What Is The Curse Of The Law?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Bible says that some are still under the curse of the law, so what is the curse of the law, and are we still under the Law?

The Law

The purpose of God’s Law was not so that people would obey all of it and save themselves. In fact, it’s impossible that we can keep the Law of God, so why did God give us His Law, knowing that we would not be able to keep it? For one thing, the Law shows us what sin is. It points out those things in life that we do that the Law says is sin. We are brought to an awareness of sin by what is written in the Law. The Apostle Paul said that “if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet” (Rom 7:7). The Law of God acts like a speed limit sign. If there was no speed limit sign, we wouldn’t know that there was a speed limit and we’d drive as fast as we could and possibly hurt ourselves or others, so the purpose of God’s Law was actually to show us that we can’t keep the Law and that we can’t save ourselves by law keeping, but also it identifies what sin is. The laws of God are like guard rails that keep us from driving into the ditches and injuring ourselves. The Apostle John says that “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4), so when we sin, we break God’s Law and His Law will break us…unless that is, we have come to repent of our law-breaking and put our trust in Christ. The Law is not the problem. The problem is law breakers like us.

The Law is not the problem. The problem is law breakers like us.


Jeremiah the Prophet knew what the curse of the Law was, writing, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jer 17:5). If our hearts turn away from God, they naturally turn to sin, which is law breaking, so we are under a curse if we turn away from God and trust in our own selves or our own strength. The arm of flesh cannot save us any more than the Law of God can. The Bible commands us to honor our father and mother, but if we do not honor them, we are cursed because it says, “Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother” (Deut 27:16). Additional curses are lined up for those who are living in sexual immorality (Deut 27), and for those who live in violence (Deut 28). All of these curses are placed upon the people because they are breaking the Law of God. These same curses are placed upon anyone who does not trust in the Son of God and lives a life rejecting the Law of God, so “those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:22). When someone was hanged from a tree, God’s Law says “his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God” (Deut 21:23). Later on, we will read more about the curse of anyone hanging on a tree, and it’s referenced to Jesus Christ (Acts 5:30; 1 Pet 2:24).

Curse of the Law

Taking up your cross daily

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal 3:13a).

We know that the curse of the Law is given to anyone who has broken or continues to break God’s Law without repentance. That’s why when Jesus was crucified, some translations say “on a tree,” they asked for Jesus’ body to be removed before sundown (John 19:31). The Apostle Paul repeated the Old Testament Law, writing, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Gal 3:10). That shows that all of us are or were under a curse at one time because, before we were saved, we were willfully breaking God’s Law and that places all who break God’s Law under a curse. Thankfully, today we are under the New Covenant, but we still cannot try to save ourselves by keeping the Law. Of course, we should strive to keep the Law, but not in order to secure our salvation, since “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” (Gal 3:10). Naturally, we cannot even come close to keeping the Law, but we should thank God that “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” (Gal 3:13). James warned us that “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” (James 2:10), so we strive to obey God’s Law, but know we cannot save ourselves by the Law. Jesus kept the Law perfectly in our stead since we couldn’t keep it ourselves.


Just because we cannot save ourselves by the Law does not mean we don’t strive to obey the Law or we can ignore the Law. Paul said the Law is holy, just, and good (Rom 7:12). The difference being, we obey the Law out of a love for God, and not out of an attempt to save ourselves. The Law is not the problem…we are, but we can praise and thank God that Jesus kept the Law so that we would not receive the righteous wrath of God that we deserved. God placed the curse or wrath that was due us, upon Jesus Christ at the cross, or on the tree. This is true of all who have repented and trusted in the Son of God. If you have, the curse has been lifted and you are no longer under the curse of the Law but under grace, by which you’ve been saved (Eph 2:8). It wasn’t by works that we were saved (Eph 2:9), for that’s impossible, but we were saved for good works which God has prepared for us before time began (Eph 2:10). That is the greatest blessing possible from God. Praise His holy name that the righteous shall live by faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:13) and not by the Law alone, for the Law can save no one.

Here is some related reading for you: Can a Christian Have a Spell or Curse Put on them?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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