Redeemed From The Curse

by Phil Enlow

Transcript of a TV message broadcast in April 2012

I don’t know that I have a lot this morning, but I just wanted to pick up with the thought that the Lord began there, because there are two ways that men approach God. And, doctrinally I think we often…many of us get it. We know we’re not saved by works. We know God doesn’t receive us because of what we do, but somehow that doesn’t quite get home to us because of the way we as human beings are wired.

And we are so prone, whether we are in the process of coming to God or whether we’re living for God, we are so prone to measuring our state before God and our acceptance by Him by what we do or conversely by what we fail to do. And I believe God wants to deliver us and bring us into a place of freedom where we understand the principle that is set forth here, because that’s pretty plain, isn’t it?

“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse.” (NIV). What does he mean, “rely” on that? It simply means that’s what you’re depending on. I’m gonna come to You, God, and I want to be accepted by You. This is what I’m basing my hope upon. You have given me laws, and it’s up to me to keep them.

But the thing is, if you don’t keep it perfectly, you’re helpless, you’re hopeless. And God has pronounced a curse…so the quickest way to get under a curse is to try to do it yourself. You will remain that way. And as long as that’s your approach to God, you will never find it.

Sue shared something with me the other day. She listens a lot and just kind of keeps AFA running, and a lot of it’s just political stuff and political commentary…that’s American Family Radio, some of you are familiar with it. But from time to time they will have something that is very spiritual in nature and very edifying. And they’ll have some program and one of the hosts will interview somebody, and she called my attention to something she heard, I think it was last Sunday, and I finally remembered to look it up in the archives and listen to it.

And it was a testimony of a preacher, of a man, in fact I think he was one of the officials of the radio network, if I’m not mistaken. But anyway, his testimony was that for years he was an evangelist and part of the time he actually was pastoring a church as well, but primarily he was an evangelist. He was a Baptist evangelist, as it happened, and he was one of these guys that would go around and hold these traditional meetings — they call them revivals. And he would preach on John 3:16, and he would preach on “you must be born again” and all the basic stuff. He laid it out there, and how you could know you’re saved, and all of this.

But he said all the while he was doing that, he had this nagging sensation that something was wrong, something was missing in his own heart. And I’ve got all ideas that that’s not an uncommon condition. In fact, it’s his testimony that he believes that that’s the condition of many people in churches in the world, and particularly in America today. There’s been such a cheap version of grace preached that people have never really come back to the heart of what the Gospel is about and never gotten free from what Paul was talking about here.

And he testifies how he would just feel this disturbed sense on the inside…God, something’s missing, something’s wrong. I’m telling everybody else that they can have an assurance, but I don’t. What’s going on? And he’d cry out and he’d say, oh God, if I’m lost, please save me. And another trick we have when those kinds of feelings come is we try harder, don’t we? I’ll get up earlier. I’ll pray harder. I’ll read my Bible more. We sort of make ourselves little things that we will do to sort of acquire that sense that we are accepted by God. How has that worked out for you? But we do it anyway, don’t we?

( congregational response ).

And that’s the biggest thing perhaps that God is seeking to save us from. God doesn’t have any trouble saving us from sins, but what He has the biggest trouble with is saving us from our self-righteousness—saving us from trying to do it ourselves. And this man’s testimony was a very simple one. He was actually attending a revival service where somebody else was preaching and the man, the evangelist stood up and he said, “I had something I was going to preach, but I’ve been wrestling with God all afternoon, and I just feel like there’s somebody here and I need to give out something different.”

Boy it’s a good thing when we can be able to be used, led of the Lord like that. And this man was. And so he opened up the scriptures to a scripture that’s very familiar to us and I’ll just refer to it in 2nd Corinthians 13:5. Who knows what that is…by the reference? “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.” And he said, as soon as the preacher read that, his mind just zoned in on that. And the Lord began talking to him and he said he doesn’t even hardly remember what else the man said. But the Lord just focused him on that.

And as I recall, the Lord said, you’ve been praying, if I’m lost, Lord, save me. The Lord said, you are lost. But what got my attention in this particular testimony was what it was that was the hindrance. I mean, think about it. Is God unwilling to save us? Here was a man who was crying out, oh God, save me. So where was the problem?

This man is not the only one who experiences this problem. The problem was this and this is what the Lord focused this man’s attention on was this. He said, “I am satisfied with what My Son did to pay for your sins. That completely satisfies me. He took your sins and He bore them on the cross. I’m satisfied with that. He says, when you get satisfied with that, I’ll save you.”

