What does it mean to be fallen from grace, or to “fall from grace?” I can recall news stories with the headlines reading “[insert actor name] has fallen from grace” due to their recent troubles with the law, drugs, or moral outrage from the public. (Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan come to mind automatically) Some of these actors may have gotten their start through the “wholesome” Disney channel but soon moved on to more controversial subject matter as they became older. However, it seems when these phrases are used outside of Scripture, they are indicating of a fall from innocence, rather than a fall from grace.
When Scripture uses this phrase, it doesn’t refer to a loss of innocence. We know that no one is innocent (Rom 2:10) except the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:22). We don’t fall from grace because of the things we do or do not do; rather we fall from grace when we believe we can gain innocence on our own.
1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
Galatians 5:1-5 (ESV)
Paul is telling the church that by trusting in the law, earning our way to a right standing will not grant us a status of innocence nor will it make our hearts closer to God. Those who rely on something other than faith in Christ became severed from Christ. We don’t fall from grace by not doing enough to gain God’s favor, or when we sin against God. We fall from grace when we don’t put our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation. Grace is not something to be earned nor lost, it is given freely as a gift by God for those who humble themselves knowing they are not innocent.