What is sanctification?

Many Christians refer to a progression of justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification refers to the fact that believers have been deemed legally righteous. With Christ's death and resurrection, our sin was forgiven and we are now pure before God (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:1; Romans 6). While we know that our salvation is complete, there are still aspects of our salvation that are being worked out. We are righteous, and we are also becoming righteous. This "becoming righteous" is referred to as sanctification. Sanctification is where our present realities fall in line with our eternal status.

In one sense, the Christian life is all about sanctification. Christ is finishing the good work that He began in us (Philippians 1:6). We are continually learning to follow God's ways and discard our sinful natures (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5-17). Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called" (Ephesians 4:1). We have been declared holy and now attempt to live holy lives (Matthew 5:48). As Christians, we are to cooperate with God's work in us. He refines and prunes us (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2; Isaiah 48:10; 1 Peter 1:7; John 15:2), and sanctification is one name for that work.

Glorification is our eternal state. The legal reality of our justification and the physical reality of our sanctification now match up. In glorification we are with Christ and made completely perfect (1 John 3:2; Colossians 1:27; Colossians 3:4).

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