Sanctification and Justification for Dummies, anyone?


I teach the adult class at my church here in Sour Lake (yes, the name of our town is Sour Lake, people). I notice that a lot of the people in these forums also teach their classes.

I’ve tried and tried to find (or compile myself) a good 30 minute presentation on the subject of Santification and Justification that is easy to understand, but not too deep. The problem is, I’ve been unable to find one. If I’m falling asleep half way through an article on this subject, how can I expect my audience to stay away?

I was wondering if any of you have put together something like this (or found a great article) that they’d be willing to share?




Mornin’ Notworthy,

I would try and develop a distillation of Jimmy Akin’s short book the Salvation Controversy. Another one that was helpful for me and work for this purpose is Sungenis’ How Can I Get To Heaven. Sungenis lays it out issue by issue and is very good, although he and Jimmy differ in their approach to Paul. Sungenis also wrote the more exhaustive version under the title of Not By Faith Alone.

To generate excitement about the subject I would put it in the overall context of salvation, which ought to get everyone’s attention. Maybe ask them: Are you saved? and let them squirm for a minute. Also talk about Luther and Protestant Reformation. Luther said that his idea of sola fide was one of the twin pillars of Protestantdom.

In my confirmation class I tried to come up with a concept that captures the whole salvation/justification/sanctification thing from a Catholic perspective. I started by asking the question about how “we git sayved.” The short answer is “become a member of the family of God.”

Hope this helps. I am unaware of any ready-made presentations precisely on this subject.




I’ve got Akin’s book, but I keep getting bogged down in it.

I’m thinking of starting with Original Sin. You know, Adam and Eve were created with it, but lost it in The Fall. Now we can’t inherit something from them that they haven’t got to give, so for us, Original Sin is basically being born without Grace.

Baptism washes away our sins, removing them from our souls, and infuses us with the Grace of God. We see this in David’s Psalms - “Lord, wash away my iniquities” and John the Baptists’ rantings - “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world”. This vs. our brethren saying Baptism covers our soul with a layer of Grace, which leaves a corrupt soul underneath this “blanket”.

When Jesus died, he allowed us to receive this grace in Baptism, but we are still to be stained by sins we accrue after baptism. We can have these sins blotted out (again, Scriptural reference) through Confession (mortal) and just asking (veniel).

Again, I wish to keep it simple, so the use of 5 syllable words like Sanctification will be left to a minimum.



I am still sorting through these issues myself, but here’s what I have come up with so far… The fall of mankind was a PROCESS, the redemption of mankind is a PROCESS and each individual’s redemption is a PROCESS also… There are some classic texts/whatever that illustrate the process of Justification and Sanctification… I am at work now and can’t take much time, but my favorite is the Justification of Abraham…

Check out…

Heb 11:8 (references Gen 12)
Rom 4:3 (references Gen 15:6)
Heb 11:17 & James 2:21 (reference Gen 22)

All of these verses reference the Justification of Abraham; thus, Justification must be a process… Side note, this is an excellant point to bring up since the typical Alter Call, which offers a “once and for all” Justification typically references Rom 4:3… How can this be a “once and for all” Justification when there are 3 pretty solid references for the Justification of Abraham???

Again, I am at work and cannot spend any more time on this. I have a good PDF file that gives the basics if you will PM me or EMail me, I will send it to you.


Good point. I can see where we need to continue to work out our Salvation or we can lose it. Some glaring examples are:


All of these could be example of being blessed by God, only to turn away and lose those blessings. Of course, Israel could be a great example of redemption, falling away, redemption, falling away, redemption, falling away, etc.



[quote=NotWorthy]I teach the adult class at my church…I’ve tried and tried to find (or compile myself) a good 30 minute presentation on the subject of Sanctification and Justification that is easy to understand, but not too deep…I was wondering if any of you have put together something like this (or found a great article) that they’d be willing to share?



