Day to day we exchange money for things, and often try to get a bargain. Well, Jesus gave us an unprecedented deal. The day He died on the cross, a divine exchange occurred: He took our sin, and gave us all the good that was His. Listen to this series and understand the impact of how “Christ Was Made a Curse” for you. It will change your life!
It’s good to be with you again at the beginning of a new week, sharing with you Keys to Successful Living which God has placed in my hand through many years of personal experience and Christian ministry. The title for my talks this week is “From Curse to Blessing.” I will be sharing with you truths from Scripture which you have probably never heard before and which have the power to change the whole destiny of your life.
But first, let me say “Thank you” to those of you who have been writing to me. Before I finish this talk, we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. It means a great deal to me to hear how this radio ministry of mine has been helping you and blessing you. So please take time to write, even if it is only a brief personal note.
Now, back to our theme, “From Curse to Blessing.”
If you have any need or problem whatsoever in your life, there is one place, and only one place, to which you must go to find God’s provision or God’s solution and that one place is the cross of Jesus. Through what Jesus accomplished by His death on the cross, every provision of God for you—spiritual, physical, material; for time, or for eternity—has been made available. But there is no other basis than the cross for all the provisions of God. It is through the cross, and through the cross only, that you can come to God and receive His provisions and His blessings.
In order to do that, you need to understand the basic nature of what took place when Jesus died on the cross. At that point, a divinely-ordained exchange took place—ordained by God and predicted many centuries before in the prophets of Israel. It’s all summed up in one key verse, in the prophet Isaiah, chapter 53, verse 6:
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him [‘Him’ is Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” (NKJ)
That’s the absolute center of everything that God has to offer for us. It’s entirely the grace of God, we have no claim upon God, we could not have demanded this from God, but in His infinite grace and mercy, God ordained this exchange. Let me state it very briefly: God laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all. The word “iniquity” could also be translated “rebellion.” Our rebellion, the rebellion of the entire sin-cursed Adamic race, came upon Jesus on the cross by divine appointment. Now, that’s the negative side of the exchange. The positive side is that in return all the good that was due to the sinless obedience of Jesus might be made available to us.
Let me put it more simply still: God visited upon Jesus the evil due to us that in return He might make available to us the good due to Jesus.
Let me say it more briefly still: The evil came upon Jesus that the good might be made available to us.
Now there’s no claim that we can make upon this. It initiates solely from God’s grace and mercy. But, thank God, His grace and mercy have ordained this exchange and made this provision.
Now I said that the word “iniquity” could perhaps be translated “rebellion.” I find in studying the Old Testament that this word means two things which are closely related: first of all, rebellion, and then all the evil consequences and judgments that come upon rebellion and this is how we need to understand it in this context. God visited upon Jesus our rebellion and then He endured all the evil consequences of our rebellion which by justice should have come upon us. And from whatever aspect you view the cross, you see this truth of a divinely-ordained exchange. The evil coming upon Jesus; that the good might be offered to us.
Let me just give you a few of the aspects of this exchange in very simple terms.
Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven. He endured the judgment due to our rebellion, the punishment—“the wages of sin is death”—Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven. Then in the physical realm:
Jesus was wounded, physically wounded, that we might be physically healed. The Scripture continuously emphasizes this fact: “By His wounds we are healed.” “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” First Peter 2:24 says of Jesus: “By whose wounds you were healed.” That’s the exchange. Jesus suffered physical wounding that we might be physically healed. How many, many Christians need to know that. That their healing has been provided by the sufferings of Jesus in His body on the cross. And then again, the Scripture says:
Jesus was made sin that we might be made righteousness. Second Corinthians 5:21 says,
“[God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Notice, it’s not our own righteousness, it’s the righteousness of God.
And then it says in Hebrews 2:9 that Jesus, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. Jesus tasted our death —What’s the exchange? That we might share His eternal life. On the cross also:
Jesus endured our poverty. He was stripped, He was totally impoverished, He was left with nothing. He took our poverty that we might share His abundance. And then on the cross:
Jesus was rejected by God the Father. He cried out and there came no answer from heaven. And He died of a broken heart, a heart broken by rejection. But, By His rejection, we have acceptance with God the Father. So that truth comes out time and time again, the evil came upon Jesus that the good might be made available to us.
Now, in my talk today, I’ll be focusing on another aspect—one to which the Holy Spirit sovereignly directed me some years ago. I’ve never found it referred to in any book that I’ve read or any sermon that I’ve heard and yet if we can understand and apply the truth contained in it, it has the potential to revolutionize the whole course of our lives. I, myself, have witnessed the impact that this truth produces both upon individuals and communities. This aspect of the exchange that I’m speaking about now and will be speaking about for the rest of this week is described by Paul in Galatians 3:13–14, where Paul says:
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus...” (NKJ)
Now the exchange is obvious, just as in the other cases. The evil is the curse; the good is the blessing. Christ was made a curse on the cross, that we might quality for and receive the blessing.
In order to receive this provision which God has made for us, it is necessary to understand the nature of both blessings and curses. And if you don’t understand that, you will not be able to avail yourself of this provision. Both blessings and curses are major themes of Scripture. The words “bless” or “blessing” occur in the Bible about 430 times. The word “curse” in various forms occurs about 160 times. In other words, the Bible has a great deal to say about both. Both are absolutely real—we must understand this—so real, that Jesus had to be made a curse that we might be redeemed by the curse and receive the blessing. Some people are inclined to think that blessings are real but not curses. That’s illogical. Any pair of opposites that we care to think of, if one is real, the other must be real. Like day and night. If “day” is real, “night” is real. Heat and cold. If “heat” is real, “cold” is real. Good and evil. If “good” is real, “evil” is real. Strong and weak. If “strength” is real, “weakness” is real. We cannot focus simply one and ignore the other. And so it is with blessings and curses. Blessings are real and curses are real.
Now, in the talks that follow for this week and next week, I’ll be opening up this whole subject: the nature of both blessings and curses, how they operate, how to recognize if there is a curse at work in your life from which you need to be delivered. The Bible had much to teach us about all these areas. If we remain ignorant, it will be to our own cost. We will miss much of the total provision that God has made for us through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross.
I travel widely, I minister to congregations of many different backgrounds, denominations, nationalities, and I find everywhere that most of God’s people do not know how to discern blessings and curses. I often ask people as I preach: “Tell me, are you enjoying the blessings or are you enduring the curses?” A whole lot of Christians who should be enjoying blessings are actually enduring curses—for two reasons: first of all, they don’t know how to recognize what is a blessing and what is a curse; secondly, if they are under a curse, they do not understand the basis upon which they can be released.
Now I’m going to deal with these themes very thoroughly and systematically in the talks that follow.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this same time. Tomorrow I’ll be explaining the nature of both blessings and curses and how they operate.