Home > Content Index > Salvation > The Truths of Salvation > Justification vs Sanctification

Justification vs sanctification—what are the differences?


justification vs sanctification
Question: "Justification vs sanctification—what are the differences?"

Answer:
Justification, a term used in the Bible forensically/legally, is defined as “an act of God by which those who are unrighteous in themselves are nevertheless declared righteous before God while still in the sinning state.” Justification is a deliverance from the penalty of sin and is a past action for all believers, accomplished by Christ at the cross.

Paul summarizes the concept of justification: “So then as through one transgression [Adam’s sin] there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness [Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross] there resulted justification of life to all men” (Romans 5:18, NASB).

By contrast, sanctification is not the act of God declaring a person righteous; rather, it is the continual process by which God is actually making a person righteous. Sanctification is the deliverance from the power of sin and is a present and continuous process of believers becoming Christlike, accomplished by the Holy Spirit’s power and presence. Sanctification represents a believer’s victory over the flesh (Romans 7:24–25), the world (1 John 5:4), and the devil (James 4:7).

The ultimate end result of our sanctification is that we will be found in Christ’s image, as Paul describes in Romans 8:29–30: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (NASB).

In summary, justification happens when God declares a guilty sinner to be righteous; sanctification happens when God makes the believing sinner righteous. Justification is a one-time act; sanctification is a continual process. Justification releases us from the penalty of sin; sanctification releases us from the power of sin. Both justification and sanctification are aspects of our “eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9).

Recommended Resource: Making Sense of Salvation by Wayne Grudem

More insights from your Bible study - Get Started with Logos Bible Software for Free!

Related Topics:

What happens after death?

If I am saved and all of my sins are forgiven, why not continue to sin?

What is the way of salvation?

Will God continue to forgive you if you commit the same sin over and over again?

Do we need to confess our sins to those we have sinned against?

Return to:

Questions about Salvation



Justification vs sanctification—what are the differences?

Share this page on:

Find Out How to...






Navigation
Statement of Faith
The Gospel
Crucial Questions
Content Index
Top 20 Questions
International

Question of the Week

Preferred Bible Version:



Search


Subscribe to our Question of the Week

Get our Questions of the Week delivered right to your inbox!