“Did you hear about that celebrity pastor and his secretary? What a fall from grace!”
The fall-from-grace phrase is sometimes used to describe famous people who have fallen into sin, but that is not what fall from grace means in the Bible.
When you sin you don’t fall from grace but into grace. It’s not possible to sin yourself beyond the reach of God’s love. His best is better than your worst, and his grace is greater than your sin (see Rom. 5:20).
You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:4)
What does it mean to fall from grace? We fall from the high place of grace when we start walking after the flesh. Typically, this happens by accident:
I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. (Galatians 5:4, MSG)
Here’s how it happens. You come to Jesus because of grace.
“Thank you, Jesus. I’m saved by grace.”
But then you hear that you need to pray more, give more, serve more to produce fruit or get blessed.
“I’ll do it for you Jesus!”
There is nothing wrong with praying, giving and serving. The problem is in thinking you have to do these things to merit God’s favor.
“I’m gonna give to get. I’m gonna fast and pray until the walls come down. I’m going obey the law because it will please the Lord.”
BAM! You have just traded faith for works and you have fallen from grace.
Paul told the Galatians, “You have been severed from Christ.” This what happens when we stop trusting the Lord and start relying on our own effort. We cut ourselves off from the flow of heavenly favor.
But falling from grace does not mean you have lost your salvation. You may let go of Christ, but he will never let go of you. Even when you are faithless, he remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Fall from grace and you will lose your freedom, but Paul never tells the Galatians, “You are losing your salvation.” Instead, he says, “You are indulging the flesh” (Gal. 5:13).
The Galatians were becoming carnal, biting and devouring one another in vicious arguments. The danger was not that God would destroy them, but that you “will be destroyed by each other” (Gal. 5:15).
To fall from grace is just about the worst thing that can happen to a believer. Like a bird that falls from the sky, we end up broken and vulnerable.
Christ will be of no benefit to you. (Galatians 5:2)
Christ did not die to make you religious. He died to set you free. If you bind yourself with obligation, debt, and duty, what was the point?
You who are seeking to be justified by law. (Galatians 5:4)
The strange thing is we know this. We know that no one is justified or made right with God by doing good works or keeping the law (Rom. 3:20). We know that justification is a gift of grace that is received by faith (Rom. 3:28).
But we forget. We miss the telltale signs of living under law.
“Just tell me what to do, Lord, and I’ll do it!”
Before you know it, we’re standing with the Israelites at the foot of Mt Sinai begging God for rules.
It’s like Jesus died for nothing.
How do we resist the temptation to come back under law?
Keep standing firm and DO NOT be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
We have to take a stand. We have to have zero tolerance for mixture. When the law-preachers come looking for fresh meat, we have to make a ruckus.
“Beware the wolves in sheep’s clothing!”
How much noise should we make? Well that depends on how much you value your freedom.
So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Galatians 5:1, MSG)
Jesus paid a high price for your freedom. Stay free.
Update: For the past few months I have been working on a book entitled Original Sin: What Does the Bible Really Say? It will be out at the end of this year, but draft chapters are available now on Patreon.