by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta
Grace is the Lord’s gift of favor and mercy given to us for salvation because of the sacrifice of Christ. We are given eternal life, the fruit of the spirit, and power over the enemy of our souls because of what Jesus did at the cross. We accept His finished work by faith not by something we do (Ephesians 2:8).
What did Paul mean when he told the Galatians they had fallen from grace?
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4)
Old Testament Grace
Under the Old Covenant Jehovah instituted His commandments to show His people what sin was and how much they needed a Savior. This required performance to receive favor.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17 NIV)
If they obeyed God, offered sacrifices for sin, and didn’t adopt the ways of the idol worshipping nations around them, they were given mercy. Righteousness was put on their account for the future until the Savior would arrive to permanently wash away sin (Hebrews 10:6-7).
Those who were willing to obey the Lord were given acceptance into the fold such as Rahab and Ruth. David was spared the punishment the Law demanded after he sinned with Bathsheba, though he did suffer the consequence of the death of his child (2 Samuel 12:13-14).
The Shadow of Things to Come
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration of a Sabbath day. They are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)
As Paul wrote in Galatians, to fall from grace means we have taken ourselves away from approaching the throne based on God’s gift of salvation and instead we start seeking favor and answers from Him based on our performance. We go back to law-keeping in our thoughts and actions.
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. (Colossians 2:20-22)
Law-keeping for us today means trying to please the Father through achievements such as how much we attend church, give offerings, read the Bible, help people, and anything else we view that a gold-star on our heavenly chart would get us. All these deeds are important, but they are the result of our relationship, not the way we approach God.
When we do this, we have fallen away from living under the worthiness Jesus bought and put ourselves back into the performance mindset. What our behavior says is that Jesus is not enough. Our efforts represent obtaining salvation our own way.
Works produces condemnation because just like the Old Testament Law, it cannot save us. The fruit of the flesh is through our efforts, but God’s gift blooms through the fruit of the Spirit.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:17-18)
Grace is Greater Than Sin
We cannot sin beyond Christ’s ability to save us. Falling from grace doesn’t mean we are thrown out of the family of God. He told us He would never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 13:8).
The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21)
God never intended for people to live under the Law forever. Grace is God’s part in the plan of salvation as He presented to us the eternal gift of His Son. Faith is our part when we receive what He did. Our identity in Christ is secure. All we need to do is live in the knowledge that we are complete in Him.
What are your thoughts? Join the conversation.
This post is an excerpt from my article originally published on Crosswalk.com.