What is the Difference Between Justification and Sanctification?

I just started a short series at my church on the doctrine of sanctification as we confess this doctrine based on God’s Word in Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 24. One of the first things I talked about this past Sunday is the importance of never confusing justification and sanctification. Both are distinct yet inseparable benefits of our union with Christ. I find Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 77 very helpful in how it highlights the difference between the two in a clear and cogent way yet also confesses that they are inseparable:

“What is the difference between justification and sanctification? Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in [justification], sin is pardoned; in [sanctification] it is subdued: [justification] doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; [sanctification] is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.”

For the sake of our own confidence and assurance in the Christian life, let’s keep these two great benefits of our union with Christ distinct yet inseparable!


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