“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:4)
We often hear in the news, when some celebrity or successful preacher has been caught in a scandal, that they have “fallen from grace”. Obviously this is meant to describe how they have fallen from their position of fame and of good reputation into a place of shame and bad reputation. However, the expression “fallen from grace” is originally found in the Bible, in the book of Galatians.
In Galatians “fallen from grace” means something completely different than how this expression is used by the secular media today. The Apostle Paul told the Galatians that they had fallen from grace because they had stopped trusting in God’s grace and what Jesus has done as the only way by which they could please God and be righteous before Him. Instead of trusting only in Jesus, they started trusting in their own performance and goodness as well. The Galatians had started well, by receiving the gospel of grace, but after a while, a legalistic teaching had infiltrated the church so that they thought that it was necessary for them to be circumcised – like the Jews living under the law – to have right standing before God and in order to receive blessings from Him.
The expression “fallen from grace” refers to anytime we as born-again believers stop trusting in what Jesus has done alone, and instead trust in how good we have been at living up to a certain religious standard, whether it’s about circumcision like in Galatians, or whether we trust in our prayer life, our fasting, or giving, or in anything else that we have done, as opposed to what Jesus has done for us.
To truly fall from grace is actually very dangerous. The moment we stop trusting in Jesus as our savior, we actually risk losing our salvation. I don’t believe it is easy for a born-again believer to lose his/her salvation. I think it is difficult. But I think it happens – not when Christians commit what we in the church would regard as serious sins or mistakes, but when Christians stop trusting in what Jesus has done for them on the cross as the only way by which they can have eternal life. Whenever we start trusting in our own good works we are in a dangerous place.
It might be that category of people Jesus addressed when He said that He will say to people who even have prophesied, cast out demons, and performed miracles in His name: “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Mt 7:23).
The good news of the Gospel is that if we as born-again believers commit a serious sin we don’t fall from grace; we fall into God’s ocean of grace. Maybe you have done something that you deeply regret and wonder whether God still loves you and wants to bless you. As long as you trust in Jesus and what He has done for you as the basis of your salvation, you have not fallen from grace. Allow yourself to fall into His amazing and unlimited grace. In Him you have forgiveness from sin, in Him you are righteous, holy, and fully acceptable to God – no matter what your present circumstances are and no matter what mistakes you may have made.
The Bible says: “a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again…” (Prov. 24:16).
If you have fallen, God is telling you: My grace is greater than your shortcomings. Trust in what I have done for you, through Jesus Christ. And then rise up and start walking again, knowing that Jesus himself is your righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). His grace is sufficient for you.