Yesterday’s post featured an extended discussion of the doctrine of justification. In today’s post I would like to briefly address the topic of sanctification. Below is a theological definition, a defense from Scripture and a distinguishing from justification.

1. Defined:

In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem defines sanctification as: “A progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” This definition includes the idea that sanctification is synergistic “work of God and man”. In summary: Sanctification begins at regeneration, increases throughout life, and ends at death.
2. Defended:
Here are a few of many potential verses of Scripture that emphasize the doctrine of sanctification. The first two express God’s desire to “purify” and “make . . . perfect” those for whom Christ died. The third text emphasizes the necessity of our work in our sanctification, while at the same time not failing to insist upon the work of God in our work.

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:14

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

3. Distinguished (from justification):
Sometimes sanctification can be most clearly understood in contradistinction to justification. Below are some of the most striking contrasts between these two doctrines. It should be noted that all whom God justifies, He also begins the work of sanctification in them. Therefore, while these two must be distinguished, they can never be completely separated from one another.

Legal standing
Once for all time
Entirely God’s work
Perfect in this life
The same in all Christians


Internal condition
Continuous throughout life
We cooperate
Not perfect in this life
Greater in some than in others


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