Have you ever experienced one of those moments as a believer when you just felt like you should be better? Maybe you missed out on your quiet time . . . for the fourth time this week. Maybe you fell into the same old sin pattern again—and are beating yourself up about it. Maybe you’re worried about what God really thinks of you. Maybe you’re even questioning whether you are a true believer.
If you’ve ever wrestled with any of these thoughts, you are not alone. I would venture to say that most Christians struggle with these feelings from time to time—I know I certainly have. But because of the amazing gift of salvation God has given us in Jesus, we need not fear, for our faith is held secure in His mighty hands.
Yet what practical truths can we cling to in these moments? In this blog post, we will look at three theological terms—justification, sanctification, and glorification—that each describe a distinct part of the process of salvation. By understanding these terms, we can grow more confident in the certainty of our salvation—even when those discouraging thoughts do come.
Three Theological Truths That Remind You of the Hope You Have In Christ
Justification refers to a believer’s right standing with God that comes as a result of faith in Jesus. But what does this practically mean for us?
Because of our sin, we all stand guilty before our holy God; there is nothing we can do to fix this problem in our own strength. Only God can make us right. The Apostle Paul explains this in Romans 3:23 when he writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
But in the next verse, Paul reminds us that this is not where the believer’s story ends. He writes, “They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). This means that if we believe in Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross, we are justified—we are made righteous and declared “not guilty” by Him.
This is certainly good news—but what if we still find ourselves struggling to believe it? What if we still wonder how we can know whether we’re truly right with God? We can look to Jesus.
In Romans 10:9, Paul reminds us, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” So, if you continue to wrestle with these questions, ask yourself: Have I confessed and believed in Jesus—that His perfect life, death, and resurrection are enough to save me from sin? If so, you have been saved, and therefore justified.
However, it doesn’t take long after being justified to realize we’re still not perfect. We still sin and live in a fallen world. What hope do we have in these moments?
This is when we can remember the truth of sanctification, the lifelong process of growing more like Christ. This process begins on the day we are justified and won’t be complete until we reach eternity.
While this process can sometimes feel painfully slow, for those of us who have been justified, it is a process God promises to complete. Paul teaches us this truth in Philippians 1:6, writing, “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” And what has God “started” in us as believers? He has started the process of sanctification! While we certainly play a role and are responsible for our decisions, this is ultimately His work, and He will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 2:12–13, 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24).
As mentioned above, the process of sanctification will be complete one day. This will happen when we reach glorification—our final state as believers.
When Christ returns, we will be glorified. Sin will be erased forever, and believers will receive new, glorious bodies (Philippians 3:20–21). While justification frees us from the penalty of sin and sanctification frees us from the power of sin in our lives, glorification will remove us from the presence of sin forever.
In Romans 8:28–30, Paul walks us through this process—reminding us that justification naturally leads to glorification. For some of us, however, this can sound too good to be true. We may still fear we will mess up one too many times. We may worry we will get to the end of our lives only to find that we didn’t do enough for God and His kingdom. But we must remember no part of this process is the result of our work—not justification, sanctification, nor glorification. This is all the result of God’s work through Christ in us.
For those who have been justified by Christ and are being sanctified by Him, we can be confident that Jesus will indeed glorify us when He returns. This is our steadfast hope.
Putting the Pieces Together
With these three theological truths in mind, we can stop our striving and worrying and instead thank God for each aspect of our salvation. We can praise Him for making us righteous, continuing His work in us, and promising to one day fully restore us.
Though we may continue to wrestle with doubts and questions in this life, if we have been justified, we be sure of our present sanctification and our future glorification. Indeed, they are promises from God. And every promise He has made, He will keep.
Additional resources on being confident in your salvation:
The Theology Handbook
Worthy: Embracing Your Identity in Christ
Lexham Survey of Theology