fall from grace

to lose favor or respect
—After winning an Academy Award, the actress fell from grace when she was arrested for shoplifting and drug use.

Paul writes that a person cannot please God by trying to obey all the Old Testament laws. Instead, he says that people must accept God’s grace, which provides a forgiveness that cannot be earned:

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all! And I testify again to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be declared righteous by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace [ye are fallen from grace]! For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight—the only thing that matters is faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6).

God had told Abraham that he and all his male descendants should be circumcised as a sign of their covenant with him. Thus circumcision came to represent the Jews’ obedience to the laws of the Old Testament. In his letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul tells the non-Jewish Christians that they do not need to be circumcised and that if they turn back to the Old Testament Law system, they will lose the grace of God revealed in the New Testament. Of course, this definition of grace is different from the one in the modern fall from grace, which refers not to God’s forgiveness but to the good opinions of others.

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