Galatians 5:4. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
The language here is strong, and is meant to be a big wake up call. We ARE free. Now we must be what we are. When we seek justification by the law, we fail to live up to what we are. So much so, that Paul calls it severed from Christ and fallen away from grace.
Way back in Galatians 1:4 Paul told us that we are living in the present evil age. We are living in the “already but not yet” of our salvation. We are already fully justified, and not yet fully justified. Fully righteous (same word) and not yet fully righteous. It is within this context of the “already but not yet” that we should read Galatians 5:4.
Often Christians think that they obtained their freedom on the day they got saved and then they never have to think about it again. “OK I’m free now so let me get on with my life.” But here’s the thing- WE NEED JESUS TO SAVE US EVERY DAY.
Psalm 68:19. Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.
Please, I beg you, never lose the humble dependency that brought you to Christ in the first place. You still need a Savior. Not just an example. Not just a bunch of “Christian principles.” Not just the 10 Commandments. Not just behavior modification.
So here’s the great paradox of our salvation: Yes we are always free in Christ (5:1a), but we must resist returning to slavery (5:1b-4). Yes, we are always resting in Christ, but we must also always be striving until Christ is formed in us and others (4:19). We are no longer slaves, and yet we need to be freed from the slavery of law keeping every single minute of every single day. We are saved, and we still need a Savior.
And, stay with me here, we have to let Jesus be our example of living life from full dependency (faith) – rather than living life by trying to live up to Jesus’ example (works).
“To live is Christ” in “this present evil age” means that we need a Savior each day. We never stop needing Jesus to be our Savior. We never outgrow the gospel. We never get over our dependency and neediness for Christ’s union. And we never move beyond our need for freedom.