Both of these terms are very important in a believer’s vocabulary. That being said, we should all have a clear understanding of what they mean and how they impact our lives.
Justification is the act of God taking someone, as a sinful person and making them righteous by imputing or placing the righteousness of Jesus Christ upon them. This happens the moment someone puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and believes that He is the Son of God, that He died for their sins, was buried, and rose again. Justification refers to a believer’s status before God. God, as the righteous judge completely forgives a believer and declares them righteous. Psalm 103:12 tells us that when God forgave us, He removed our transgressions from us, as far as the east is from the west.
This is a one-and-done occurrence for a believer. Once a person is saved, they don‘t have a need for more justification as he/she lives out their lives. We cannot and there is no need to add to our justification. Once justified, always and fully justified!
As we live out our lives, we should pursue God and become more like Christ. This is an ongoing process known as sanctification. This process begins the moment we are saved and will continue in our lives until we meet Jesus face to face. The goal of sanctification is to diminish our desire for sin and grow in holiness. It requires a change in our life and a renewal of our heart and mind. These are all action words! We can’t expect any change from our sinful nature by being spiritually passive. This sanctification process requires input and work from the Holy Spirit, spiritual growth in the knowledge of God through His Word, and fellowship with other believers. All three of these are vital to our spiritual growth and sanctification process.
If we have truly been justified and we recognize the significance of that, it should be our desire and response to want to be sanctified. It can be difficult, especially if we try to do it in our own strength and without any help. But we must understand that this is God’s desire for us and we have everything at our disposal to be obedient to His calling. Don’t let anything distract us or cause us to give up when we fail. And don’t feel guilty, you’ve been forgiven. Cling to that promise and hope!
1 Thessalonians 4:3 tells us that our sanctification is God’s will for us.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 also says, But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
Here are some practical ways to help us stay focused on God, and true to His calling.
- 1. Make it a habit to study God’s Word, the Bible, the truth.
- 2. Pray! Pray! And then pray some more!
- 3. Get connected with other brothers and sisters in Christ for fellowship, encouragement, and accountability. Small groups are a good way to do this.
God didn’t just save us from sin. He is saving us for a life of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness and self-control. Does this list sound familiar? These are the fruit of the Spirit; the things that are available to us when we seek out God and holiness.