3-Week Series: Double Blessing

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Summary: If you have been saved by trusting Christ, and then you go down to the low level of living by the Law, you have fallen from grace. This is what “falling from grace” actually means.

December 7, 2013

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Tom Lowe

Chapter IV.A.3: The Law Alienates Christ (5:4-6)

Galatians 5:4-6 (KJV)

4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Commentary

4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Since nobody has ever been justified by keeping the Law, “whosoever of you are justified by the law” would be better stated, “whosoever of you SEEK to be justified by the Law.”

The word “fallen” in this verse is “ekpipto” in the Greek and the literal meaning is “to have been driven out of one’s course,” and it conveys the idea of “sailors whose ship has been driven off course.” It is the same word used in Acts 27, in the account of the shipwreck. Luke says in Acts 27:17 that the sailors feared—“ . . . lest they should FALL into the quicksands, strake sail (lowered the sails) (Acts 27:17). In verse 29 of Acts 27 we read: “Then fearing lest we should have FALLEN upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day” (Acts 27:29).

Hopefully, this helps us to understand the meaning of the expression, “fallen from grace.” Paul is saying, “Those of you who think you can be saved or kept by the Law—you have been driven off course and have missed the grace of God.” Paul was greatly stressed by the conduct of these Galatians. Surely, not all of the Galatians had turned from grace to Law, but they were, at least, considering it. It made him wonder if he had been mistaken when he believed they were truly converted. He says in Galatians 4:11, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Gal. 4:11).

Was the time he spent with them wasted; was his preaching to them ineffective and useless. He says, I am starting to doubt that you were ever saved because you are following these false teachers of the law. Paul would not permit any tampering with the grace of God. Rather, therefore, than relying upon the works of the law, Paul says: “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 4:5-6).

If you have been saved by trusting Christ, and then you go down to the low level of living by the Law, you have fallen from grace. This is what “falling from grace” actually means. So, you see, falling from grace does not mean falling into some open sin or careless conduct, and by so doing forfeiting your salvation so that you have to be saved all over again. It has nothing to do with that at all. “Falling from grace” is the opposite of “once saved always saved,” although both expressions are unfortunate terminology. Paul deals with this matter of falling from grace in the remainder of this chapter. He also deals with it in his Epistle to the Romans. In Romans he begins with man being totally bankrupt—without righteousness, completely depraved, as worthless as rotten fruit. Man is a sinner before God. Then at the conclusion of Romans you see man in the service of God and being admonished to perform certain things. Not only is he admonished to do certain things, he is completely separated to God, and he must be obedient to God.

There are two mighty works of God that stand between man in his fallen condition and man in service to God. These are: salvation and justification. As we have seen, salvation is justification by faith. That is very important to see. Sanctification means that after you are saved you must come up to a new level of living. I think one of the greatest misconceptions is the belief that service is essential in the Christian life, and that you must get busy working for the Lord immediately. The early church was more concerned with its manner of life, and their lives were a witness to the world. Today the outside world is looking at the church and passing it by because we are busy, as busy as termites, but we do not have lives that will back up our witness. Rather than concentrating on trying to do good, we ought to live “good.” If we are pleasing Christ, we must be doing good. I think there is more about sanctification in the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians than anything else.

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