You have fallen from grace.
– Galatians 5:4
He stands sweating in the spotlight, fending off a crush of media circling the podium at the scent of blood in the water.
His wife stands stoically behind him. A tight smile is frozen on her face, but her eyes tell the real story of betrayal: shame, disappointment, resentment.
You’ve seen it before. It’s become commonplace for both Christian and secular celebrities to be found straying from their public image. The words “fallen from grace” evoke images of disgraced televangelists and sleazy elected officials.
You know, the people in the gutter.
The phrase “fallen from grace” is often used for folks like these, especially if we’ve decided they just lost their salvation. There is, however, only one place in the Bible where the phrase “fallen from grace” is used. That reference has nothing to do with those who have sinned beyond possibility of redemption.
But if Paul wasn’t talking to the backslider, to whom was he talking?
This is the entire verse:
You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
– Ephesians 5:4
The letter to the church in Galatians addressed a particular problem plaguing the early Christians. False teachers had arisen, insisting that Gentiles who wanted to convert to Christianity must first become Jewish followers and practice the Mosaic law.
Paul argued that forcing believers to live under the Law of Moses sentenced believers to a life of working to earn their salvation. This practice sidesteps the acknowledgement of our inability to fulfill righteousness on our own and voids the sacrifice of Christ. Without Christ’s redemption, there is no grace.
Mankind proved his inability to keep the Ten Commandments long before Jesus Christ was born.
From Adam on down through the generations, every single human failed to obey God’s Word. No perfect man lived who could fulfill the law.
So God did it Himself. His sacrifice ransomed us from the grip of Satan and sealed us in a new covenant.
In the book of Galatians, Paul argues Christ has freed us from the Law of Moses. We now live in an age of grace, a glorious – and undeserved – favor bought for us with Christ’s blood. Sinning grieves God, but it does not result in a fall from grace. Indeed, it magnifies the need for it.
Is it possible to fall from grace? Yes, it is if we seek to circumvent it by attempting to please God without Christ.
It’s cruel and judgmental to take away the hope of those who have given in to sin by stamping them with words meant for those who want to enslave us again to the law. Instead, let’s encourage each other to fall into grace, headlong, with gratitude and joy.
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