Let me say a word about this matter of sanctification. There is a difference between justification and sanctification. These are two words from the Bible, my friend, that you ought to cozy up to and get acquainted with... Now let me put it like this: justification is an act; sanctification is a work. Justification took place the moment you trusted Christ--you were declared righteous; the guilt was removed. Then God began a work in you that will continue throughout your life. I believe in instantaneous salvation, but sanctification is a lifelong process. In other words, justification is the means; sanctification is the end. Justification is for us; sanctification is in us. Justification declares the sinner righteous; sanctification makes the sinner righteous. Justification removes the guilt and penalty of sin; sanctification removes the growth and power of sin. (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Romans 1-8, 103)
Sometimes justification has been defined as "just as if I'd never sinned." But that is only half the story. It is not just that our slate is clean, wonderful though that is. It is also that God looks at us as if we have lived lives of perfect obedience. He sees us as being loving, submissive, pure. He sees us as having done everything Christ has done. (Erwin Lutzer, How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity With God, 57)
From J.C. Ryle's Holiness
1. Justification is the reckoning and counting a man to be righteous for the sake of another, even Jesus Christ the Lord.
Sanctification is the actual making a man inwardly righteous, though it may be in a very feeble degree.
2. The righteousness we have by our justification is not our own — but the everlasting perfect righteousness of our great Mediator Christ, imputed to us, and made our own by faith.
The righteousness we have by sanctification is our own righteousness, imparted, inherent and wrought in us by the Holy Spirit — but mingled with much infirmity and imperfection.
3. In justification our own works have no place at all, and simple faith in Christ is the one thing needful.
In sanctification our own works are of vast importance, and God bids us fight and watch and pray and strive and take pains and labor.
4. Justification is a finished and complete work, and a man is perfectly justified the moment he believes.
Sanctification is an imperfect work, comparatively, and will never be perfected until we reach Heaven.
5. Justification admits of no growth or increase: a man is as much justified the hour he first comes to Christ by faith — as he will be to all eternity.
Sanctification is eminently a progressive work and admits of continual growth and enlargement so long as a man lives.
6. Justification has special reference to our persons, our standing in God's sight, and our deliverance from guilt.
Sanctification has special reference to our natures and the moral renewal of our hearts.
7. Justification gives us our title to Heaven and boldness to enter in.
Sanctification gives us our fitness for Heaven and prepares us to enjoy it when we dwell there.
8. Justification is the act of God for us and is not easily discerned by others.
Sanctification is the work of God within us and cannot be hidden in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.
I commend these distinctions to the attention of all my readers, and I ask them to ponder them well. I am persuaded that one great cause of the darkness and uncomfortable feelings of many well-meaning people in the matter of religion, is their habit of confounding, and not distinguishing, justification and sanctification.
It can never be too strongly impressed on our minds, that they are two separate things. Yet, they cannot be separated, and everyone that is a partaker of either — is a partaker of both. But never, never ought they to be confounded, and never ought the distinction between them to be forgotten.© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible