Difference Between Justification and Sanctification

This blog has been down for a while and I didn’t know it. I hope it’s fixed now.

I want to offer a quick quote now that it’s back up.

For at least the first decade that I was a Christian, I’m not sure if I could have told you the difference between the two, along with righteousness, or at least not explain it very well. Maybe this will be of help to some people.

Though justification and sanctification are not the same—yet God never pardons a sinner without sanctifying him. Justification and sanctification are not the same. Justification is without us, sanctification is within us. The one is by righteousness imputed, the other is by righteousness imparted. Justification is once and for all, sanctification is gradual. One person is sanctified more than another—but one cannot be more justified than another. One has more grace than another—but he is not more justified than another. The matter of our justification is perfect, namely, Christ’s righteousness; but our sanctification is imperfect, there are the spots of God’s children. Deut 32:5. Our graces are mixed, our duties are defiled.
–Thomas Watson, The Prayer of the Lord

There are those who like to use the word sanctification as ‘made holy’ when we are regenerated, and then use a different term for ongoing sanctification, like growing in Christ, or growing in our Christian life. The Puritans, like Watson, prefer the terminology in the quote, as do most of the other theologians I’ve read.

You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:11 HCSB

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 HCSB

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 HCSB

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