Greetings…for what it’s worth I’ll share with you the outline of a presentation I’ve used with both teenagers and adults to demonstrate “Justification and Sanctification”:

Items needed:

  1. a gallon jug filled with clean water
  2. one large green bath towel
  3. two bigger drinking glasses (clear glass) and one smaller drinking glass (clear)
  4. a cup of dirt
  5. a white handkerchief
  6. an empty mixing bowl (like the one used for mixing a cake)
  7. a table onto which the above items may be displayed
  8. Optional: a blackboard (or dry eraser board) on an easel plus chalk (or dry markers) for drawing illustrations.

Place all of the above items below the table but within easy reach. You will be pulling them out one by one during your demonstration.

A: Creation

The gallon of water = God
The green towel = Creation (green earth :wink:

Explain to the class that God (symbolized by the jug of water) created the heavens and the earth (stretch green towel over table top).

In His “own image” (meaning “having intellect and will” but also “having dominion”) God created man and woman to enjoy all of creation and to act as stewards of it.

At this point - place on the green towel the two larger drinking glasses (Adam and Eve) and explain how the glasses represent the body (the glass itself) and its spiritual soul (the air in the glass).

A human person is composed of body and soul but Adam and Eve also had something more - something ADDED to their human nature, which ELEVATED human nature with special powers which allowed Adam and Eve to have communion with God and to have complete control over the appetites of the body: and that is Sanctifying Grace (Original Justice). This grace enabled Adam and Eve to order their lives according to “right reason”.

Water poured into each glass represent Adam and Eve with Original Grace. In this state, Adam and Eve enjoyed freedom from the appetites of the body interfering with right reason.

B: The Fall

But Adam and Eve disobeyed God - and note, that their disobedience was not out of a position of weakness but rather from a position of strength. They didn’t have the passions of the body (like we do now) interfering with their moral judgment and neither were they ignorant of the right thing to do. They truly and totally FREELY chose to disobey God. This is why their offense is so great and without excuse.

As a consequence, Adam and Eve lost that special gift which had elevated their human nature and freed it from unruly passions (at this point pour the water from each glass into the empty mixing bowl) and now they “felt naked”. The appetites of the body started making war against their intellect (right reason) and leading them to make choices which are not in accord with right reason (the passions of lust, gluttony, sloth, ect, clouded their ability to make right choices)

C: Original Sin

Adam and Eve are now deprived of Sanctifying Grace (the empty glasses)…human nature is now “fallen” (lacks Original Grace)…and Adam and Eve can only pass on to their children human nature as they now have it (bring out the smaller empty glass to represent the sons and daughters of Eve)…which is “a physical body and a spiritual soul” WITHOUT Sanctifying Grace…this condition of the human race is called: Original Sin. From the moment of our conception in our mother’s womb, we inherit this condition (which goes back to our first parents, Adam and Eve).

Without Sanctifying Grace we cannot have communion with God, we cannot live with Him in heaven. To illustrate this point you may want to make a drawing on the black board of a stick person standing on a rock looking across an ocean and state (choosing the name of someone in your audience): “Susie wants very much to live in the ocean.” Draw an arrow from the stick person (Susie) jumping into the ocean. “But what will happen to Susie?” (She’ll drown) “What does she need in order to live in the ocean?” (Air, a diving suit, or gills!)

See: Grace: What it is and what it does

This is how it is for us when we don’t have Sanctifying Grace. We want to live with God in heaven but our fallen human nature doesn’t have what it needs in order to do so.



D: Actual or Personal Sin

But Original Sin is not our only problem. As we grow up and learn right from wrong we become responsible for the things we chose that are wrong (personal sin) Take a pinch of dirt and drop it into the smaller empty glass so that now, not only do we lack the grace we need to live with God in heaven, we have become guilty of sin which deserves punishment.

