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Legalism and Holiness


“Be ye holy; FOR I am holy”
1 Peter 1:6

True holiness is not something we attain by works; it is the result of His Life becoming ours. If we read this scripture through the lens of the Holy Spirit we will see the miraculous message of the New Covenant! Our growth in holiness will always be because of our relationship with Him.

“Be ye holy; FOR I am holy”. Our personal experience of holiness is the result of His holiness. His Spirit working, willing, and transforming us into His likeness is the revelation of grace. The reality of this is found in our surrender to His stirrings within and our response because we love Him who first loved us. We can become holy because HE is Holy!

The Two Legalisms

There are two expressions of legalism both of which are contrary and abhorrent to God’s heart.

One form is to seek holiness through the meager power of self. This form of legalism produces self-righteousness, pride, and arrogance that is both demeaning and contrary to the character and beauty of Christ.

The other form is far more deceitful and widespread. It rests in the legal declarations of righteousness and absolves itself of any accountability or personal response. It is a faith that is faithless. It is a faith in word only and its end is full of hypocrisy and complacency. It is the product of a faith without works. It is expressed as a religious belief in words while denying the power of the Life of Christ to make one authentic and true.

The New Covenant message is not about words; it is the Life of Jesus Christ working in me to save me from sin. It is the dynamic of His Life that saved me from drugs, alcohol, and violence. The impartation of faith into our being is what enables us to respond to the empowering life of Christ.

“…we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life
Romans 5:10

By His death, we are reconciled to God but it is by His Life we are saved! Failure to comprehend this vital truth is why so many live in spiritual poverty.

The Gospel Message is:
“Christ in you the hope of Glory”.

To seek to work my way into holiness is futile. To trust in words while disassociating myself from participation in His life results in spiritual death. Faith brings the evidence of Christ’s life into our own personal experience, not a mere belief but a life of growth and wonder.

These two faces of legalism are exposed by the verdict of God’s Word.

“And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him”
Hebrews 11:6

The faith by which we “now live in the flesh” is the evidence of Him working within to make us holy as He is holy. If there is no evidential reality there is no reality of faith.

“…and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”
Galatians 2:20

Brian Troxel



“Never look for other people to be holy; it is a cruel thing to do, it distorts your view of yourself and of others. Could anyone have had a sterner view of sin than Jesus had, and yet had anyone a more loving, tender patience with the worst of men than He had? The difference in the attitude is that Jesus Christ never expected men to be holy. All He asks of men is that they acknowledge they are not right; then He will do all the rest– “Blessed are the poor in spirit”
Oswald Chambers

Image by Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust


  • Stephen says:

    A good word to all who are struggling with divisiveness. Our Father in Heaven is in the business of reconciliation and His vessel IS Jesus Christ to bring it about.
    I have been struggling with apathy as of late and am ashamed of it.
    I am not where I’d like to be in my walk, but thank Jesus, I’m aware of it.
    Continued blessings to you and yours. Continued blessings to everything you put your hand to.
    It’s encouraging to know that in this time of mass psychosis affecting all peoples and beliefs, there are some who are focused on the Gospel and the things of the Kingdom.
    Sincerely appreciate it.

    • Brian Troxel says:

      It is a struggle common to all who love Him. The great sign of life is our ability to recognize it… those who fall into its deceptive sleep are no longer aware of its great danger.

      Appreciate your comment and may we hold one another up in this hour.

  • Tim says:

    Great word for us all today, Brian. Thank you. Your two examples of legalism capture the two strategies of our enemy to keep those who know about Christ from knowing Him intimately and practically every day. Sound wisdom in this. May our God bless you in your walk with Him and in His work in you.

  • Pat Zender says:

    I am so grateful that God brought me to your site. I was involved with a beautiful and loving Christian man and it ended because he wanted me to wear dresses everywhere in public to show my holiness. I know deep in my heart my that God loves me just the way I am and I don’t have to do anything that is religion and not a relationship. I have a deep intimate relationship with HIM and have had for over 20 years. My relationship with HIM is a heart issue and I never had to earn it. Yeshua Jesus paid that price for me and HE loves me just the way I am

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