Salvation, justification, and sanctifications are confusing words to many. Just what do they mean, exactly?
Salvation is what happens the very moment we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is an instantaneous event that happens only once in the life of a believer.
We are saved from our sin, and from the curse of sin. It does not depend on anything we do: we cannot work for it or earn it in any way. It is a free gift, given to us
by God's grace; all we have to do is accept it.
Justification also happens instantly, at the moment of our salvation.And like salvation, it does not depend on our works. Nothing we could ever do would blot out
all our sin in God's eyes; if we could, then Jesus would not have had to die to pay for our sin. The word comes from a legal term, meaning that
we are made guiltless and righteous in God's sight at the same time we are saved, all our sin forgiven.
We are forever justified in His eyes, "just if I'd" never sinned at all!
Sanctification is different from salvation and justification. To be sanctified means to be set apart and made holy, just as Jesus is holy,
just as God is holy. When we are saved, we are set apart from the rest of the world for God's divine purpose. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit within
us that begins the moment we are saved, but rather than a once and done thing, it is a continual process that will last all our lives.
Through the ongoing process of sanctification, God makes us more and more like Jesus.
Sanctification is also different in that our actions can and do affect it. Even though we
are still set apart for God's purpose, our own actions can keep us from being transformed into the image of Jesus if we deliberately choose to act contrary to the will of God. We might be hanging
on to something that should not be in our lives, some "little" sin that we just won't give up. We may harbor that animosity toward someone who has hurt us. We may
give into a temptation of the moment, which becomes a habit, and if we don't repent of it, it can become a chain that binds us.
We so often makes excuses for these things,
or rationalize them to ourselves and others. And "rationalize" is a ration of lies. We tell ourselves lies like, "It doesn't really matter", or "It's just this one time",
or the worst lie of all, "God understands why I'm doing this". Any time we choose to go
our own way rather than God's way, we are impeding the on-going process of sanctification.
While our actions, good or bad, can never erase our salvation or our justification, they can certainly hinder our sanctification process. If we truly want to live
a Godly life, we have to let go of our own desires, repent of our sins, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, transforming us day by day into the image of Jesus Christ our Lord.