Now think about that. Wrap your mind around that. Is that not an issue that bedevils a lot of people who try to come to God? I think it was…I’m just recalling some of this, ‘cause this wasn’t really…this is obviously not a planned thing, at least not by me. But Luke 13, I believe it is, some of those who were following Jesus asked Him, and said, Lord are there few that be saved? Do you remember what Jesus said? He said, enter into the narrow gate. Why? For many will try or seek to enter in and…

( congregational response ).

Will not be, what?

( congregational response ).

They will not be able to enter in. Now does that mean God is standing there saying, I’m gonna make you hungry to come in, but I ain’t gonna let you in? No. It’s people who try to come in some other way than the only way that God will accept.

It’s extraordinarily simple, but it is a huge barrier to sinful man. We are bound and determined that we are not as bad as all that…to believe that we’re not as bad as all that, that we’re…yes sinners are out there, but we’re not that bad. There’s something good about us. There’s something we can do to somehow make ourselves commendable…that yeah, Jesus paid for my sins, but…and we’re gonna add something. And we’re gonna try. We’re gonna try to quell that sense of uncertainty and unrest that’s there, where we just…

( grunting ).

We read where God witnesses by His Spirit that we’re His, and we’re trying to achieve that. Oh maybe if I pray more. Maybe if I go to church more. Maybe if I…you try harder to…oh God, I did that again. I’ll make up for it by doing this. I’ll guarantee everybody here that has sought to serve the Lord has fallen into these things numerous times. Maybe that’s where you’re living right now, ‘cause this has a lot to do , not just with people coming to God, it has a lot to do with us living for God.

( congregational amens ).

How many of us when we do something bad, we realize, we get convicted…oh man, I messed up, we’re gonna make up for that? Oh God, I can’t just rest my hope on that. Surely that’s not enough. I’ve got to do penance. You know, I’ve got to wait a while before I really believe I am forgiven. And I’ve got to do something to sort of balance the scales a little bit. I’ve got this thing that’s pulled me down. Now I’ve got to put something over here on the good side and maybe that will kind of get rid of that feeling. On the basis of this, will God ever accept that kind of approach to Him?

( congregational response ).

Never, never, ever! What a simple way to understand it that the Lord brought to that man’s heart. He said, the moment you accept, the moment that what Jesus did satisfies you, then things will be right, and they were. And he was saved that night. And God just flooded his heart with a sense…and it’s not that we seek an experience. All the struggles of all those years of a man who told everybody else about the Gospel and just couldn’t get a hold of the simplicity of it himself.

My God, help us. God, touch hearts here that are struggling, that are in the same place. God is not willing, I mean He’s not unwilling to save you, but He is not going to save you if you are gonna come and cling to pride and say, I’m not willing to accept that that’s my place. You say, my only hope is mercy. I beg to differ with You, God. There’s something commendable about me, and I demand that You accept that.

That’s what you’re saying. Isn’t that amazing that when you start to break it down, how in the world do people think that God is gonna accept them? Oh my God, sin has ruined us. There is no basis…I don’t care if you’re the worst mass murder that there ever was, or if you’re somebody that has taught Sunday School all your life and sat in churches and been real righteous, in your own eyes. We are all the same.

( congregational amens ).

And until we understand and are willing to truly, in our hearts embrace that reality…and the truth is, only God can show us that—only God can really bring that reality, that consciousness to our hearts. Until we come that way, we will never, ever come. That’s trying to climb us some other way. See I want to get in there, and I know that Jesus made a way for all those bad people, but I’m really not one of them. There’s some good things about me, and I’m gonna keep on trying to be a Christian.

Oh God, you will never ever be accepted by God, until there is a repentance in your heart, until you’re conscious of just how far you are from what God intended, how ruined by sin, and you’re willing to turn from that with all your heart, and you’re gonna be 100 percent relying on what Jesus did. If that satisfied the heart of God, if He accepts that as the basis for every sinner coming to Him, should we not come to that place where we rely upon that, period? Praise God! As I say, I don’t have a whole lot this morning. That’s about what I have. But I’ll tell you, that’s life changing, folks.

( congregational amens ).

That’s life changing for us as believers. I confess how many times that I have failed and I’ve just…

( groaning ).

I’m gonna…I gear up self-effort. But we are not saved by self-effort at any point. We are saved by going right back to the same well. Oh God, I am guilty. I am a helpless sinner. As long as I rely on what I am capable of doing, it’s gonna be nothing but failure, 100 percent. I will never be anything…it doesn’t matter what I do on the outside. It doesn’t matter how commendable it looks to other people. It’s where it’s coming from. You do something that looks good, but if it comes out of a dirty fountain, what good is it? All our righteousness is…

( congregational response ).

…Are as filthy rags, aren’t they? How many of them?

( congregational response ).

