The phrase “fall from grace” is a religious term commonly used to describe a believer who struggles with sin. It also refers to those who chose to go back into the world and live as they did before they were saved.
But what does the Bible actually teach about falling from grace? Most believers are shocked to find out that falling from grace isn’t about yielding to or practicing sin. The apostle Paul first uses this term in his letter to the Galatians. He told them when they left Jesus and stopped trusting in all He did for them and started keeping the old covenant law to maintain their righteousness with God, that they had fallen from grace.
“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).
I have traveled around the world sharing the gospel for almost 40 years. I have visited hundreds of churches in that time. Often, when I ask the pastors about certain people I got to know in their congregations from previous visits, inevitably, the pastors will say, “Oh, that brother has fallen.” I would then be told about the sin he has surrendered to and no longer attends that church.
Whenever we confuse people’s struggle with sin as their “falling from grace,” we do them and God’s grace a disservice. The truth is sin isn’t what causes a believer to fall from grace. Paul told the Galatians it was their replacement of their faith in Jesus with law-keeping that caused them to fall from grace.
Falling from grace simply means you are no longer in faith to allow God’s power to work in your heart. When you trust in keeping the law and commandments, that is simply trusting in your flesh or your abilities. When you trust your flesh, you cease from trusting Jesus. As believers, we connect to God by faith in our hearts. When we trust in our performances aka law-keeping, etc., we disconnect from faith in our hearts to trusting in our own abilities aka flesh. This disconnect is deceptive for many because they think keeping the laws and commandments of God is pleasing to Him. But what really pleases God is faith, not works.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
It always saddens me to hear about a believer struggling with sin and unable to walk in victory over it. But when churches cannot distinguish what “falling from grace” is, it is understandable to me why they are struggling with sin. They have fought it for so long without relief they just get tired and quit. It is similar to a person fighting a life-threatening disease. After so many battles, ups and downs, and disappointments, they just give up because they have lost hope.
The beauty of the gospel when understood correctly is that it brings encouragement and hope to our hearts. Therefore, we don’t give up. Sure, believers mess up and sometimes make very bad decisions in their lives that bring on terrific consequences. However, none of that changes the fact God loves you, hasn’t forsaken you, and deeply desires to connect with your heart. That way, He can manifest His power to help you overcome your situation, no matter how bad or dire it appears.
When we see a person’s struggle with sin as “falling from grace,” we need to know that isn’t what falling from grace is. Jumping out of a plane can kill you. But if you know you have a parachute on, it can save you from certain death and give you a soft landing. Grace is like that parachute; it is there to prevent death and destruction, but you must trust it for it to work. If you ignore or don’t trust the parachute, and you try to navigate a safe landing in your own ability, you will fail, and death will be the end result.
The truth is God’s grace doesn’t leave us, but we can leave God’s grace when we stop trusting in Jesus and trust in our performances to make us acceptable to God and worthy of His blessings.
We only fall from grace when we lose our focus on Jesus and forget all His goodness to us..
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 4:1-2).