Galatians 5:1-4, “1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
In my study time on Galatians 5, I paused on vs. 4 and started working my way backwards to get a grasp as to what Paul wanted us to understand. Some have suggested that vs. 4 is one of the strong passages to show that it is possible for one to lose their salvation. I do not believe that is what Paul is addressing here.
The first vs, Paul is trying to distinguish (separating) between law and grace instead of mashing them together as many do, example Catholics. He says one enslaves (law) and the other gives freedom (grace). Here the Galatians who had become brethren began to add some aspect of the law and circumcision as prerequisite to salvation. Paul reminds them they were freed from the law by grace through faith in Christ and should not put that bondage on themselves and on others because it nullifies (voids) grace.
He begins to make his case in vs. “2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing” In summary, Christ alone is the hope of salvation. You add any form of works of the law, Christ will profit you nothing. This is because law cancels the grace we all desperately need.
Second case vs. “3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law” Here he states again that if you are seeking to be justified by the law, then you must keep them all in word, thought and deeds. Jesus told the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:21 that he needed to keep the law perfectly (if you want to be perfect) if he was destined to have eternal life by keeping the law. It was not long before he realized that he loved his money more than God. He had broken first, second and third commandment, but James lets us understand how it is impossible to keep the law, James 2:10, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all”. If you break even one, James says you have broken them all.
Having made his case on the first three verses, now we can understand this verse “For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace”, Galatians 5:4 NLT. This verse is not for the saved backsliding but those who would chose to be saved by mashing law and grace. In other words, if you add law as prerequisite to salvation, you are cut off from Christ. You cannot be saved because salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). If this is not how you view salvation, you have fallen from grace because this is the only grace that saves “…So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law”, Romans 3:28 NLT.
Again, any person who adds anything to Christ for salvation has fallen from grace. Let’s read what Peter says, Acts 15:8-11, “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
Are you counting on grace plus works to save you? If you do, you have fallen from grace and Christ will profit you nothing, He is the hope of everyone’s salvation. Therefore let the law show you that you have fallen from grace, repent of your sins and receive the grace of God through faith. The bible says Abraham believed God and it was counted for him for righteousness. Those considered sons of Abraham must come through the same door.
You may ask, is there a place for works? Yes, works validates faith but does not add to faith. This is not about faith plus works but faith at work or faith that works. Blessings Ev