Justification and Sanctification

I first remember trying to learn about the difference between justification and sanctification during a New Testament class at BYU.  We talked about it a lot, but I never seemed to be quite able to internalize what the difference was (including when it was asked as a test question).  I’ve still tossed the words around as they’ve been used in a couple of talks and books since then, but today in Sacrament Meeting I finally understood what they mean.  Maybe I’m finally listening.

The speaker today obviously knew her stuff.  Toward the beginning of her talk she was looking for a definition of justification in her notes.  She looked for a few seconds, then, deciding she wasn’t going to find it by looking, defined it on the fly.

It more or less ran like this: Justification is when your sins have been forgiven and you are, in that moment, without sin.  But it doesn’t mean you haven’t sinned, and it doesn’t mean you won’t sin again.  It simply means that, in that moment, you are without sin.  Sanctification is deeper: it is becoming the kind of person who doesn’t want to sin.  It means that, once justified, you will never sin again.  Both are gradual processes; both require the Atonement of Christ in order to happen.  And I guess I have plenty of work to do toward both!

So, anyway, the talks in church today were really good.  I would have thanked the speakers in person, but I was in Primary and they weren’t.  Oh, well.


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