Fallen From Grace
Lucifer fell from grace. Kings and Queens fall from grace. What does it mean for the Christian to fall from grace? This phrase, “fallen from grace,” is rather common in our vocabulary. It usually conjures images of televangelists and charismatic leaders who slipped into a sex scandal or embezzlement scheme. It only appears once in Scripture, and its application would be a surprise to most:
“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).
What is the “worst sin?” Sexual immorality? Pride? Unforgiveness? Murder? According to Scripture, these sins don’t cut you off from God’s grace. In fact, whenever you commit any sins of this sort, terrible as they may be, you have the opportunity to experience more of God’s grace: “Where sin abounds, grace super-abounds” (see Romans 5:20). God is waiting for you with wide open arms to receive his grace!
But Legalism. Legalism is the sin where you set your own will in opposition to receiving from God. In all other sins you still maintain a link to God through the blood of Christ and the Spirit of grace. But legalism means an obstinate rejection of Christ’s work. It says “No” to Christ’s work and “Yes” to my work. I am a good Christian because of what I do, I have God’s favor because I do good works, because I am obedient. I maintain my forgiveness because I confess my sins – because I repay my debt to God. But grace is all about God; there is no room for “I” in grace, only “him.” His works, his obedience, his forgiveness, his blood, his righteousness, our debt paid by him. Legalism cuts us off from God because we openly (or unknowingly) reject the finished work of Christ – the free gift of God – and rely on our own righteousness, our own spirituality – which is no righteousness, no spirituality, in the sight of God (that is, apart from our union with Christ).
We have nothing to offer God except that which we have received in Christ. It’s an all or nothing deal – it’s all about God, and nothing about us. This is the freedom of the Christian. Freedom from having to measure up, the freedom of security, and the blessing to fail or succeed without our Father’s love for us rising or falling. To reject this is to put ourselves under the iron yoke of law. And according to the standards of God’s Law of perfection, “Your best isn’t good enough.” But Christ’s best is more than enough. Let us resist resisting Christ. Ruthlessly root out legalism from your life. If you have fallen from grace, surrender your tower of Babel, cut down your throne of me-righteousness, and let Christ lift you back to the heavens.