What is Justification & Sanctification?

The following is an essay that I wrote recently for my last year in Bible Institute. I pray that it serves as a blessing as it has been to my life. I have learned so much about these topics and I really enjoyed doing the research and I thought that it will be great to share what I have learned.


Sin goes against God and everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). This is the problem: We are all guilty and responsible for our sin and therefore we are condemned as the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  We are deserving of God’s wrath because of our godlessness. However, God fixes this dilemma by providing Jesus Christ as a sacrifice of atonement for our sins because He loves us.  Now this sacrifice of blood provides justification for all those who believe and sin is forgiven. Now that sin is forgiven everyone can stand right before God. Once we receive God’s justification through faith, we are forgiven and justified for our sin by the grace of God and then sanctification follows, which is both instantaneous and progressive. Instant sanctification occurs at the moment of salvation, when a believer receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior of their life. When the believer is instantly sanctified, they are now to be separated from life of sin to God.  As the believer develops in their walk with God, the process sanctification continues to be at work progressively through the Holy Spirit as the believer remains set apart from a life of sin and dedicated to God. Throughout this process the believer is being transformed to be more like Christ.

As per Meriam-Webster dictionary the term Justification is the state of being justified by God. Justification is the act of God which legally declares that God forgives the sinner of all their sins. In addition, God accepts and makes the sinner righteous in His sight. This happens, when the sinner puts their trust in Jesus Christ. Justification for the sinner by God is exclusively based on the submission and death of His Son, our ambassador, Jesus Christ.  Therefore, it is only the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ that satisfied the demands of God against sin which then makes it possible for God to declare the sinner righteous. In Romans 5:18, written by Apostle Paul, it states:

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Justification does not make the sinner righteous but when God looks at the sinner “in Christ”, he declares them righteous. Righteousness can only be obtained by faith in Jesus Christ and not by self-efforts as it says in the word in the book of Habakkuk “The righteous will live by faith.” When the sinner confesses their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, they are justified through faith alone not by any good works. There is nothing that the sinner can do to be justified; justification is only through what Jesus Christ did for the sinner on the cross. When His act on the cross was committed, his perfect righteousness was imputed to the sinner. The same way that the sin of the sinner was put upon Jesus Christ, so does His righteousness transferred to the sinner.  For this reason, when Paul addressed the Jews in the book of Romans, he made it clear to them that just because they followed the law did not mean that they stand righteous and justified before God. The Jews thought highly of themselves because they knew God’s word and were God’s special people. However, they were sinners just like the Gentiles and needed to put their trust in the Jesus Christ as the law was not sufficient to save them.  The basis in which righteousness is granted for the sinner is through the shed of the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. It was done only through the redemption process of His sacrifice.  The worth of this blood that was shed is the righteous element in which God willfully displays His grace to save the sinner.

Justification is then followed by sanctification. They complement each other in the way that they both deal with sin.  However, they have major differences that are very essential to know. For example, justification deals with the person’s guilt for sinning and sanctification address the control and manipulation of sin in the sinner’s life. Justification is the declaration of God that a sinner is made righteous and sanctification is the process in which God renews and transforms the person as a whole.  The sinner is now united to Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection and through the Holy Spirit; the sinner is now dead to the reign of sin and alive to righteousness.   The believer has chosen to die with Christ and now is obliged to put sin to death and present their members to God as instruments for righteousness (Romans 6:13).   Another difference between justification and sanctification is that justification is a finished and complete act on behalf of God himself.  This means that a believer that puts their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ has now been completely freed from the wrath of God and the condemnation that was the consequence of sin. On the other hand, sanctification continues to be a progressive work in the believer’s life. Even though sin is defeated and as believer’s we are free from it, we are not perfect. For this reason, the process of sanctification allows for God to make the changes in the believer’s life that need to be made in order to have a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Sanctification means “to be set apart for God” and be made holy through conforming to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  This process of sanctification is how God changes a sinner so that His purpose can be completed in Christ. God’s people are to be set apart for his purposes. As it says in 2 Timothy 2:20-21:

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Sanctification involves the word of God to dwell inside of the believer to make this change possible. However, it is a struggle as the flesh is of sinful nature and at times it serves as a weapon that can hinder the growth of the believer in God. For this reason, we have to submit daily to God; it is only through His power that we can overcome sin. We are unable to live a holy life on our own.

Sanctification is a lifelong process for the believer that leads to spiritual maturity.  The process of sanctification is like the process of metamorphosis in which the fictional creatures “Pokémon” go through.  Humans known as Pokémon Trainers catch and train Pokémon to battle one another as a hobby. Through their experiences, Pokémon grow and mature and turn into stronger Pokémon. Like the Pokémon, the believer is being trained. The trainer for the believer is the Spirit of God. The believer must yield to the Spirit of God as it says “Live by the Spirit and you won’t satisfy the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). As the believer embarks in this journey of sanctification, it is a process that involves having a divine partnership with God in order to live a life in obedience to Christ. For this reason, it is important to renew the mind with consistency and experiences through the word of God as behavior is influenced by the mind. This is the only way that the believer will transform, grow, display maturity and become stronger like the Pokémon. As believers we must be consistent in not allowing sin to have control and instead offering ourselves to Christ in obedience because He who began a good work in us will surely finish it (Philippians 1:6).

Justification and sanctification are terms that involve how God deals with the sin in our lives. Sin separates and deprives us from having a relationship with God and leads to death. But through the amazing occurrences of justification and sanctification we see how great the grace, love and mercy of God is for all creation. First, God justifies and forgives us by making us righteous before Him through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. This act is complete and fulfilled only through the shedding of Christ’s blood. When we accept this sacrifice through faith and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, God does not see a worthless condemned sinner anymore but a righteous man or woman.  This made the way for God to separate us from sin so that we are no longer slaves of its control. He sanctifies and separates us for His own as we are indwelt with Holy Spirit. We can now go before Him in confidence and build a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. God then continues the work in us through the ongoing aspect of sanctification which will leads us to be being transformed into who he created us to be.  We must also do our part in completely surrendering our life to God and yielding to what He wants to do in our individual lives.


Thank you Lord for the sacrifice you made on the cross. Thank you for taking my place and shedding your blood so that I can be justified. Thank you God for setting me a apart and drawing me closer to you. Thank you for your Holy Spirit.  I pray that as I go through this process of sanctification that you continue to guide me and help me surrender to your will as I become more like you. My desire is to be a clean vessel for your glory and honor. I declare that sin may have no part with me. I declare all chains of the enemy broken in the mighty name of Jesus and that your Holy Spirit may flow freely in my life in Jesus name!! Amen!!