The old words describing the paradigm for salvation are Justification–>Sanctification–>Glorification.
Let’s give a quick nutshell of these words (as I understand them) and then rename them, updating them just a bit:
Justification–This is that point of realization that you are free of the separation from God that is caused by sin. I think of this as your awakening. The word regeneration is appealing to me, as it is more descriptive than “justification.” There is a regeneration of the heart, which I see as a change in your desires. This shows how it is both sudden and progressive at the same time. You now want God, but still possess many habits which lead you away from Him. There is a new awakening as a result of calling out to God, surrendering yourself to Him, realizing you can’t live this life well on your own, and at the same time, realizing Someone wholly other wants to live life through you. (I agree more and more with author Richard Rohr who says this comes as a result of either great suffering and/or great love.) And you see that the only way to live is through the power of the wholly Other. As a result, you are given new desires–desire for God above all else. You see that God is all there really is and you just want Him. But it is usually not immediate that all the things that get in the way of God fall away. That happens over time through the next phase.
Sanctification–This is that lifelong process of shedding all that is not purely God in our lives. As a result of the regenerated heart, you begin crucifying whatever gets in the way of being one with God. This is the process of thesis which we talked about a couple weeks ago. The word used for this process today is usually transformation. This is us going from caterpillar to butterfly throughout this lifetime. It is largely the self-discipline of filling yourself more and more with God and letting go of what is not of God. And it can only really happen as a result of regeneration. Here is where we sometimes get out of order-wanting, expecting, demanding transformation of ourselves and others, without first going through regeneration. I just don’t see this out of order process happening. Here is where AA really gets it right. They know you cannot kill your addiction without first coming to a place of total surrender-desire above all else to be free. Once you reach that place, and only then, will you then do what it takes over time to eliminate all that is in your way of being free from enslavement to alcohol.
Glorification–This is our future perfection in Christ, when we no longer see Him through a dark glass, but we will see Him face to face for who He really is. If we want to keep with our naming scheme, we could coin the term perfectification. Oooh, I like that! What makes me nervous about perfectification though, is the thought of finding out all the things I was wrong about in my thinking of Jesus and others. We will see clearly, and it might be a little daunting! “Oh, you mean you didn’t want me to tell everybody how to live their life? My bad.”
Yes, I think I’ve made plenty of mistakes urging transformation before pointing toward and praying for regeneration.
This kind of stuff can sound a little heady at times, but I see it as incredibly practical. I hope it makes sense in your heart as you ponder it this day.