“You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4 WEB).
Grace (Greek: “Charis”) speaks of God’s favour, goodness or blessing bestowed voluntarily and lavishly upon men who did not merit or deserve it.
What all men deserve from God is judgement, condemnation and eternal death; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23 NKJV).
But rather than giving us what we truly deserve, God gave us in and through Christ Jesus what we did not and can never deserve or merit through our performance, self-righteousness or good works.
Paul testifies to this truth in his epistle to the Church at Ephesus.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. (NKJV).
Our self-righteousness or good works can never procure or secure for us the inexhaustible riches of grace that are now made available to us in and through Jesus Christ.
It is only through faith in the person of Jesus and His finished redemptive work that you can gain access into “the grace-mine” to explore, enjoy or appropriate the inexhaustible riches, provisions or supplies of grace.
Paul aptly states this truth.
2 Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. (RSV).
However, the Scripture warns us about the possibility and danger of falling away from grace.
4 You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace. (WEB).
What does it mean to fall away from grace?
The term “fallen away from grace” does not imply losing salvation as a result of one’s sins. Unfortunately, this is the general perception or understanding of the term or phrase among the believers today. But, this is definitely not what this scripture is talking about.
Paul used the expression, “you have fallen from grace” to describe the sudden shift or departure of the Galatians believers from faith alone in Jesus Christ and His finished work to themselves and the works of the law as the basis of having a loving and intimate relationship with God and enjoying God’s favour and blessing.
The foolish Galatians fell away from grace while seeking to add their good works according to the Law of Moses to the finished work of Jesus as a means of earning or obtaining God’s love, acceptance, favour, or blessing.
Like all believers, the Galatians Christians were saved by grace through faith in the person of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for their sins on the cross. But, after a while they embraced “another gospel” which advocated that faith alone in what Christ has done is not enough to have a loving and intimate relationship with God and to enjoy God’s love, acceptance, favour or blessing.
Sadly, the Galatians Christians turned away from grace to the works of the law, especially circumcision, for the purpose of obtaining or enjoying God’s love, acceptance, favour, blessing or salvation (Gal. 5:1-8). Indeed, they are foolish Galatians that Paul called them!
Like the foolish Galatians, who began their walk with God by faith and in the Spirit but later began to seek perfection by the works of the law, many believers today are also falling away from grace by seeking to please and impress God or by striving to earn and deserve God’s love, acceptance, favour, or blessing by their performance, self-righteousness, good works or holy acts.
When you seek to add your performance, self-righteousness, good works or holy acts to the finished work of Jesus Christ as a basis of having a loving and intimate relationship with God or as a means of obtaining and enjoying God’s approval, favour, goodness or blessing; you have fallen away from grace!
Beloved, you have fallen away from grace when like the foolish Galatians you are seeking to impress, compel, motivate or manipulate God to love, accept, or bless you on the basis of your good performance, self-righteousness, good works or holy acts – fasting and prayers, giving tithes and offerings, or doing ministry.
If you are a believer in Christ, the Scripture clearly teaches that God has loved, accepted and blessed you perfectly, completely and eternally in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and through His finished work.
Paul clearly presents this truth in his epistle to the Ephesians.
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. (NKJV).
Therefore, whenever you approach God, seeking to move, motivate, persuade or manipulate Him to love, accept, help, favour or bless you on the basis or account of some good works you have done, you are no longer standing on the finished work of Jesus Christ and thus you have fallen away from grace.
What is the danger of fallen away from grace?
You will be estranged, severed, or alienated from Christ!
4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (NKJV).
When you are seeking to receive God’s favour, approval or blessing on your personal merit or on the basis of your performance, self-righteousness, good works or holy acts, you are simply belittling, despising and discarding the finished work of Jesus Christ and its benefits.
Anyone who despises and discards the perfect and finished work of Christ as the only true basis of having a loving, intimate and personal relationship with God is cut off from Christ and the blessings of Christ’s perfect and finished work of redemption.
Paul bluntly warns the foolish Galatians believers who were seeking to add their personal righteous works to the finished work of Christ as a basis of having a loving and intimate relationship with God, saying, “You are cut off from Christ, you who would have righteousness by the law; you are turned away from grace.” (Gal. 5:4 BBE).
Beloved, it is a fearful thing to fall away from grace. When you fall away from grace to stand in your own righteousness, you will be cut off from the inexhaustible riches of God’s grace available in and through Christ.
The Lord Jesus warns in John 15:
6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (NKJV).
Have you fallen away from grace by departing from faith in Christ and His finished work to yourself and your imperfect works?
It is never too late to return to Christ and to stand before God by faith alone in Christ’s perfect and finished redemptive work and thus begin to enjoy unrestricted access to the unlimited riches of grace.
Repent today and embrace God’s grace by faith alone in Jesus Christ and His finished work alone!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I repent today of my sin of seeking to earn Your love, approval, favour and blessing on the basis of my performance, self-righteousness or good works. My Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me to live daily by grace and through faith alone in Christ Jesus, in Jesus’ name. Amen.