A Commentary by John Stott
The apostle sets the alternatives before us in the starkestcontrast. He tells us of two destinies, and of two possible roads by which to reach them. He speaks like a kind of New Testament Moses, for Moses said: ‘I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse’ (Dt. 30:19).
a). The two destinies.
Like Moses, Paul calls the two destinies of man ‘blessing’ and ‘curse’. It is very striking to see them contrasted in verses 13 and 14, where it is written that Christ became a curse for us, that we might inherit a blessing. So far we have concentrated on the curse; what is the blessing? It is termed ‘the blessing of Abraham’ (verse 14), partly because it is the blessing which Abraham himself received when he believed, and partly because God said to him: ‘I will bless you…; and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed’ (Gn. 12:2, 3, RSV mg.). As it is unfolded in these verses, the promised blessing includes justification (being put into favour with God), eternal life (being received into fellowship with God) and ‘the promise of the Spirit’ (being regenerated and indwelt by Him). This is the priceless threefold ‘blessing’ of the Christian believer.
b). The two roads.
By what roads do we attain to the ‘curse’ and the ‘blessing’? The first road is called ‘the law’; those who travel by it are those ‘who rely on works of the law’ (verse 10); they are ‘under a curse’. The second road is called ‘faith’; those who travel by it are ‘men of faith’ (verses 7, 9); they inherit the ‘blessing’. The first group trust in their own works, the second in the finished work of Christ.
The challenge of this passage is straightforward. We must renounce the proud folly of supposing that we can establish our own righteousness or make ourselves acceptable to God. Instead we must come humbly to the cross, where Christ bore our curse, and cast ourselves entirely upon His mercy. And then, by God’s sheer grace, because we are in Christ Jesus by faith, we shall receive justification, eternal life and the indwelling Spirit. The ‘blessing of Abraham’ will be ours.