Question 32: What do justification and sanctification mean?

QUESTION:  What do justification and sanctification mean?

ANSWER: Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us.  Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, make possible by the Spirit’s work in us.
Everyone longs to be validated and accepted. What are ways we go around looking for this kind of fulfillment? Have you found it? If so, how long does it last?

The kind of righteousness we all need and long for is found uniquely in Christ and given to anyone who trusts in him.  This righteousness, which is given once and for all based solely on what Christ has done for us, then starts a process in which we actually become more and more righteous. This process is called Sanctification.  Righteousness is given first, and then, secondly, we experience sanctification.
Hebrews 10:11-14
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
  • Do you think it is true that most people need righteousness? How have you sought to receive righteousness in your life? 
  • Most people have this idea that you have to measure up to some standard before you are accepted and/or welcomed into their group.  What are the standards you feel pressure to live up to? What happens if you don’t meet those standards? 

  • Christianity offers a totally different experience of righteousness than what can be found in other religious traditions and in modern secular culture.  It insists that God gives you FULL acceptance and righteousness as a gift, to be received by faith, apart from any performance on your part. How would your life change if you truly believed that? 
  • Once receiving this gift, Christianity also says that your life will begin a journey of slowly experiencing the reality of your righteousness through a day in and day out relationship with God.  How does this kind of life change different from a performance-based “life change”? 

This week pay attention to the various ways people in your life are looking for righteousness.  Notice if they are successful or not and how Jesus’ righteousness might impact their life.  Perhaps start praying for a conversion with them about this very topic!  

Our Savior and Lord, you have completed the work of justification. You have begun the work of our sanctification, and we trust that you will carry us through to its completion. Transform us day by day into your likeness, conforming us to your ways. Amen.