All of them. That means all of yours, and yours, and yours, and mine. The best I can offer Him is disgusting. You remember the story Brother Thomas told so many times about the Indian that was being…Native American, I guess now, that was being…the Gospel was being shared with him and he was under conviction. I don’t know for sure where this story came from, obviously a long time ago…and how he…the man of God was camped some place in the woods. It sounds like David Brainerd, I don’t know for sure, but that would certainly fit.

And the man under conviction came and he offered several things. I mean, in successive nights he offered him his blanket, he offered the Lord his horse and that wasn’t good enough. And he came back and offered Him his bow and arrow, or rifle, or whatever it was that he had. It was very valuable, I mean really valuable things. And no, that’s not enough. That’s not it…it’s not what the Lord wants, until finally the Native American came back and said, Indian give himself.

That’s what the Lord wants. We come to Him as broken, helpless, hopeless, guilty sinners, who need to reconcile ourselves to the fact and surrender ourselves to the fact that that’s the only ground upon which we can come, nothing good we can offer Him, nothing He’ll accept, but He does accept that! What a glorious promise that is! What a glorious hope! Because that puts everyone…I don’t care if you think you’re the lowest of the low, that puts us all upon the same ground!

And this is perhaps why the broken sinner who knows they’re a sinner, sometimes — often, I should say — has an easier time coming to God than the folks that grow up in the church pew. They don’t know they’re sinners. They don’t really get it. How many testimonies have we had in our own midst of people grown up and then all of a sudden God convicts them and they just really get it. Oh God, I am lost! Oh God, if my life ended, or if Jesus came at this moment, I would be lost. Oh God, have mercy upon me. And suddenly mercy becomes the ground upon which we come instead of, okay, I’m being a good Christian, Lord.

But when you think about where we’re at as people…we’ve got the guilt of sin hanging over us, but how many of us are capable of making ourselves over into someone who is fit to live in the place that God has prepared? Have you got an answer to that? No! Absolutely hopeless. And of course, that has a lot to do with what Paul is getting at in the whole book of Galatians. He’s got believers here who were Gentiles, who didn’t know anything about the Old Testament law, they just were heathen people who were converted.

And they were converted by the Gospel that God had revealed to Paul. It wasn’t something he came up with in school, this was divine revelation that he’s giving us that Christ became the curse. That’s it! You are under a curse, if you’re gonna try to do it yourself, but that curse fell upon Jesus. I’m satisfied with what He did. I have given you a foundation for coming. And so they had come to God on that basis and into that situation came these teachers, these Jews who had not gotten rid of the idea that the Law of Moses still applies. Oh man, it doesn’t.

( congregational amens ).

That Law was kept completely by our Savior. That doesn’t mean we’re free to do as we please, now. It’s just that there’s a different basis for serving God. Don’t think that God’s attitude toward sin has changed a bit. But I’ll tell you, we don’t do it by obeying rules. The purpose of the Law was to show us in no uncertain terms, just how short we come. And it was meant to drive us to Christ.

And so, if I’m gonna be made into what God wants me to be, He’s the only One that’s gonna do it. So my job is not to try harder in myself to find out, well, He wants me to do this, He wants me to do that…okay, now I’m gonna gear myself up and I’m gonna do that. No. My job is to yield myself to Him. It’s one of surrender. And yes, there’s an effort, but it’s an effort where I understand moment by moment I am dependent upon His grace coming down upon me and enabling me.

You think about what grace is. You know, I’ve emphasized a lot lately and it’s just become more real to me than ever that grace is divine enablement. It’s mercy that causes Him to show us favor that we don’t deserve. But the favor actually is in the form of grace, which is divine help. You know, we’ve got a pretty good illustration of that in Samson. I mean, what would Samson have been…and well, we saw it late in his life. What was he without God’s power? Nothing. He was overcome by his enemies. They made a laughingstock out of him, put him on display.

But yet that man, when God’s power rested upon him, he could do things that other people couldn’t do. He wasn’t just limited to human strength and ability. There was a divine ability conferred upon him, in this case to do amazing physical feats…to go out and kill 1,000 of the enemy with the jawbone of an ass. You see the illustration of what happens. You’ve got a normal human being, then you’ve got God’s power resting upon them, you’ve got divine ability conferred. And through that divine ability and his yielding to that and doing whatever it was that God wanted him to do, he was able to do amazing things that normal people couldn’t do.

Well, that’s a picture of what it means to serve God. God gives us ability that we do not possess, but we’re gonna have to relate to him on that ground. I’m gonna have to come and say, oh God, it isn’t a matter of my making up for what I just did, it isn’t a matter of my trying harder, it’s a matter of my surrendering more and believing more and confessing.

