What are justification and sanctification? Two words that are commonly used by Christians but what do they mean, how are they different, and how do they apply to your life as a believer?

What Are Justification and Sanctification; The Differences Between the Two

You may have heard the terms justification and sanctification if you’ve been a believer for any length of time. Then you may have looked them up on Merriam-Webster. Even still, you may have sat back and wondered how exactly they apply to your life specifically. Today we’re taking a look at these two aspects of a Christian’s life.

Justification and Sanctification are different but similar. And both are equally important to a believer.


justification -noun
the act or an instance of justifying something VINDICATION

1b: an acceptable reason for doing something something that justifies an act or way of behaving

2: the act, process, or state of being justified by God : justify:to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation


The act of baptism is this spectacular illustration of our old life being buried, sins washed away, and rising up to a new life in Christ.

If only everything in our lives were different the moment we emerge from the water. Fact of the matter is, we still have a lot of the same problems when we finish up. The same bad habits, annoying people, and ways of thinking. The situations that didn’t get resolved yesterday – yep, they’re still there waiting for you. Things are not instantly perfect after baptism.

But even baptism is an illustration. God calls us to be baptized as a step of obedience after belief. It’s making public your decision to live for Christ. Justification – the state of being treated righteous by God – that happens even before baptism.

Justification is what happens when you get saved. You have chosen to believe that Christ was born as human, lived a blameless life, was crucified, died, and buried for our sins, and raised to life again. That. Is. Awesome! You are eternally justified once you make the decision to believe. When you stand in front of God to account for your life on Earth, God sees you THROUGH Christ’s sacrifice. Christ is there to pay the price of your sins for you. They are forgiven – scratched off of your record. Justified.

You know you’ll live forever in heaven after life here on Earth is over.


sanctification -noun
an act of sanctifying

2a: the state of being sanctified

2b: the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion

sanctify -verb
to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use CONSECRATE

2: to free from sin PURIFY

3a: to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to

3b: to give moral or social sanction to

4: to make productive of holiness or piety


I included the definition of sanctify above as well as sanctification. Why? Because I love the verb! The word as action. Especially #3a “to impart sacredness”. In my own words, to be made holy. Made holy?! I’m in the process of being made holy?! That, my friend, is a friggin’ AHHmazing miracle!!!

So let’s dig in a little further. Sanctification happens for the rest of your life. From here on out God will be working in your heart and life through the Holy Spirit. Cheat someone and get that sick feeling in your stomach. That’s the Holy Spirit convicting you, turning you from your sin. You repent and next time you could cheat someone for your own benefit, you don’t. Sanctification.

My favorite definition has to be #2b though. The state of “growing“. The Bible compares Christians to babies. We start as infants when we believe. New in life, not quite sure how things work. Just as a baby learns to roll, then sit, then crawl, and eventually walk, run and jump – a new christian needs to learn and grow in the word of God. We’ve got to go through “school” so to speak and allow God to educate us with His love, grace, mercy, and word. But we don’t ever graduate.

I’ll say that again. We don’t.ever.graduate. What a burden lifted! You don’t have to worry about being perfect! Ever feel like you’re just not good enough? Like you’re way under qualified to even be considered? Yeah. Me too. And that my friend? That’s the amazing gift of God’s grace. You don’t have to qualify. He has justified you and He’s going to sanctify you – for the glory of His amazing name. He’s pretty awesome like that.

Not sure where to start? In the Bible. In fact I’ve made these scripture cards for myself to help when something happens during my day and I need a reminder of what God’s word says. I’d love to share them with you.

It’s Time to Party

If you haven’t jumped out of your seat, clenched your eyes shut, and stretched both arms towards heaven yet…what’s stopping you?! Even if you’re at work reading this around others. Head to the bathroom, sit in the stall, and marvel all goofy grinned at the justification and sanctification in your life.

Both are important. Both are miracles. Celebrate the fact that you are judged as righteous by God because Christ paid the price for you! Say thank you every single morning for the grace that God gives throughout the day, teaching and molding you. changing and shaping you.

Justification is God looking at you and seeing Jesus. Sanctification is God continually molding you to be Christ-like. Justification is instantaneous the moment you believe in Christ. The most important moment of your life! Sanctification is the lifelong process of growing holy. The most important journey you’ll ever go on!

Whether you were baptized last week or have been a believer for years – congratulations!! Happy dance for you!

Radically, crazily excited for (both) you (& me),

Lauren Monsey founder of Truly Devoted to Him

To get to know me better, read about me & my saved love.

justification & sanctification are beautiful aspects of a believer's life. learn more about what they are, the differences between the two churchy terms, and what they mean for your life!

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