One of my favorite authors is J C Ryle, an English pastor from the nineteenth century, and perhaps his best book is entitled Holiness. In his chapter on sanctification, Ryle comes to the point in his treatise where he presents how sanctification and justification differ. This is a masterpiece of writing and is typical of the direct style of Ryle. Here are his points:
- 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.
- 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 by our own faith. The righteousness we have by our sanctification is our own righteousness, imparted, inherent and wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, but mingled with much infirmity and imperfection.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Justification gives us our title for heaven and boldness to enter in. Sanctification gives us our qualification for heaven and prepares us to enjoy it when we dwell there.
- Justification is the act of God about us, and is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us, and cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.
Many obstacles in discipleship and evangelism can be avoided by understanding how these two theological concepts differ. We would all do well to make sure we were clear on these truths. SDG rmb 10/10/2016