I mean, I had to do a lot this morning, with just coming in and saying, oh God, this is what Your Word said. You said there’s a Throne of Grace. My qualifications for coming to that throne are not what I do, it’s what Jesus did. He has bought the right for me to come. God, You know I need it. I don’t have any strength of my own.

And several scriptures came to me and it wasn’t a matter of some emotional surge. It was just a matter of saying, Lord, this is what You said, and I thank You that what You said is true. I thank You, Lord that what the devil is telling me right now is a lie, and I simply don’t accept it. I believe in what Jesus did. That is my hope—that is all of my hope.

What’s the song we sing? “Nothing in my hands…” But how many people actually really when they come to God…how many are coming that way? That’s why so many are not able to go through that narrow gate, because they won’t come with empty hands upon the ground of mercy. They are bound and determined to think…oh, I’ve got to do something; I have got to somehow do something and get God to accept me. I’ve got to be more religious, more spiritual, more something.

Oh no. You let God change you from the inside. God will empower you to be what He wants you to be. But you will never ever relate to God until first of all, you’re willing to give up your sins, and you’re willing to rely entirely upon what Jesus did, because that’s all God will accept.

I mean, how stupid is it for us to try to come to God any other way? God’s already declared…a God who cannot lie said this is what I accept, this is it, these are my terms. I’ve laid a foundation. You’re gonna try to build somewhere else? Good luck. This is my foundation. You get on that, you’ll be safe, and I will accept you.

I just pray that God will help us to wrap our minds and our hearts around this, because a lot of us live in a state of uncertainty and anxiety, even as Christians. Oh God, what is my standing before you? What have I got to do to get rid of these feelings? We’re gonna have to go right back to the Gospel. We’re gonna have to go right back to the Word of God and learn to simply accept what He has said and the terms that He has laid down. They are the only answer to our need. The only answer to our condition is Jesus, His death for our sins, His life for our salvation.

And I’ll tell you, God is gonna…I just pray that somebody today will, that the light will go on in your heart, because you’ve been struggling and you know you have. And you just can’t seem to get over it. You’re trying to feel accepted of God, trying to get that whatever it is you think you’re supposed to have. Just cry out to God. Cry out to God to make this truth real to you, because it’s real!

( congregational amens ).

This isn’t stuff we’re making up. This is the reality, this is the only Gospel, this is the only ground upon which God will ever save a human being. It’s Jesus and His blood and His righteousness, or it is nothing!

( congregational amens ).

And we need to lift Him up because He has…I mean, in Him there is perfect hope, because His righteousness is perfect. You know, if you think about the Old Testament…I did think about one other illustration. I don’t know if I can sort of cobble it together, or not. But you think about the sacrifices that the Lord prescribed for the Israelites. You read through Leviticus and Deuteronomy and some of those places, parts of Exodus, how specific God was about what they were to offer it, how they were to offer it, what they were to wear. Every little thing was prescribed.

And we know from the New Testament that the things that God instituted under the Law were what? They were shadows, they were pictures of good things to come. It was not that those things had spiritual virtue in and of themselves, but they were a shadow, as it were, of what Christ was going to be doing, and God was not justifying them because animals died, God was justifying them because they trusted in what He said. But God knew that His Son would one day bear their sins and on that ground that animal that they sacrificed represented what was yet to come.

But now you think about somebody who hears about a certain sacrifice that he needs to offer. I did this, okay I’m gonna bring a sacrifice. What if he said…effectively said, Lord I’ve got a better idea. I don’t know if that’s gonna be enough. I’ve got to get a certain feeling here. I’m gonna bring some vegetables. I’m gonna bring some other animal. I’m gonna bring a bunch of rabbits. You know, just use your imagination. Whatever it is, there’s something else where he doesn’t quite believe that that particular thing done exactly as God prescribed it was really gonna do the job, and he just didn’t quite…wasn’t quite ready to accept that.

Folks, that’s a picture. Imagine somebody actually doing that. Would that person actually be accepted of God? Oh man, that would have been a hanging offence, as it were. Folks, we’re gonna have to come to God, God’s way, and I promise if you seek God with all of your heart, and you’re willing to come upon the ground of the only Gospel that there is, God will receive you.

There’s people here that God wants to give assurance that they really know Him. And I believe He’s here and I believe He’s willing to do it. And I don’t think you have to wait. God can touch your heart right now, and save you and fill you with a sense and the knowledge…not a knowledge I can give you, but the knowledge that He alone can give you in your heart that you are a child of God, that He has accepted you because you finally got down to the place where you were willing to accept that Jesus’ blood was the only hope that you had of coming to Him. Praise God!

Return to Library of Articles