Justification, Sanctification, and Conversion

I received the following question: “What are the main and general differences between justification, conversion, and sanctification?”

Sanctification may not always be such an upward slope.  I believe we will have dips in our walk with the Lord.
Sanctification may not always be such an upward slope. I believe we will have dips in our walk with the Lord.

Justification is being declared holy.
Sanctification is being made holy.

When we are declared holy it doesn’t mean that we actually are holy.  In god’s sight, through faith in Christ and his saving work, we are seen to be holy even though we still sin!  This is justification.

Justification is instaneous.  The moment a person has faith in Christ is the exact moment they are saved – seen to be holy in God’s sight.

At the exact same moment a person is justified he is converted.  He has gone from life to death, from a child of Satan to a child of God.  Just as justification is instantaneous, conversion is instaneous.

Through the life of the believer, he grows in holiness.  He becomes more like Christ.  Sin lessens and good works abound.  However, in this life, we will never become perfect. We will always still have sin.  So though we are becoming holy in sanctication, the process is never complete this side of heaven.

In summary:

Justification and conversion happen at the exact same moment and the effects are ongoing.
Justification and conversion are both instaneous.
Sanctiication is a process.

Published by

Andy Wrasman

I live in Lilburn, GA, with my wife and two young kids. I am a pastor at Oak Road Lutheran Church. I've written a book called, Contradict - They Can't All Be True. Be sure to visit my other website: https://www.contradictmovement.org.

4 thoughts on “Justification, Sanctification, and Conversion

  1. Great bumper sticker! Good explanation too but I think you’ve got a typo in the title – it says “conversion” twice.

  2. “Justification is being declared holy.
    Sanctification is being made holy.”

    Unfortunately, while this is a very popular idea, it’s not actually the way scripture puts it.

    According to multiple places in scripture we have been made holy. We have been sanctified. Holy and sanctified are the same thing.

    “Sanctification” has come to mean a process by which people are made holy.

    Holy has come to mean “better morally” or “cleansing from sin nature.” All of this is wrong.

    But let’s look at this claim: “When we are declared holy it doesn’t mean that we actually are holy.”

    Oh dear… now that’s not right at all. Not even sort of. Justification DOES mean that God has declared us holy. This is true. Set apart for His own purposes. Yep. But see, what God declares is also actually TRUE. He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t declare something that isn’t also correct and actual. He actually makes us holy, that is, He sanctifies us. This is justification. Our sanctification is in Christ. We are holy because He is holy, and we are in Him.

    This doesn’t mean we are morally perfect. It doesn’t mean that because that’s not what sanctified means. We have been washed in Christ. We have been baptized by the Spirit.

    Justified means made righteous. We are declared righteous because we have been made righteous.

    When God declares that someone IS righteous it is because He has MADE them so.

    The Greek δικαιόω/tsadaq takes on the sense not only of declaring someone to be pure or righteous, but of making them pure and righteous. Using the Greek Old Testament we read in Isaiah 53 for example that the servant “will make righteous (δικαιόω/tsadaq) many, for he bore their sin”.

    But to one who without works trusts him who makes the ungodly righteous/pure, such faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Ro 4:5).

    In Christ we have become the righteousness of God. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. He has made all things new.

    Peace n’ stuff.

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