Catechism Insight – Doctrinal Standard WSC #35

Doctrinal Standard #35

  • Q. What is sanctification?
  • A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace by which our whole person is made new in the image of God, and we are made more and more able to become dead to sin and alive to righteousness.

Memory Verses

  • “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1–2, ESV).


  • Study Passage: Romans 7-8
  • Support Passages: I Thessalonians 5:23, II Thessalonians 2:13, Romans 6, I Corinthians 6, Philippians 3:1-16, Romans 12:1-2, I Peter 1:13-21
  • Bible Story: Genesis 12-25:11


  • “Sanctification is the continuing work of God in the life of the believer, making him or her actually holy. By ‘holy’ here is meant ‘bearing an actual likeness to God.’ Sanctification is a process by which one’s moral condition is brought into conformity with one’s legal status before God. It is a continuation of what was begun in regeneration, when a newness of life was conferred upon and instilled within the believer. In particular, sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s applying to the life of the believer the work done by Jesus Christ” (pg. 980). [1]
  • While justification and sanctification are connected it is important to understand the distinction between the two. Justification is what saves an individual from their sins and allows them to be accepted before God. This is made possible through the righteous life and death of Jesus Christ (see lesson #48-49). Justification is applied to an individual through faith and by faith alone. While sanctification does not save an individual sanctification is the response to the justification in the life of a believer. Sanctification is the “progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and more like Christ in our actual lives” (pg. 1259).
  • Romans chapter seven and eight is an interesting passage of scripture that explains the connection between God’s Law, justification, and sanctification. In chapter seven, Paul explains that God’s Law is good and it is the measure by which man must perfectly live by in order to be accepted by God. Paul goes on to explain that it is impossible for man to live up to this expectation. In fact, the more Paul understands the Law, the more he realizes how much sin is in his life. Paul teaches that’s it’s the imputed righteousness and forgiveness in Christ blood that takes the place of man’s efforts to keep the Law and be accepted before God (justification). Does this mean that the Law is done away with? Paul says no! While there is no way man can keep the Law to be accepted before God, with the Spirits help we are called to live pure and holy lives which the Law points towards (sanctification).

Discussion Questions

  • Explain in your own words sanctification.
  • How does sanctification differ from justification?
  • What is the measure of sanctification?
  • Is sanctification an option for believers? Explain
  • How does God play a part of sanctification?
  • Does the sanctification process ever stop for a believer?

[1] Erickson, Millard J. (1998). Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; Baker Books.

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