This is one of those key verses of scripture we often turn over and over in our hearts and minds, declare in preaching, mention to one another in fellowship, and bring before the throne of grace in our prayers. It is the truth of the Gospel in a sentence. Thank God that He frequently speaks so clearly of the work of His Son in our salvation (Rom. 3:24-25; 5:10; 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Heb. 1:3; 9:12, 14, 26; 10:7-14; Col. 1:21-22; Eph. 2:1-10; John 3:14-15; 10:11, 15). Here are some clear lessons taught from Galatians 3:13.
- Substitution. One bore the sins and endured the penalty of God for many who sinned: for “us.” Christ is the One. God’s elect are the “us,” who believe Christ crucified as all of our salvation (Acts 13:48). Their sins were laid on Him. He confessed them as His own (Lev. 16:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:21). He bore them in His own body up to and upon the tree, the place of cursing (1 Pet. 2:24). Now we receive the blessing of His sacrificial love (Gal. 3:8). He was cursed with the curse we deserved that we might be released from that curse and blessed with the blessing that He deserves.
- Satisfaction. Christ, by His death, satisfied God in the justice called for by His law. Full satisfaction was made to God for His elect because Christ made full payment when He willingly gave Himself in total sacrifice, in His own blood. The curse of God’s law is therefore removed from them. “Justice will not twice demand, payment first at my bleeding Surety’s hand, and then again at mine” (from John Newton).
- Grace. Mercy and Truth met together in Christ on the cross. Righteousness and Peace kissed each other (Psalm 85:1-10; Isa. 12:1-3; 53:3-12). God delivered up His Son to the full judgment of His curse against sinners. Zechariah 13:7 draws the dramatic picture for us. The curse of God’s law is compared to His sword. God the Father, in unspeakable grace and inflexible justice, drew the sword of His judgment and plunged it into the bosom of His own Son in full satisfaction to Himself, both in justice and in His grace towards the most ill-deserving of sinners (Eph. 5:2). Nowhere is the glory of God’s grace seen more brightly than here (Heb. 1:3; John 12:23-33; 17:1-4). Christ bore our sins in His own body under the curse that was pronounced upon us. My sins, our sins, our guilt, our shame before God, and God’s curse, all came upon the "Fellow" of Jehovah God the Father: upon God the Son. The Son of God in our nature bore our sins and curse under the hand of God’s chastisement. He bore the beatings my sins deserved (Isaiah 53:5). There, then, God smelled a sweet-smelling savor (Eph. 5:2). My sins with all of the sins of God’s elect, were removed from me. Full payment has been made and received. God Himself has given the glad news in the Gospel Report (Isa. 53). He shall never remember our sins anymore (Heb. 10:17-18; Jer. 50:20; Num. 23:21)!
- Success. Christ obtained eternal redemption by the payment of His own blood (Heb. 9:12): One offering, satisfaction to justice received, eternal redemption obtained. There is no possibility here. It is irrevocably done. All of the redeemed shall be with Christ in glory (John 6:37-40; 17:1-5, 23-24; Isa. 53:11; Luke 15:3-7). It happened once in history, on a hill outside the walls of Jerusalem. The Son of God made a complete atonement to God for our sins. God is completely satisfied. We are utterly clean (Lev. 16:30; Heb. 1:3). And we are free. We are no longer servants. God's predestinating purpose of grace by Jesus Christ has been fulfilled in us who believe (Eph. 1:4-7). We are sons. God Himself has given His Spirit to us to bear witness from His word in our hearts that it is so (Gal. 4:1-6; John 1:12-13).
- Witness. From His exalted throne, Christ sends His Spirit from the Father to chosen, redeemed sinners (Acts 2:33-36, 39). He takes away the stony heart and gives us a heart of flesh (Rom. 6:17). The curse is broken. We are born of God. We live because Christ lives in us by His Spirit. He has given us faith in Himself (Acts 3:16; 20:21; Heb. 12:2). We now see and are persuaded and trust Christ by God’s testimony concerning His Son. By this God-given faith, we receive the witness of His Spirit in our hearts. We have God’s own warrant to call God our Father, because by His adopting choice of us in Christ, by Christ’s redeeming work, and by the Spirit of Christ in us, we know we are the sons of God, heirs of God Himself with Christ (John 1:12-13; Gal. 4:4-6; John 20:17).