From Bondage to Freedom
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Galatians, chapter 5, verse 1.

Galatians 5:

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
10I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

We would like to call to your attention particularly the truth that is emphasized in verse 4.

Galatians 5:

4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Review

Keep in mind that for quite some time, we have been thinking about the matter of the security of the believer, and we showed you from the Word of God that our salvation is secure in the love of God. We don't need to be worrying about it and wondering about it. It is as secure as God's throne.

The security of the believer, if it is improperly taught, always causes an aversion in the hearts of some people because they are jealous for a holy life. They are jealous for clean living, and that is as it ought to be. I never criticize people if they are afraid of the doctrine of the security of the believer. I never criticize people who say, “Well, I think that is a dangerous thing to teach,” because I understand fully what they are talking about. It isn't that they don't want to be secure, and it isn't that they don't want everyone else to be secure, but they are afraid that what they have seen in the lives of many people is due to this doctrine. I always like to point out that careless living on the part of Christians, if it has any relation to the security of the believer at all, is not due to the doctrine, but due to a misunderstanding of it.

Those who are genuinely born again and secure in Christ certainly, as we pointed out to you from chapter 6 of the book of Romans, are not going to take advantage of the grace of God and say, “Shall we sin that grace may abound?” The Apostle Paul himself, you will remember, said, “Perish the thought. Don't even suggest such a thing.” People who are genuinely born again are not going to play fast and loose with the mercy of God.

We pointed out to you that, in view of the fact that people are secure in the love of God, there are a number of things in the lives of Christians that have to be explained. If a Christian cannot lose his salvation, what can he lose? He evidently loses something because many Christians are certainly not living in the fervor of their first love.

So what is it that Christians can lose if they cannot lose their salvation? We pointed out a number of things to you. We said that Christians can lose their reward, though they cannot lose their salvation. Christians can lose fellowship with God, though they cannot lose their salvation. Christians can lose their testimony, their place of service, though they cannot lose their salvation. All of those things are important.

Falling From Grace

I have asked you to turn to this passage of Scripture and have emphasized this particular verse because I believe that the Bible teaches that a Christian can fall from grace. “Now, ” you say, “wait just a minute. You said just a second ago that you believed in the security of the believer. Why do you say that you believe a Christian can fall from grace?” Well, I believe that a Christian can fall from grace in the sense that the Bible teaches it.

Most folk, when they talk about a Christian falling from grace, mean that that Christian can lose his salvation. We tried to show you from the Word of God that the Bible does not teach that. But the Bible does teach that a Christian can fall from grace. In those instances, if properly understood, a Christian who falls from grace does something exactly the opposite from losing his salvation. We are going to see how that can be.

Losing Hold On The Grace Of God

What do we mean when we say, “a Christian falls from grace?” Keep in mind the trend of thought that we have had that a Christian cannot lose his salvation. What can he lose? He can lose his relationship to the grace of God. There is nothing more tragic to my mind. There is nothing more pathetic than a Christian who has fallen from grace—a Christian who has lost his relationship to the grace of God.

Now what do we mean by that? Let's examine these Galatian believers because they are an illustration of folk who fell from grace. They are an illustration of folk who lost their relationship to the grace of God.

Notice the exhortation in the first verse of chapter 5 when the apostle says:

Galatians 5:

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Notice two words in that verse of Scripture—the word free and the word yoke . They are diametrically opposed one to the other. If we were to take the time to read the entire Galatian letter, we would find that there was a time when these people were under a yoke. It is called the yoke of bondage . The yoke of bondage is described by the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans, chapter 7. It is described more aptly, I believe, than by any other one person. Turn there, please, and see the testimony that the Apostle Paul gives concerning the yoke of bondage.

