Q32: What Do Justification and Sanctification Mean?

New City Catechism: Question 32

Christians practice catechesis to instruct believers on the foundational truths of the Christian faith. In a question and answer format, this form of discipleship teaches the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, along with the basics of the Bible. The New City Catechism, created by Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, asks 52 questions, one for each week of the year, on topics such as God, creation, and salvation. Each video provides an extended answer to the question from either a pastor at Redeemer or council members of the Gospel Coalition. This video with John Piper, the Founder and Teacher of desiringGod.org, answers the question, "What do justification and sanctification mean?”

1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)


1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

We can respond to question thirty-two with the following 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.

John said justification is a legal standing before God where we now bear the righteousness of Christ. Sanctification is the process where God works in believers to make them Christlike. What stands out to you the most about this answer? Why?
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The evidence of our justification works out through our sanctification. Since Jesus gives us right standing before God, God can now transform us to make us more holy.

Does the answer to this question impact your Christian walk? If so, how and why?
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Read through 1 Peter 1:1–2. Take a moment to reflect on justification and sanctification. Use the space below to respond. You can write out a prayer, list the implications of justification and sanctification, or brainstorm ways you can apply the principle to your life.
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The Catechism can help you remember the core beliefs of Christianity. Take time this week to learn the answer to this question and memorize 1 Peter 1:1–2. Allow God to transform your heart, mind, and actions through sanctification.

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