“Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:24, NLT).

What comes to mind when you read this verse? That you could never be righteous and holy like God? Or that you sure know a few people whom you wish were like this; or maybe you think you already are? When I was deep in legalism, I actually thought I was pretty close. I was obeying all the laws, at least I told myself I was. When you’re a legalist, you think you can make yourself righteous and holy.

We are told several times in the Bible to be holy, but we can’t manufacture it or become holy on our own, under our own power. Holiness, that mysterious “otherliness” of God, the part of his nature that, along with love, defines who he is, eludes us unless he makes us new creatures in Christ. The only righteousness and holiness we can have comes from who he is and as we yield our wills to his, in a lifelong process of growth and maturation. The beautiful thing is he made us in his image and wants to share his holiness with us.

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