3 Steps of Sanctification (John MacArthur)

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  • John MacArthur’s The Steps of Biblical Sanctification” (link)

He states that the process of sanctification involves 3 steps, namely:

1. Cognition
2. Conviction
3. Affection


On Cognition, MacArthur states:

God’s pattern for spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. . . . True sanctification begins with renewing your mind.   You must know the truth, plain and simple.   There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification .  .  .  Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind . .  .  any methods or patterns for spiritual growth that don’t start with the study of God’s truth cannot lead you to true sanctification.


On Conviction, MacArthur states:

As you grow in your understanding of the Bible, you begin to develop convictions out of that understanding. Those convictions or beliefs determine how you live, or at least how you endeavor to live.   As God’s truth takes over your mind, it produces principles that you do not desire to violate.   That’s sanctification—it’s the transformation of your heart and your will that compels you to obey God’s Word.

When you read the Bible, you’re not just trying to know it academically. You’re studying the Word of God to develop a set of convictions that rule your life, inform your conscience, and guide you toward greater Christlikeness.


On the third and final sanctification step, Affection, MacArthur states:

Throughout Scripture we see over and over that God’s people truly love His truth  . . . Loving God’s Word is an inescapable theme throughout the psalms, and it’s an attitude that will be reflected in the process of our sanctification.

If you’re truly growing spiritually, you don’t read the Bible as mere education. You don’t read it as a curiosity meant simply for intellectual stimulation. You don’t study it just to win an argument. You don’t approach it casually or carelessly, and you don’t flippantly disregard its truth.

If you’re truly growing, you come to Scripture eager for the spiritual nourishment it alone provides.

John MacArthur feels that Cognition begets Conviction, and Conviction begets Affection.   Christians who take all three steps can say that they are fully sanctified.


Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  1 Peter 2: 2-3 (NIV)


Greg Silverthorne, 66 Assurance Way


Photo credits: Pat McDonald/flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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One thought on “3 Steps of Sanctification (John MacArthur)

  1. These expositions are really refreshing and reassuring. God bless you richly for shedding so much light on the process of sanctification. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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