“Justification is not only a remission of sins but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man through the voluntary reception of grace so that an unjust man becomes just and from being an enemy becomes a friend. Then he will be an heir according to hope of life everlasting. The cause of this justification is the justice of God, which is that by which He makes us just. We are not only viewed as being just by God, but we are truly just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Spirit distributes to everyone a He wills and according to each one’s good works. This justice is received and increased by God depending upon our good works. These works are not merely fruit and sign of justification obtained but also the cause of its increase.”
_Anonymous source

The anonymous quote begins with an important statement. “Justification is not only a remission of sins but also the sanctification… of the inward man…” This sentence is important because it gives us a framework in which to place the rest of the quote. He or she seem to be advocating a Catholic perspective on justification—that is it not separate from sanctification but justification is in itself a process and is sanctification. We must clarify the terms justification and sanctification. Protestant and Catholic theologians use the same terminology but mean something completely different when they use it.

Justification in a protestant mindset is the initial assurance of Salvation granted from God. From a protestant perspective an individual is instantaneously and judicially justified by the acceptance of Christ— a term which is often left very undefined—and/or the confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. Justification comes only through faith in Jesus Christ and not by any human action. The Protestant reformers drew on Saint Augustine’s Theology that “humanity is justified as an act of grace: even human good works are the result of God working within fallen human nature. Everything leading up to Salvation is the free and unmerited gift of God, given out of love for sinners.”[1] The sinner, namely all of humanity, has little to no influence upon his or her own salvation. People, therefore, are left out of or simply do not fit into the soteriological equation. God alone initiates Justification. Sanctification, therefore, doesn’t influence justification directly. Sanctification is influence by justification insofar as it is the living-out of the already established justification of an individual. There is a point at which one can be certain of their salvation because it comes from God and failure in sanctification has no effect on justification. An individual in the reformer’s view “could rest assured of one’s salvation.”[2] Therefore sanctification and justification in a protestant mindset are completely different terms.

Although a separation must be distinguished some protestant theologians have argued that justification and sanctification are not to be separated. John Calvin saw them as “two sides of the same coin,” woven together in a cause and effect relationship while remaining exclusive from one another in definition and nature.[3] “Calvin asserts that both justification and regeneration are the result of the believer’s union with Christ through faith.”[4] Justification is instantaneous but undeniably transformative in that sanctification happens to all justified people as a cause of their justification. Everywhere that there is justification there is sanctification as a natural cause. People are still left out of the soteriological equation because of God’s Sovereignty of choice. God initiates any and all justification and sanctification. Therefore both are completely from God alone. Justification will be lived out through sanctification simply because a good person does good works. The good works do not effect the justification—one who is justified has justification regardless of weather they do good works but they will indeed do good works if they are truly justified. The reality of justification in God’s eyes will naturally become reality to people—“on earth as it is in heaven.”[5] The reality of justification precedes the living-out of it, which is sanctification, but the absence of sanctification is a sign of the absence of justification.

For Catholics the terms are much more interdependent even than Calvin’s view. For Catholics and for our anonymous source there is no justification without sanctification. “Works are not just the fruit and sign of justification obtained but also the cause of its increase.” Sanctification doesn’t just happen because of one’s already being justified rather; it actually merits one’s justification. There is no point where an individual can say that they are forever justified because they are always being justified through their sanctification. Justification is a human act insofar as it is the “voluntary reception of grace.” Thus humans play a proactive role in the soteriological equation. God’s grace comes to us through our reception of it and thus through out action and work in receiving it. Justice in this view is not just reality in the eyes of God but also in the human reality. Man cannot be just to God without acting out justice in life—without actually being just. “We are not only viewed as being just to God, but we are truly just, receiving justice within u, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Spirit distributes to everyone as He wills and according to each one’s good works.” Therefore, according to our anonymous source, Man’s justification comes from God but only through Man’s waling in accordance with righteousness. According to this view the individual is justified through the living-out of justification—the works of his or her faith. Our anonymous source advocates a Catholic view where justification is not judicial but a process. God’s grace depends on our good works. “Justice is received and increased by God depending upon our good works.”

[1] McGrath Christian Theology (Malden: Blackwell Publishers 2001) 448.
[2] Ibid, 462.
[3] Dr. Okholm, class lecture January 17, 2007.
[4] McGrath, 459.
[5] Matthew 6.10