Bondage Of The Law

The yoke of bondage as it is described in Romans, chapter 7, can be a most unpleasant thing indeed. In the first verse of Romans, chapter 7, the Apostle Paul says:

Romans 7:

1Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) [He is talking to people who knew the law. The law here is a reference to the Ten Commandments] how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
2For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

Here he gives an illustration. He is going to make a point. The law binds a man as long as he is under the law. As he said, in everyday, ordinary living, a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, and the only thing that will free her from the law of her husband is the death of her husband. Then in verse 3, he says:

Romans 7:

3So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

What is Paul saying? He is saying that you were married to the law one time—the Ten Commandments. But the law died by virtue of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross. That is, He took the law, and He nailed it to the cross. When He did, He freed you from the law, and you had the opportunity of being married to someone else. To whom were you married? To the Lord Jesus Christ. So you left the relationship of the law and entered into a new relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that new relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ—still keeping the figure of the marriage before us—fruit was borne to God. The purpose of marriage is to bring children into the world. The purpose of your relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ is not to escape Hell and go to Heaven, though those two things certainly will be true. The purpose of your relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ is that other people might be born into the family of God, and that other people might come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Condemned By The Law

Now notice verse 5.

Romans 7:

5For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

That is, while we were married to the law, all of the lust and the desires of the flesh resulted in nothing but condemnation because the law said, “Thou shalt not.” We said, “We don't want to,” but we did. As a result, nothing but condemnation. Now in verse 6:

Romans 7:

6But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Do you realize what he is saying? While we were under the law, it was the oldness of the letter. While we were under the law, we were held in bondage. We had no liberty. We were afraid to move, and every time we did move, we broke the law. Every time we moved, we did not please God. Every time we moved, we did that which we knew we should not do. The law was a thing of bondage to us.

Immediately, someone is going to get excited and say, “Why, Paul, you are saying there is something wrong with the law. You are saying, for example, that God never should have given the Ten Commandments, that we would have been better off without them.”

Convicted Of Sin By The Law

And immediately Paul answers that question in verse 7. It is so important for us to notice this because sometimes, through careless statements, we can misunderstand the purpose of God.

Romans 7:

7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. …

Here is Paul's favorite phrase when someone is saying something that almost horrifies him: “God forbid. Perish the thought. Don't ever say there is anything wrong with the Ten Commandments. Don't even think a thing like that. There is nothing wrong with them. Don't ever say God should not have given them. Don't even think a thing like that. God forbid.” And now he said in the middle of verse 7:

Romans 7:

7…Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Did you notice what he is saying? “I thank God for the law.” That is what he is saying. “I thank God for the law because the law convicted me as a sinner. The law leveled its finger in accusation at me and said, ‘You are a sinner, Paul'.” And then he gives an illustration. “I had not known lust if the law had not said, 'Thou shalt not covet'.” Now wait just a minute. He did not say the law made him do it. He said the law made him conscious of it. Lust, if you examine the Scriptures, is part of the flesh, and you are going to lust whether the law says you should or not. You will lust. But when the commandments came, as the apostle says later, he became exceedingly conscious of the fact that he was a covetous man.

I am often asked, “Should we teach our children the Ten Commandments since this is the age of grace?” By all means teach the Ten Commandments. Your children are not born Christians. They are born sinners, and they need to be saved. They need to be conscious of the fact that they are sinners. The law of God, as we are going to see in this chapter, makes men conscious of the fact that they are sinners.

Don't say, “Oh, my children will learn that it is wrong to steal.” You tell them to begin with that God said, “Thou shalt not steal.” Then you let them know that if they steal, they are not only breaking your rules, they are breaking God's law. They are displeasing God, and they need to know the Savior.

In verse 8, he continues this discussion:

Romans 7:

8But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
9For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

Do you realize what he is saying? Look back here at verse 8. “Sin, because of the commandment…” The commandment made sin a glaring thing. “It wrought all manner of evil in me. I just found out I was full of sin, and I didn't know it until I examined my life in the glaring light of the law of God.”

He said in verse 9 something that many of us have said about our own lives, perhaps not in exactly this same way, but the experience is similar, when he said, “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”

You see what he is saying. “I felt pretty good until the law started to speak to my heart. I felt like I was a pretty good fellow. I was alive, but when the law came, I died. I found out that I was not such a good fellow after all.”

You know, many people absent themselves from the preaching of the Word of God in our day because the preaching of the Word of God makes them uncomfortable. As long as they do not have to listen to it, they don't feel too bad. But when they sit under the sound of the Word of God, they become convicted of many things in their lives that are not what they ought to be, and in the terms of our verse here, “Sin revived, and they died.”

