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What is the difference between being justified and sanctified?

Justification is a legal declaration of being declared not guilty. As if a judge he put the gavel down and pronounced it out loud in a court of law. Paul who was once living by the law stated “And by Him (Christ) everyone who believes is justified from all things by which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39).

The believer is justified (legally declared right before a holy and righteous God) by his faith –Acts 13:39, 15:9, 26:18, Rom. 3:28, 3:30, 4:4, 5:1; Gal. 2:16,3:24 [every saint in the Old Testament was justified by faith Heb.11:4]. As soon as one believes they are justified. It is a single event that begins at salvation.

The New Testament unanimously speaks of justification by our believing in the work of God through Jesus Christ, in His crucifixion; His righteousness is given to those who exercise faith, not to those who work. Titus 3:6-7: “whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Faith is the initial act of obedience that puts one in right standing with God, receiving salvation. Our spiritual life starts at this point. 1 Cor. 6:11: “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” We are justified by believing the gospel without any work. God accepts us fully and completely by our exercising faith; by repenting, turning toward Him and relying on Him.

Rom. 4:23-25 we read, “Now it is not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification.”

Christ’s death is accepted for mans sin by God the Father. We are justified by His life given in our place. Nothing else can accomplish what Christ did and this why we are to have faith in Him alone. Gal. 2:16: “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

Biblically, our sanctification began when we were justified, past tense, and it’s all by faith. Justification is a legal declaration to be right before God; sanctification is a continuing work. We have been sanctified and we are still being sanctified until we are called home.

The Holy Spirit conveys Christ’s nature and qualities to the believer through the sanctification process. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). It is worked into the believer daily through trials by faith. We find sanctification and cleansing, (purifying) are attributed to Christ's blood, Heb. 9, 10:10; 1 Pet. 1:2; to the Holy Spirit, 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Cor. 5:11; and through the word Jn. 17:17.

 Paul tell us to co-operate in the power of the Spirit to control the flesh which is fallen. We separate ourselves from the world, sin and the temptations of the Devil and are being sanctified. This is where our spiritual warfare is found, to die to self and live in the Spirit.
Rom. 8:13:  “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Col. 3:5: Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
  This is because sin is still present in the world and with us
Rom. 7:24-25:  “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God-- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
We don't become perfect by sanctification but we do experience a noticeable change that continues through our life; it conforms us to Christ’s likeness (moral likeness). Jesus said in Jn. 6:63: “My words are spirit and they are life.” Eph. 5:26 the church is sanctified and cleansed by the word. That He might sanctify and cleanse her (the Church) with the washing of the water by the word.” the Church is consecrated by the truth of the Word of God. We are sanctified, separated from the world and unto the Lord’s work (John 17:17).

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