“Justification” is an adjustment of a man’s legal status in the sight of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). A person is considered saved from all past sins when he asks and accepts God’s forgiveness by faith. This is an instant experience. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28).
Sanctification or Transformation
But God is not concerned merely with forgiving past sins. He is chiefly concerned with man’s transformation. The work of restoration to God’s image is called “Sanctification” which takes place when a person is -being saved- from the power of sin as he surrenders daily to God and walks in obedience to His word. This is a life time process. Paul wrote, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Sanctification takes place when a person holds on Christ daily (by study of the Word and prayer) and cooperates with God’s power (1 Timothy 4:5). The Christian allows the Lord to do His will in his life. The only way this process stops is when a believer cuts himself off deliberately from the Lord.
The final process in the life of a believer is called “glorification” which occurs when a person -shall be saved- from the presence of sin when Christ comes again. “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:1).
Thus, one can properly speak of salvation in three tenses – past, present, and future. He can say, “I have been saved” when he gives his life to the Lord (Justification), “I am being saved” as he is walking daily with the Lord (Sanctification); and “I shall be saved” when he reaches the promised land (Glorification).
In His service,