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New City Catechism - Question 32
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Posted by Chris Mazak


New City Catechism - Question 32


Q32:  What do justification and sanctification mean?


Answer:  Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.


Children’s Answer:  Justification means our declared righteousness before God. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness.


Memory Verse:

Romans 5:1 - “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Additional Scripture to read:

Ephesians 2:1-3, Romans 10:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 4:22-24


Life Application:

              Justification describes how we are saved, while sanctification is the result of our being saved. Prior to knowing Christ as our Savior, every person was an enemy of God, dead in sin and facing the wrath of God because of our disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 5:10a). But all who trust in Christ and his atoning work on the cross will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).    


            Justification is granted to us the moment we repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ. At this moment, God credits Christ’s perfect righteousness to us and we are declared righteous in God’s eyes (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of our justification, God no longer sees us as the sinner we are, but sees us as perfect and unblemished because He now sees Christ through us (Galatians 2:20). We cannot justify ourselves. We cannot achieve our justification through any number of good works. Jesus did the work for us; we are simply the recipients of this amazing gift by grace through faith (Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Through Christ’s life and finished work on the cross, we may now experience peace with God.  


            Sanctification differs from justification, but is inseparable from it. Once we have been declared righteous and set apart from our former life of slavery to sin, God then begins transforming our daily living through progressive sanctification. This is the life-long process by which we grow in increasing holiness and Christ-likeness (Romans 8:29). This process occurs gradually in our walk with Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and is a daily battle against the lures of sin and temptation in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must seek to put off the old person and the sin we once loved, renew our minds through God’s Word, and put on the new self, seeking to live lives of holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).


            We all must examine our own hearts to see whether this process is occurring in our own lives. There is no separating them: all who are justified will be sanctified.  As Charles Spurgeon beautifully states, “If He gives you the grace to make you believe, he will give you the grace to live a holy life afterward.” (Sermon, “Justification by Grace”). So the question must be asked, has this occurred in your own life?  


Connection to Cornerstone's Statement of Faith

We believe that man was created in the image of God, but fell into sin, and is therefore lost, and that only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained.  (Gen. 1:26272:7223:1-6Rom. 3:9-12,235:12,186:23;  Jn. 3:35-7)


We believe that Jesus Christ is true God and true Man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of  the Virgin Mary.  He who knew no sin died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures.  Further, He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into Heaven, where at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He now is our High Priest and Advocate.  (Is. 7:14Mt. 1:18-25;  Lk. 1:26-36;  Col. 2:9;  1 Jn. 5:20;  Mk. 10:45;  Heb. 2:9;  Lk. 24:23-40;  1 Cor. 15;  Acts 1:1-111 Pet. 3:221 Jn. 2:2Heb. 4:167:25)


We believe that the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe, and only such as receive Jesus by faith are born of the Holy Spirit, become children of God, and are saved for eternity.  (Heb. 9:22;  Mt. 26:281 Pet. 1:18,19Rom. 3:2425Rom. 5:1,  918Jn. 1:123:16Eph. 2:8,9)


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