Question 22b- What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
“For 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 ESV
For as many as are of the works of the law, The apostle does not say, “as many as were of the law”, to whom it belonged, who were born and brought up in it, and to whom it was given, the Jews; for there were some of them who believed in Christ, were blessed with Abraham, and not under the curse of the law; nor does he say, “as many as do the works of the law”: for the works of the law are to be done, though not in order to obtain righteousness and life by them; yet it is not the doing of them, but the not doing of them, that entails the curse on men: his meaning is, that as many as seek for justification by the works of the law, and trust in their own righteousness for acceptance with God, these are so far from being blessed or justified hereby, that they
are under the curse, that is, of the law; they are under its sentence of condemnation and death, they are deserving of, and liable to the second death, eternal death, the wrath of God, here meant by the curse; to which they are exposed, and which will light upon them, for aught their righteousness can do for them; for trusting in their works, they are trusting in the flesh, and so bring down upon themselves the curse threatened to the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm; not only that trusts in a man of flesh and blood, but in the works of man; his own, or any other mere creature’s: besides, by so doing, he rejects Christ and his righteousness, whereby only is deliverance from the curse of the law; nor is it possible by his present obedience to the law, be it ever so good, that he can remove the guilt of former transgressions, and free himself from obligation to punishment for them: nor is it practicable for fallen man to fulfil the law of works, and if he fails but in one point, he is guilty of all, and is so pronounced by the law; and he stands before God convicted, his mouth stopped, and he condemned and cursed by that law he seeks for righteousness by the deeds of:
for it is written, Deut 27:26
cursed is everyone that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. The law requires doing; it is not content with mere theory without practice; it is not enough to know it, or hear it, it must be done. The Jews boasted of their knowledge, and trusted much to the hearing of it read every sabbath day; but not those who had a form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law, or were hearers of it, were just before God, but the doers of it are justified; and it requires perfect obedience, an observance of all things contained in it, which can never be performed by fallen man. The Jews pretend, that Abraham their Father כולה התורה כל קיים, “fulfilled all the whole law”; and the same they say of the Israelites in common, than which nothing is more untrue; for in many things all men offend:
moreover, the law requires constant perfect obedience; not only that a man should do all things commanded in it, but that he should continue to do them from his infancy, to the day of his death; and in failure hereof, it pronounces every man cursed, without any respect to persons, or any regard to pleas, taken from the infirmity of human nature, the sincerity of the heart, or repentance for transgressions. It should be observed, that the word “all” is not in the Hebrew text, in Deut 27:26, but is manifestly implied, an indefinite proposition being equal to an universal one; and agreeably to the true sense of the words, it is inserted by the apostle here, as it is in the Septuagint and Samaritan versions there; and perfectly accords with the sense of the best interpreters among the Jews; one of them has this gloss upon the words, כולה התורה כל את כלל כאן, “here he (Moses) comprehends all the whole law”; and another says the same thing, almost in the same words; this “(says he) includes all the commandments which are in the law: and the note of a third is, there are some that say, this is to be understood התורה כל על “of the whole law”; and there are others that say, it is to be understood of those things that are mentioned (above), but they say nothing, for it is written “to do them”; and it is right in my eyes, that he curses for the negative commands mentioned, and he curses him who does not keep even secretly the affirmative precepts, wherefore he says “to do them”:” to which may be added, the observation of another of them that these words intimate, that a man ought to honour the law, ובמעשה ובדיבור במהשבה, “in thought, and word, and in deed”: nor should this be thought to be too severe, that the law of God curses men for nonperformance of the whole.
The Athenians formerly condemned persons as guilty, though they had not broke the whole law, yet if they had transgressed but one syllable of it: upon the whole it is a clear point, that there can be no justification by the works of the law, since it curses in case of want of perfect and constant obedience to it. [Gill]
“Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?” – Lam 3:39 ESV
Wherefore doth a living man complain? Or murmur, or fret and vex, or bemoan himself; all which the word may signify; as the prophet had done in his own person; or as representing the church, Lam 3:1; and here checks himself for it; and especially since the mercies and compassions of God never fail, and are daily renewed; and the Lord himself is the portion of his people, Lam 3:23; and seeing he is good to them that seek him, and it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of God, and to bear the yoke patiently, Lam 3:25; and because of the unwillingness of God to afflict men, and his sympathy and compassion towards them under affliction, Lam 3:32; and especially since all is from the sovereignty of God, who does according to his will; and from whom all good and evil come, Lam 3:37; he is not to be complained of, or against, for anything he does; or to be murmured at; nor should men vex and fret themselves at their own adversity, or at the prosperity of others; or bemoan themselves, as if no case was like theirs, or so bad. It does not become “a man”, a reasonable creature, a man grown up, to behave in this manner; as such should quit themselves like men, and conduct as such; a “man” that God is so mindful of, and cares for, and visits every moment, and follows with his goodness continually; a “man”, sinful man, that has rendered himself unworthy of the least favour; and yet such is the lovingkindness, favour, and good will of God to man, that he has provided his own Son to be his Saviour; and therefore man, of all God’s creatures, has no reason to complain of him; and is a “living” man too, in a natural sense; is upheld in life by the Lord, and has the common mercies of life; is in health, or however in the land of the living; out of hell, where he deserves to be; and therefore should praise, and not complain, Isa 38:19; especially if he is a living man in a spiritual sense; has a principle of spiritual life implanted in him; Christ lives in him, and his life is hid with him in God, and has a right and title to eternal life:
a man for the punishment of his sins? the word “punishment” is not in the text; but, admitting the supplement, if a man is a wicked man (and so the Targum interprets it), and is punished for his sins, no injustice is done him; he has no reason to complain; and especially of his punishment in this world, which is greatly less than his sins deserve, Ezra 9:13; and if he is a good man, and is chastised for his sins, he ought not to complain “for the chastisement” of them; since it is the chastisement of a father, is in love, and for his good: but the words may be rendered literally, “a man for”, or “of his sins” (l); and be considered as a distinct clause, and as an answer to the former, so Jarchi; if a man will complain, let him complain of his sins; of the corruptions of his heart; of the body of sin and death he carries about with him of his daily iniquities; let him mourn over them, and bemoan himself for them; and if he does this in an evangelic manner, he is happy; for he shall be comforted. [Gill]
Answer – All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
Photo Credit: Malik Earnest on Unsplash