When the Bible refers to someone as being accursed, it means he will be damned forever with no hope of redemption. It is from anathema, which means “the disfavor of Jehovah,” and was used of “the sentence pronounced” or “the object on which the ‘curse’ is laid” (Vine’s). So great was that first sin—the sin of the first man and woman—that all the earth was cursed; every creature was brought under the sentence of death and condemnation. Our sins are such an affront to the holy standards of God and so diminishing to His incomparable glory that we deserve to be accursed; we deserve to be the objects of His righteous anger; we deserve to be sentenced to eternal damnation.

As one of the strongest words in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul chose to use accursed to sentence all preachers of false gospels to eternal punishment. To feel the sobriety of his condemnation, substitute the phrase “damned forever without hope of redemption” in place of accursed as you read: “But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be [damned forever with no hope of redemption]. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be [damned forever with no hope of redemption] (Galatians 1:8-9). Such would all of us be if it were not for Jesus Christ.

But God!

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God so loved this world of sinners that He cursed His own Son instead of cursing us. “Christ 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’” (Galatians 3:13). Jesus “became a curse for us” by willingly assuming all our guilt and its punishment which was imposed upon us by God’s law.

The law of God, as perfect and holy as it is, was never meant to save us. Instead, it condemns us. The law of God is our teacher, “our tutor to lead us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24); it is the light that exposes the depth of the darkness of our sin and leads us to the only One who has ever met its demands perfectly. “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). We who should have been damned forever with no hope of redemption have instead been “brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

And so we sing,

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

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