The distinctions between justification and sanctification may be characterized as follows. Justification is a legal act in which God the Judge absolves the believer from the guilt of sin and reckons to him the righteousness of Christ. It is therefore a matter of his status in the eyes of God's Law. But sanctification concerns a Christan's present subjective experience in this world. In sanctification his life is being changed to bring it into conformity to the will of the Lawgiver. In the one he is declared judicially righteous in Christ; in the other he is being made Christlike in character. In justification God imputes righteousness; in sanctification He imparts it. Justification is God's act done once and for all at conversion, while sanctification is a progressive work from conversion to glorification. Justification is therefore the same in all Christians, whereas sanctification varies in degrees from Christian to Christian. Justification is objective because of what Christ has done for man, while sanctification is subjective and consists of what He now does in him. In the first, the Christian is given the right or tittle to Heaven; in the second, he is being made fit in his person for Heaven. In justification his filthiness is covered; in sanctification that filthiness is being purged. The one restores him to God's favor; the other is restoring him to God's image. Hallelujah!!!
These things are so united in the saving work of God that no true believer can stop at forgiveness and regard sanctification as a further step which is optional. It is totally foreign to Scripture to suggest that one can receive Christ as Savior from hell, but not as the Lord who saves from sin. The Bible knows nothing of those who are 'Christians' but not yet 'disciples'; of 'believers' who are 'carnal' but not yet 'spiritual'; of those who are 'justified' but not yet 'sanctified'. On the contrary, Scripture is full of warnings about those who make extravagant claims to fellowship with God but whose moral makeup remains unchanged. They may have great charismatic gifts and engage in remarkable acts of philanthropy, yet still remain spiritually dead and strangers to grace. (1 Cor. 13:1-3) Those with true saving faith live as Christ lived. Those who persevere in a sinful life merely proclaim thereby that they are not Christians at all." No Holiness, No Heaven! by Richard Alderson