What it Means to Fall From Grace
What does it mean to fall from grace?
You may have heard this saying used when a preacher commits a sexual or moral sin. But is this what the Bible actually means when it refers to ‘falling from grace’?
One of the most twisted and misunderstood scriptures in all of the Bible is found in Galatians 5:4. It says:
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Galatians 5:4 KJV
Religion has taken this verse and majorly misunderstood it and then taught it wrong.
Falling from grace does not mean you have fallen into some type of sexual or moral sin.
Falling from grace means that you are trying to be justified by how well you obey the laws and rules of the old covenant.
If you are attempting to be righteous in God’s sight by how well you live, you have fallen from grace.
The righteousness that is required to be right before God is a standard that you could never, ever achieve.
It’s like a ceiling that’s 100 feet high. Whether you can jump one foot or five feet in the air, you’re nowhere close to hitting it.
FALLING FROM GRACE DOES NOT REFER TO FALLING INTO SIN; IT REFERS TO FALLING BACK UNDER THE LAW.
Why Jesus Came to Earth
Jesus came to earth to become the sacrifice for our sins and restore to us our righteousness and authority.
He is the only man that has ever achieved God’s standard of righteousness.
He lived a completely righteous life, the very righteousness of God on earth. He fulfilled the Old Covenant law perfectly, and then gave us that righteousness as a gift.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5: 21 NKJV
Receiving what Jesus has done is the ONLY way to obtain righteousness in God’s sight.
This is what Jesus meant when He said:
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 NKJV
Did you catch that? Basically He was saying that the absolute perfection of God is the standard to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Pharisees, like many people today, were ignorant of achieving right standing (righteousness) with God through simply receiving His forgiveness by faith. Instead, they were trying to earn salvation by their acts.
No one can fulfill God’s commands (Romans 3:23) but Jesus (Hebrews 4:15).
Therefore, to be righteous, we must put our faith in what He has done for us (Romans 9:31-10:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:11-12, and 5:4-6).
Every single person that has ever lived, apart from Jesus, has fallen short of God’s perfect standard.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Romans 3:23-24
Most people know the verse 23, but completely overlook verse 24. We have been justified BY HIS GRACE. Not by our performance. This is what the good news of the Gospel is!
We are justified and made righteous apart from our performance. This is really, really good news!
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been forgiven and justified, just as if we had never sinned.
We’ve been given righteousness as a gift. This righteousness can never be diminished or taken away.
If we could have obtained righteousness through the law, then there would have been no need for Christ to come!
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:21 NKJV
You no longer have to earn God’s blessings. Simply receive them by grace.
Everything we receive from God is by grace because of what Jesus has done.
That includes the gift of our salvation, and every other blessing included with that—healing, provision, good success, protection, happy and healthy relationships, etc.
All these blessings are unearned and undeserved. They are received by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
Who Can Fall From Grace?
You may have been taught that if you have sin in your life, Christ becomes of no effect.
However, what Galatians 5:4 says is that Christ becomes of no effect to anyone who is trying to be “justified by the law”. These people have fallen from grace.
When we have been justified by grace but then put ourselves back under the law in order to earn God’s blessings—that’s when Christ becomes of no effect in our lives and we have fallen from grace.
Jesus bore the full punishment for our sins and gave us His righteousness. This is the reason we can be blessed today.
When we try to earn God’s blessings instead of simply receiving them because of what Christ has done, then Christ becomes of no effect in our lives. And this is what it means to fall from grace.
Because of the New Covenant, we are now under the grace of God and no longer under the law!
To be free from the law means that we are no longer blessed or cursed based upon our performance, whether we behave perfectly or not. We are blessed because of our belief in what Jesus did!
This is what so many Christians have missed! They’ve missed the good news!
When they mess up, they expect to be cursed somehow, or punished by God. But God poured out all of the judgment and punishment for sin on Jesus in our place.
Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law. What good news!
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Galatians 3: 13-14 NKJV
In fact, it is when we try to earn righteousness by the law that we put ourselves under a curse.
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.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” Galatians 3: 10-12 NKJV
Are We Free to Sin?
When people begin to understand that our righteousness is separate from our performance, they usually ask “then are we free to live in sin?”
This is the same question they asked the Apostle Paul when he preached the gospel (see Romans 6).
Paul answered this question by basically saying (paraphrased) “It’s impossible!” When you have been born again, your new nature doesn’t want to sin! Your new nature brings forth righteousness, not sin.
As you renew your mind to who you really are, sin becomes so incredibly unattractive.
The old, sinful nature that caused you to sin is gone, and has been replaced with a new nature that loves God and wants only His wonderful ways.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 NKJV
“Liberty” in this verse refers to freedom from the law, not freedom to sin.
Only when you are free from the law can you follow the Spirit and walk in holiness. It is the Holy Spirit in us who produces holiness that the law could NEVER do.
The “yoke of bondage” in this verse does not refer to sin but refers to the law.
We have been set free from the law. When we try to receive honor and blessings from God by how well we behave, we fall from His glorious grace.
There is SO much more to say on this topic. I recommend reading:
Salvation by Faith: Exactly What It Means
Does the New Testament Replace the Old Testament?