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Have You Fallen from Grace?


“Grace is neither withheld nor reduced because of sin.”

I have been asked many times if a born again believer can fall from the grace of God since Galatians 5:4 says, “you have fallen from grace.”

The context of that statement is Jewish teachers who emphasized that a person had to keep the Law of Moses to be saved had confuse the Christians in the church at Galatia. They were insisting that all non-Jews must be circumcised and become Jews first. The apostle Paul had taught them clearly that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ (Gal. 1:10; 2:16-21; 3:1-14, 22-29; 5:5-6). Paul wrote his letter to the church admonishing the believers to stand firm against the bondage of legalism. The immediate context states Paul’s conviction clearly, “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:2-4).

Paul is not saying, “You have lost your salvation.” What happens when you fall from grace? You fall into law observance. You become legalists. A. T. Robertson, writes, "'You left the sphere of grace in Christ and took your stand in the sphere of law’ as your hope of salvation. Paul does not mince words and carries the logic to the end of the course. He is not, of course, speaking of occasional sins, but he has in mind a far more serious matter, that of substituting law for Christ as the agent in salvation.”

It is a very serious matter. Paul is concerned that if the Galatians accepted the right of circumcision as necessary for salvation, then they would be leaving the principle of grace and going back to the Mosaic Law.

Here are two opposing approaches to God. One system based on legalism and the other on God's grace. The same error can be seen in a church that teaches that salvation depends on repentance, confession, faith, baptism, and church membership as opposed to one that emphasizes salvation by grace through faith. There is nothing wrong with these teachings except when they become the means of salvation. Baptism by immersion and church membership are not things you do in order to be saved. That is legalism at its worst scenario.

The biggest tragedy for the believer is that he is robbed of the spiritual wealth that is his by abiding in Christ. Legalists rob the Christian of his liberty. Legalists do not live by the Spirit, but by rules and regulations. He is bound to laws and traditions instead of walking by faith in Christ. Legalism gives a false sense of security, but it chokes the Christ-life out of the believer.

No matter how much morality a person attains by legalism he still comes short of the glory of God. No radically depraved sinner can live up to the expectations of God. He may live up to another sinner's expectations, but not according to God's standards.

However, when God saves us by grace and we live by grace through faith in Christ we share in the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7), the wealth of His glorious inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:18; Phil. 4:19), the riches of His wisdom (Rom. 11:33), and the unfathomable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8). Moreover, in Christ we have "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3), and we are "complete in Him" (Col. 2:10). Once a person is "in Christ," he has all that he needs to live the kind of Christian life God wants him to live. Legalism keeps you bound up with the system of men and men's expectations as opposed to God.   

God will never decrease His grace toward you because of your sin. Your sins, all of them have been dealt with by the atoning death of Christ. “All my sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,” wrote Horatio Spafford. The basis for such belief is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ imparted to the believing sinner. We have been justified by grace alone through faith in Christ.

You cannot fall from grace, but you can break the Law. Our breaking of the Law causes us to cast ourselves upon the grace of God and plead for His mercy. Christ died for all our sins. Jesus paid it all. Our knowledge of sin should make us pray, “God be merciful to me the sinner.”



Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006





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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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