A Comparison between Justification and Sanctification


Justification Sanctification

Declares a person righteous (Ro. 3:28; Gal. 2:16). Legal status


Makes a person righteous. Moral condition
Imputes Christ’s righteousness to the sinner’s account (Ro. 4:11b) Imparts righteous to the sinner personally and practically (Ro. 6:1-7; 8:11-14)

Restores God's favor

Restores God's image


Takes place outside of the sinner

(objective / external) and changes his standing or status (Ro. 5:1,2)


Is (internal / subjective) and changes the believer’s nature & character (Ro.6: 19)

Is a one-time event that is instantaneous (Luke 18:14)


Is progressive, but incomplete (until death)
Frees us from the guilt of sin (forgiveness) Frees us from the pollution of sin (holiness or practical righteousness)

Criminal pardoned

Patient healed




Justification is an act of God whereby He imputes to a believing sinner the full and perfect righteousness of Christ, forgiving the sinner of all unrighteousness, declaring him or her perfectly righteous in God’s sight, thus delivering the believer from all condemnation. It is a forensic reality that takes place in the court of God, and not in the heart of the sinner. It describes what God declares about a believer, not what He does to change a believerSanctification is the continuous process of the Holy Spirit in believers making them holy by conforming their character, affections, and behavior to the image of Christ.

Both justification and sanctification are necessary in God’s saving work in the believer. The two must be distinguished, but they are never separated. Both are essential elements of salvation.

  • Why are evangelicals careful to make a distinction between justification and sanctification? The distinction must be drawn in order to make clear that it is Christ’s righteousness imputed to us and not something in the "inward man" that makes us acceptable before God.



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