Thoughts on Galatians #12
Who or what comes to mind when you hear the phrase “fallen from grace”? The Cambridge Idioms Dictionary defines “to fall from grace” as “to do something bad which makes people in authority stop liking you or admiring you” (2nd ed.; Cambridge University Press 2006). The phrase comes from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. And how does Paul suggest the Galatians have “fallen from grace”? By being law-abiding! “You who are achieving righteousness by Law have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4; Gordon Fee’s translation). Life under Torah was the old order; life in the Spirit is the new order inaugurated by Christ who has brought Torah observance to an end. Those who put themselves under the Law thereby alienate themselves from Christ. They make things “count” which in Christ do not count, such as circumcision.
The Galatian Christians had apparently started to observe the days and seasons of the Jewish festival calendar and were now seriously contemplating becoming circumcised. Paul warns them that if they go ahead, they will switch to an old operating system. This is serious business because the new creation only runs on the upgraded new operating system. You have to decide whether your modus operandi is the law or Christ. This is also true for us, a legal attitude to life before God is incompatible with life in the Spirit through faith in Christ.