Falling From Grace

The words “Christ is become of no effect unto you,” must be understood in their context to refer, not to their justification but to their spiritual lives as Christians. The apostle is not here speaking of their standing but of their experience. The words “become of not effect,” are from KATERGEO which means “to make ineffectual,” and which used with the word APO (from) as it is here, means “to be without effect from, to be unaffected by, to be without effective relation to.” The word is applied to any destruction of growth or life, physical or spiritual. Joined with APO (from), it speaks of the loss of some essential element of life by the severance of previous intimate relations. The subject of the verb here is the Galatian Christians. One could translate “You have become unaffected by Christ.” or, “You have become without effective relation to Christ.” The idea is that the Galatian Christians, by putting themselves under law, have put themselves in a place where they have cased to be in that relation to Christ where they could derive the spiritual benefits from Him which would enable them to live a life pleasing to Him, namely, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Christ has no effect upon them in the living of their Christian lives.

In depriving themselves of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the living of a Christian life, they have fallen from grace. The words “fallen from” are from EKPIPTO which means “to fail of, to lose one’s hold of.” The Galatian Christians had lost their hold upon the grace for daily living which heretofore had been ministered to them by the Holy Spirit. God’s grace manifests itself in three ways, in justification, sanctification, and glorification. The context rules. All through Galatians Chapter five, Paul is talking about the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the believer. Therefore, grace here must be interpreted as the daily grace for living of which the Galatian Christians were depriving themselves.

But because they had lost their hold upon sanctifying grace, does not mean that God’s grace had lost its hold upon them in the sphere of justification. Because they had refused to accept God’s grace in sanctification is no reason why God should withdraw His grace for justification. They had received the latter when they accepted the Lord Jesus. That transaction was closed and permanent at the moment they believed. Justification is a judicial act of God done once and for all. Sanctification is a process which goes on all through the Christian’s life. Just because the process of sanctification is temporarily retarded in a believer’s life, does not say that his justification is taken away. If that were the case, then the retention of salvation would depend upon the believer’s works, and then salvation would not depend upon grace anymore. And we find ourselves in the camp of the Judaizers, ancient and modern.