There is a huge difference between justification and sanctification. Justification is salvation from eternal death, whereas sanctification is the process of holiness.
We were justified the moment we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. At that moment, our old self died and we became a brand-new created being, inwardly possessing the nature of Jesus. We were immediately justified in the eyes of God and all unrighteousness was eradicated from our spirit. We had nothing to do with this. We didn't earn it, nor did our "goodness" deserve it. It was freely given by God's grace.
However, the moment we were born again, the work of sanctification (holiness) began. This was when what was done on the inside of us, in our spirit, started working its way to the outside, into our behavior. Paul says it like this: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12, NKJV). What we must not forget is that sanctification (holiness) is also a gift of God's grace. But this time we have a part in the process and need to work in conjunction with it.
Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1, NKJV)
God's gift of grace supplies us with the power to cleanse ourselves! We cleanse ourselves from all filthiness inwardly and outwardly, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. So even though grace is a free gift, we have to cooperate with its empowerment to produce the fruit of holiness in our lives. Grace not only justified us but also now empowers us to serve God acceptably with holy fear.
Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (Hebrews 12:28, NKJV)
Marked by boldness and passion, John Bevere delivers uncompromising truth through his award-winning curriculum and best-selling books now available in over sixty languages. His newest book is Extraordinary: The Life You're Meant to Live. More information is available at www.ExtraordinaryOnline.org.