Necessity Of Conviction Of Sins

Now verse 10:

Romans 7:

10And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

Isn't that a strange statement? What did he mean? He meant that when God gave the law, He said, “This do and thou shalt live.” “But instead of it bringing life to me,” Paul said, “it brought nothing but death.” Why? We are going to find out why in this next paragraph.

Romans 7:

11For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

Here he reemphasizes what we have been talking about. “The law that was meant for life was meant for death, for the commandment itself literally slew me, and I became exceeding sinful.” You realize today that the person who is living in sin is never going to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ until that sin becomes exceeding sinful to him. The person who is without the Lord Jesus Christ is not going to turn to the Lord until they are convicted of their need of Him. And I think that is something that most of us forget. We think all we need to do is walk up to a man and say, “Will you take Jesus as your Savior?” And he is supposed to say, “Yes, I'm glad to.” Well, he might say, “Man, what are you talking about? I don't need Jesus.”

Work Of The Holy Spirit In Convictions

But if we would use the Word of God and prayer, the Holy Spirit would be able to do His office work. And what is the office work of the Holy Spirit? Remember what He says in chapter 14 of the gospel of John—that the Holy Spirit is in the world to convict men of sin. What is that sin? That they believe not on Jesus Christ. That is sin.

There are a lot of folk who say, “So and so is not bad. Of course not. He isn't a Christian, but he's not very bad.” The Holy Spirit says it is a sin to fail to believe on Jesus Christ. You do not have to murder. You do not have to steal. You do not have to do anything. Just don't believe on Jesus, and that is a sin. But no one is going to realize that until the Holy Spirit convicts him of it. No one is going to realize it until the Holy Spirit convicts him.

That is the reason you won't be surprised if you witness to someone on the street, and he says, “Man, I am not the least bit interested.” Well, you need to be surprised if he is interested on your first mention because he is not going to be interested unless he is convicted of sin.

That is the reason, if I go off somewhere and hold a series of Bible conferences, I am not surprised if sinners are in the congregation, and they don't come to Christ the first time. Not at all. Why should they come? The Holy Spirit has to convict them of their need. Of course, many times when you have sinners in a congregation, and they have sat under faithful preaching by a pastor, they are already convicted. The visiting preacher goes in and draws the net. Of course, he gets all the credit for it because he happened to draw the net and they responded, but they can't come without conviction.

Man's Inability To Keep The Law

That is what Paul is saying here. Look again in verse 13:

Romans 7:

13Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

There is nothing wrong with the law, he says. The law convicted me of being a sinner.

Romans 7:

14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

He said, “The law can only be kept through someone who is more than the flesh, and I am the flesh.” That is what he is saying. “I am the flesh. And that is why it is impossible for me to keep the law.” In verse 15, he said:

Romans 7:

15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

Doesn't that sound like your state before you were saved, and perhaps like your state now if you have not learned to live in victory? The things you don't want to do, you do. The things you hate, you find yourself doing. And the things you want to do, you haven't enough strength to do. That is a miserable existence. “Well,” Paul says, “that is the way it was when I was under the law.” In verse 16:

Romans 7:

16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:[Listen, isn't this accurate?] for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

I want to do it, but I can't. Now there are exceptions, I suppose, to this, but I think if you talk to the average person, even though he is living in the deepest kind of sin, he will say something to you like this: “I want to do what's right. I want to do what's right, but I just can't. I just can't do it.” And he is exactly right.

Don't be so silly as to say to some individual who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ, “Why, a man can do anything he wants to do.” He can't do it. If he is unsaved, he is utterly helpless, and what he needs is the Savior.

Conclusion

The Apostle Paul said, “Before I knew the Lord and knew only the law, I was a miserable wreck. I was in bondage. But the Lord delivered me out of that bondage.” And so he writes to the Galatian Christians and says, “The Lord delivered you from that. Why do you want to go back into it?” And that is the foundation for the question that we began to discuss…that a Christian can fall from grace because the Bible says he can.


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