There are many theological terms with which we laymen should be familiar. They have to do with important spiritual truths that vitally affect us as Christians. But because some of them seem long and somewhat vague, we tend to think of them as being of secondary importance. However, every Christian should know and be able to explain the basis and meaning of his faith.
One of the words often misunderstood is “sanctification.” We are in a sense repelled by it, because we hear people called “sanctimonious” and the connotation is bad. No one likes the idea of making a show of religion. Hypocrisy and false pride are denoted when we use the term “sanctimonious,” and we want none of it.
But sanctification is a very different matter. Sanctification is growth in Christian graces, in likeness to the Saviour, and in power to overcome sin in one’s life. Just as a child grows physically and intellectually until he becomes a well-developed adult, so the Christian should grow after he is born by the Spirit of God.
The words “justification” and “regeneration” have to do with that supernatural act whereby the Spirit of God moves upon our hearts and we turn to him for forgiveness and cleansing. Justification is what God does for us. Regeneration is that which occurs in us when we are justified: we are born again, we become new persons in Christ.
But what about the years that follow? Should a Christian remain, spiritually speaking, an infant? True, the entrance into the Kingdom of God requires a humility of spirit like that of a little child. Our Lord said, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17). But being a child in faith and failing to develop spiritual maturity are very ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more