Justification – Sanctification – Glorification

By Ron Graham


“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:1-5. Abraham was justified by faith, he believed in God and that belief was counted (deemed by God) as righteousness (justification/salvation). Nothing else had to be done on Abraham’s behalf, by God or by Abraham, to be seen as righteous in God’s eyes. Abraham was justified by God, not by works.


But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:25. The English word “justification” is translated from the Greek word "dikaiōsis" which means: “The act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to him, abjuring to be righteous”. God “justifies” the believing sinner on the grounds of his/her belief in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. This is His free gift of eternal life imputed to all who believe. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Romans 5:1. Justification simply means that through His grace, God has eliminated the guilt we associate with sin. To become justified in God’s eyes is simple – believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. No, repentance and/or baptism cannot add anything to justification. Justification/salvation is freely and fully given by our God to the individual at the nanosecond he/she first believes. 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17. In our Bibles, the word “believe” simply means to have faith in what we believe in. In this case our faith is in Christ Jesus as our only propitiation for sin. The Lord Jesus paid the full payment for our redemption with His death on the cross. The word “just” used by Paul in the above verse is the same Greek word “dikaios” which I explained above and it still refers to those who are “justified/saved/born again” in God’s eyes. Remember, we’re talking about God’s eyes not human eyes.  

Christians become confused concerning justification (salvation) as they continually attempt to add the works of “sanctification” to God’s free and instantaneous gift of justification. The one follows the other, but they are entirely separate and distinct. When we are justified we are immediately sealed with God’s Holy Spirit “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14. There is nothing more for us to do to receive the Holy Spirit within us. It’s done by God at the moment we first believe. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee from God Himself that we shall inherit His Kingdom. 

Sanctification – only occurs after we are justified. This is God’s sole territory; His exclusive domain. God’s work in our lives, after justification, is referred to in our Bibles as sanctification. Believers go through all sorts of ups and downs and occasionally we might fall down some rather slippery slopes. But God is always there to lift us back up and give us His assurance that He will never leave us nor forsake us. This is the ongoing process of sanctification -- God initiated, God fulfilling. It’s His work in the lifelong struggles of every justified/saved individual. 


Many Christians are taught that once we are born again we will no longer sin. This is a huge and very deceptive fallacy. In the following verses the Apostle John is speaking to believers, and what he tells them should be an eye opener for all of us “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 & 10. We will be sinners until we die; justified/saved, yes, but still sinners. Now this is where sanctification comes in. We will begin to see our sins as God does and we will be more and more remorseful as the Holy Spirit convicts us of our failures. But this doesn’t mean we will stop sinning, only that it will become more painful because we know that with each sin we’ve once again grieved the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30. On those occasions, verse 9 from First John comes in so very handy. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.


What happens after justification only occurs in the lives of the children of God, because only the children of God are justified/saved. God takes control once we become His new creations in Christ. Our eternal security is God’s responsibility. His hand is what moves us from the very beginning of our new life in Christ through the process of changing us as He molds us into the exact representation of His only begotten Son, our Messiah Jesus. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son… Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified…” Romans 8:29, 30.


We actually progress in our walk with Christ, through God’s intervention in our lives, and that intervention process (sanctification) will not be finished while we walk the earth in these fallen vessels (our bodies). A fruitful life in Christ may not be evident in our opinion as we view the outward lifestyle of many professing Christians. Of course there are many instances when we can plainly see what God is doing in another believer’s life, but with some it’s not so obvious. We must remember that God is in control of the sanctification process, not us. Only God knows whether or not we’ve been truthful with Him in our declaration of faith in Christ; only He knows our motives as to whether we truly believe in Jesus Christ or if we were only going through some meaningless, ritualistic, man conceived motions.


Each new believer is unique. But each one of us should, at some point in our lives, come to realize the first step (justification) and the second step (sanctification) are distinctly separated events. The second step, sanctification, in which the Creator of the universe is in complete control, is not instantaneous in the majority of new believers. God doesn’t force anyone to become a child of His, but once we cross that threshold (justification) we’re His, there’s no turning back.


“…no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” 1 Corinthians 12:3. The Apostle Paul tells us that it’s only through the Holy Spirit that we are able even to confess such a belief. Each believer, newbie or lifelong saint, is in God’s fully capable hands. Not only is He responsible for keeping each one us secure (justified/saved), but He alone is responsible for our becoming who He wants us to be in Christ. It’s not me and you from our human perspective of another’s fruit laden or fruit barren life that tells God whether a person is truly a believer or not. When it comes to justification/salvation, God does not take into consideration our feelings or perceptions on the matter of another person’s salvation. Justification – done deal through our belief in Jesus Christ. Sanctification – ongoing ‘til the end.


Glorification “…and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Romans 8:30. This is the last part of this three part process. Glorification occurs at the moment a believer in Christ dies. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17. All God’s children are called joint heirs of the Kingdom of God – heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ. Glorification, being the final stage coming just after death, should be looked forward to with a high degree of anticipation. While we’re alive we go about our Fathers business, witnessing and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, living our lives as His children, but we are also eagerly but patiently anticipating our Savior’s imminent return.


There is a crown of righteousness tied to that anticipation. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8. This crown of righteousness is given to all who look with great anticipation for the soon arrival of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Sadly, many Christians will not receive this crown, they neither live with an anticipation of Christ’s return nor desire such, nor do they have any desire to leave this planet and its allure.


“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8. The instant we die we are in the presence of Almighty God. At some point just after that homecoming we will receive our glorified bodies. Just like Jesus after His resurrection, we too will have the ability to traverse all the different dimensions without hindrances. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2.


When we fully grasp this three part process, no longer is there any confusion between justification, and sanctification. They are mutually inclusive in the process that leads to glorification, but they are separated by God and time. Justification is instantaneous, predicated on our belief in Christ and nothing more. Those who wish to hamstring us with baptism being required as part of justification are just plain wrong. Trying to convince them otherwise, as I’ve recently found out, is a useless act in futility.


Please don’t misunderstand me, being baptized after justification is extremely important as our first act of obedience to our Father in Heaven. Sanctification is our becoming more and more obedient to God, and the first step of the obedience is baptism. It should be so important to each new believer that they participate in that act as soon after becoming born again as possible. At the very instant we say “yes” to Jesus Christ we are justified (born again/saved) for eternity. There are no works of the flesh (such as baptism) that can add to justification/salvation. At the point of justification we’ve become a child of God. Again, we are not God’s children until we become justified in His eyes. All it takes for that justification to occur is belief in Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. God’s own words tell of the simplicity of everlasting life. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved – but that’s just the beginning. 


God bless you all,


Ron Graham



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