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Justification and Sanctification Compared

This subject is one of great importance, though I fear it will not seem so to all my readers. Too many are apt to look at nothing but the surface of things in religion. They regard distinctions in theology as questions which are of little real value.

But I warn all who are in earnest about their souls, that the discomfort which arises from not distinguishing things that differ in Christian doctrine is very great indeed. I especially advise them, if they love peace, to seek clear views about the matter before us.

Justification and sanctification are two distinct things we must always remember. Yet there are points in which they agree and points in which they differ. Let us try to find out what they are. First, we consider the ways in which they are alike.

  1. Both proceed originally from the free grace of God. It is of His gift alone that believers are justified or sanctified at all.
  2. Both are part of that great work of salvation which Christ, in the eternal covenant, has undertaken on behalf of His people. Christ is the fountain of life, from which pardon and holiness both flow. The root of each is Christ.
  3. Both are to be found in the same persons. Those who are justified are always sanctified, and those who are sanctified are always justified. God has joined them together, and they cannot be put asunder.
  4. Both begin at the same time. The moment a person begins to be a justified person; he also begins to be a sanctified person. He may not feel it, but it is a fact.
  5. Both are alike necessary to salvation. No one ever reached heaven without a renewed heart as well as forgiveness, without the Spirit's grace as well as the blood of Christ, without being fit for eternal glory as well as a title to it.

Next time, we will consider the ways in which justification and sanctification are different.

~ J. C. Ryle