“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them'” (Galatians 3:10).
Galatians 3:10 identifies an important issue for those who are seeking to find salvation through the Old Testament Law. That problem is outlined in the Biblical book of Deuteronomy: “Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out” (Deuteronomy 27:26 NIV).
In this respect, the Old Testament Law has been compared to the links in a bicycle chain. If one link in a bicycle chain suddenly breaks, the entire chain is useless no matter how good the rest of it may be. In a similar manner, a person who fails to keep one aspect of the Law is guilty of violating the entire Law- or as we read in the New Testament epistle of James, “…whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:9 ESV).
We can also express this idea with the example of a person who is driving an automobile above the legal speed limit. If a speeding driver is apprehended by the authorities, that motorist should not expect to be excused on the basis that he or she has always been a good citizen, has never stolen anything, or volunteers to help the poor.
You see, no amount of good conduct in other areas of life can make up for the fact that the person in our illustration has broken the law. The same can be said for those who enter a works-based relationship with God. The person who seeks to find acceptance with God on the basis of his or her good works is placed under the obligation of keeping the entire Law- and a person who is guilty of breaking the Law in one area has effectively broken all of it.
One source illustrates this idea with the following anecdote…
“Suppose I had kept all of the laws of Pasadena, which is my home city, for twenty years. Then I wait at my house for the officials of Pasadena to come and present me with a medal for keeping those laws. Let me tell you, they do not give medals for keeping the law in Pasadena. If I had kept every law for twenty years and then stole something or broke a speeding law, I would be arrested. You see, the law does not reward you. It does not give you life. The law penalizes you.” (1)
(1) J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, [5:168] quoted in Constable, Thomas. DD. Notes on Galatians 2017 Edition (3:10). Copyright © 2017 Thomas L. Constable. https://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/galatians/galatians.htm