5:17–19). Rather, He kept God’s commandments (John 15:10) and He commanded others to keep them (Matthew 19:16–19; 28:19–20). That includes you, at the beginning of your journey to find your way through this life!
Jesus showed that the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17) teach us how to live and how to truly express love. The law that James called “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25)—is truly a law of love and epitomizes the essence of God’s very nature and character. “God is love” (1 John 4:16), and a fundamental part of becoming more like God is our willingness and effort to keep His perfect law.
As a young person just starting off in life, you have an opportunity to start it off right. The spiritual law of God, summed up by the Ten Commandments, is permanent and steadfast. Don’t be deceived into thinking God’s law is a curse, or that you are cursed if you keep it. Be thankful that your Creator has given you laws to live by—laws that, if followed, produce the richest of blessings!