Distinguishing Justification and Sanctification

“And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”

— Ezekiel 36:26

The term “salvation” in Scripture is a broad term that includes within its compass all of the acts and processes of God whereby we are saved. Initially, these include justification and regeneration. We are quickened by God, brought to life, which is regeneration, and we are granted faith and repentance on the basis of which we are then justified. These are both acts of God and they are instantaneous.

Then, however, there is the process of sanctification, which is a long process that is never completed in this life. Our sanctification takes place slowly. It has its ups and downs. There may be great spurts. There may be times of great backsliding, but this process continues on as God continues to sanctify us.

When we are in Christ and growing in Him, we are being sanctified by God, the Spirit. God is working in our hearts to cleanse us and to separate us from sin. The interesting thing about sanctification is that the more you have of it, the less you are aware of it. It is like a man who is both filthy dirty and totally blind having two operations performed on him at once. He is slowly and progressively being cleansed and slowly and progressively being given his eyesight, so with his increased acuity of vision, he is able to see more and more sin or dirt as it were on himself than he was able to see before.

Justification is a one-time act, but Scripturally speaking, sanctification is more of a process.

Lord, You who sanctifies me, give me strength for today to grow in holiness. As I do, forgive me for my sin, which I see more clearly. Let this process ever go forward in my life, until You bring me safely home and then glorify me…