E: Jesus saves us

By His perfect obedience to God, Jesus (as True Man) made reparation on behalf of mankind which, because Jesus is also God, is of INFINITE MERIT before God. Jesus won for all of mankind the graces necessary for our salvation.

a) Justification (the first step)

Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Baptism as the means by which the fault of Original Sin is removed and Sanctifying Grace is communicated to the human soul the small glass is filled with some water…and if we are baptized after the “age of reason” and have personal sins, they also are cleansed (flush the dirt out of the small glass into the mixing bowl).

We are now Justified before God (because of the Merits of Christ who Alone - as True God and True Man - bridges the infinite gap between mankind and God) so now we can have communion with God and inherit heaven.

b) Sanctification (the ongoing process)

Though we are now justified - and possess Sanctifying Grace - we notice that not every consequence of Adam and Eve’s Fall has been taken away…we still experience the war between our appetites and right reason…this God has allowed to remain as a means of testing the quality of our desire to live with Him (He desires that we chose Him because we love Him) and as a means of correcting human pride, schooling us in the virtue of humility. As a result, we still fall into personal sin (add a pinch of dirt to the glass now with water)…if the sin is venial, we do not kill the life of grace in our soul, but our souls do not shine (like clear water) before God…we need purification and this is accomplished by God’s grace working within our souls to choose right, avoid sin, and practice virtue and good works. If our sin is mortal then we loose our first justification. To restore it, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession, which we can receive when (by grace) we are moved to repent and confess our sins.

The other Sacraments - especially the Eucharist - are special means Jesus has given us (through the ministry of His Church) to be strengthened with grace to become more and more sanctified (holy).

With this set-up you can also illustrate the concept of Mary’s Immaculate Conception by showing how - in accord with Gabriel’s greeting to Mary - she was conceived “full of grace” (fill a glass to over-flowing) such that sin could find no home in Mary’s soul.

Hope this doesn’t seem too childish…it does have the advantage of being adaptable to the level of understanding among the audience and even the adults find it amusing.

Keep the Faith


Oh I forgot…the point of having the white handkerchief was to illustrate the difference between the Reformer’s concept of Justification and the Catholic concept:

at the point in the demonstration that the small empty glass has dirt in it (personal sin), Luther thought of Justification as a covering (place the handkerchief over the empty glass with dirt)…God see’s “the covering” (the merits of Christ) but the person remains unchanged (the glass is still empty and still dirty)…this is in contrast to Catholic teaching which holds that through the communication of the grace of Justification the “fallen human person” becomes “a new creation”, human nature is changed and elevated (symbolized by the filling with water and really “clean” before the eyes of God.

Keep the Faith


It might help to explain that although many Protestants and Evangelicals make a clear distinction between sanctification and justification, the Church (and the Bible) does not.

Tim Staples used to (maybe still does) explain justification as being made 'just if I’d never sinned’ - say those first 3 words fast and you’ll notice the play on words.
He also, and Scott Hahn to, describes it as ‘maturing as sons and daughters of God’.

We are initially justified at Baptism. We become children of God. As we grow up in the family of God through faith, trust, and obedience, we are sanctified (made holier - gradually transformed into the image of Christ). As we are sanctified, we are further ‘justified’ before God - our souls are made more acceptable before him. This is done both through our faith, and through our works (which is how we live our life). Therefore, justification and sanctification are related. Many evangelicals equate justification to salvation - when they accept Jesus they are justified (saved). Salvation is not a process to them. For some evangelicals sanctification is a process that follows justification. For others, it’s a one-time event following justification, or sometimes, at the same time as justification.

For Catholics, we tend to think of salvation as a process and we are ‘saved’ at the end of that process - when we are * fully justified and sanctified*. In other words, when we are in heaven. This may include purgatory, which is really just the final stage of sanctification (being made holy). When our souls are fully holy, we are fully justified.

This is how I’ve tried to condense everything I’ve read on the subject. Hopefully I haven’t encapsulated it in the wrong way in an effort to understand it succinctly.

Corrections from anyone are welceome!


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