Justification and Sanctification. What are they? How do we get them?
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 … 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no one violate the rights and take advantage of his brother or sister in the matter, because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you previously and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in sanctification.
Christians use the words justification and sanctification a lot. Sometimes we mix up the two and many of us aren’t quite sure how we acquire both.
First, let’s look at how Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines each.
Justification – the act of justifying.
- Justify – (transitive verb)
- to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable
- to show to have had a sufficient legal reason
- to qualify (oneself) as a surety (see SURETY sense 3) by taking oath to the ownership of sufficient property
- to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation
Sanctification – the act of sanctifying.
- Sanctify – (transitive verb)
- to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use : CONSECRATE
- to free from sin : PURIFY
- to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to
- to give moral or social sanction to
- to make productive of holiness or piety
So according to Webster, justification is the act of being judged worthy of salvation. In addition, Webster tells us that sanctification is the act of being set apart to a sacred purpose or religious use.
What makes us worthy of salvation? Is there anything we can do to earn salvation?
The Apostle Paul addressed his letter to the church at Ephesus to the saints who are at Ephesus. A saint is someone who has been saved and set apart. Later on in that same letter Paul explained to them how they had been justified.
Ephesians 2:8-9 … 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
It is God’s grace that makes us worthy of salvation. It not by any works that we can do.
This vitally important truth, is one of the very first that most of us come to understand when we are saved. Jesus died in our place so that we would not need to bear the punishment for all of the sins we have already committed, as well as all those we will commit in the future. And while most of us know this part, many of us struggle with the sanctification part.
Unlike justification, which requires no effort on our part, only faith, sanctification demands us to step up. Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th century preacher, in a sermon he titled “Justification by Grace”, said, “If He gives you the grace to make you believe, He will give you the grace to live a holy life afterward.” So God equips us with not only the grace to believe, but the grace to be sanctified.
This grace is essential in the sanctification process, but it is not the only piece of the puzzle. The other essential part of sanctification is our choosing to sin less, if not to be sinless. Everyone stumbles from time to time, but the evidence of our conversion is if these stumbles become the exception rather than the norm.
A.W. Tozer, in his book “The Attributes of God: Deeper into the Father’s Heart” wrote, “All things as they move toward God are beautiful, and they are ugly as they move away from Him.”
Philippians 2:12 … So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
We must ask ourselves, am I moving closer to God each day, or am I allowing sin to take me further away from God. It is by no means an easy thing for a person who has been living a life of sin, in a world that tells us sin is OK, to cut those sinful acts out completely. It is also something that will not happen overnight. And for some of us, the change will be harder than it is for others. So, while it is normal to compare our self to others, we should not expect that our sanctification will progress the same as anyone else’s.
Romans 12:2 … Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Renewing our minds is paramount for sanctification. If we do not remove those things that cause us to stumble from our minds, we will struggle with temptation more than we may be able to overcome. If we are to remove things from our thoughts, and renew our minds, we must replace those things with other thoughts.
Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible should be a daily routine. The more time we spend with God, the less time we will have to spend on those things that lead us down dangerous pathways. Some days we may not have a desire to pray, or read God’s Word. On those days, we need to set aside our feelings and seek God through prayer and study.
John 17:17 … Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
As we continually wash ourselves in God’s Word and fellowship with Him in prayer, we will feel the weight of our ungodly desires lighten more and more. Those things that used to drag us down into depression, will seem so much easier to resist, because we are leaning into God for His strength, rather than relying on our own. An added benefit, according to scripture, is that we will hone ourselves for use in serving the Kingdom.
2 Timothy 2:21 … Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
We, at Be Free in Christ, thank you for visiting our site. We pray that you will be blessed by this message, as well as the many resources we have made available to all of our visitors. We also pray that you will be strengthened in your walk with Jesus, and will experience daily renewal and sanctification. For those who may not know Jesus as Savior and Lord, we invite you to CLICK HERE to learn more about God’s plan for your salvation.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 … But we should always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
~~ a befreeinChrist writing ~~