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Justification and Sanctification Distinguished

Last week we saw how justification and sanctification agree. Today we will see how they differ.

  1. Justification is the reckoning of a man to be righteous on the merit of Jesus Christ. Sanctification is the actual making a man inwardly righteous, though it may be in a feeble degree.
  2. The righteousness we have by our justification is not our own, but the everlasting perfect righteousness of Christ, imputed to us by faith. The righteousness we have by sanctification is our own righteousness, imparted by the Holy Spirit, but mingled with much imperfection.
  3. In justification our own works have no place at all, and simple faith in Christ is the one thing needful. In sanctification our own works are of vast importance and God bids us fight, watch, pray, strive, take pains, and labor.
  4. Justification is a finished work. A man is perfectly justified the moment he believes. Sanctification is an imperfect work and will not be perfected until we reach heaven.
  5. Justification cannot increase. A man is as much justified the hour he first comes to Christ as he will be to all eternity. Sanctification is a progressive work, which grows as long as a man lives.
  6. Justification refers to our standing in God’s sight, and our deliverance from guilt. Sanctification has special reference to our natures, and the moral renewal of our hearts.
  7. Justification gives us our title to heaven and boldness to enter in. Sanctification gives us our fitness for heaven and prepares us to enjoy it when we dwell there.
  8. Justification is the act of God about us, and is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us, and cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.

It cannot be too strongly stated that they are two separate things. They cannot be divided, but never should the distinction between them to be forgotten.

~ J. C. Ryle