The ultimate goal is to make it to Heaven, so it is good to know the steps to get there, and to know which step you are on.
The Bible says simply that we are “born in sin, and shapen in iniquity.” In short, we are born sinners. It comes out when we enter our adolescent years, and each person exhibits it in different ways, but until we seek God’s help, we are stuck in sin. This is the area of addictions, abuses, lying and deceit, pride, hatred, envy, etc.
Sin is not just something that affects a few bad people who do really bad things, it is the basic state of all men and women until they are changed by God’s works of grace.
Sin is a problem because it is rebellion against God’s original design for us; He hates sin, and refuses to accept us into His good graces until it is dealt with.
Conviction is a feeling of deep grief and anguish that occurs when a person realizes that they are a sinner and that they stand in danger of the angry judgment of God if they do not change their ways. Conviction comes with knowledge and is affected by the Holy Spirit.
Conviction always produces action in the person who is feeling it, either action to run away from the source of information that produced the conviction (hastily leaving church, turning off the radio, etc), or action to run towards God who can relieve the burden of conviction.
Conversion (also appropriately called Forgiveness of Sins) is the First Work of Grace. It is called a “Work of Grace” because it is God doing something to someone that they cannot do for themselves. When a person recognizes that they are a sinner (Conviction), and they pray to God for Him to forgive them of their sins, and at the same time promise Him that they will not do those sins again, God forgives them.
We ask for forgiveness, and God gives it. It really is that simple.
Sanctification is the Second Work of Grace. It is different from the First Work of Grace; Conversion cleans the heart and conscience from sins that a person commits, while Sanctification removes the root of the problem that caused the sins to occur in the first place. This root is the carnal nature, and everyone is born with it. Only Sanctification can remove and destroy the carnal nature.
Sanctification occurs when a Converted person fully commits their current and future self to the will of God, and He honors this commitment by sending His Holy Spirit to live inside their soul.
Once a person is Sanctified, the next step is to simply do what God says to do through the Holy Bible and through the spiritual guidance of the Holy Spirit that now lives inside them. The Bible says :”As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.”
A Sanctified believer has a heart without the carnal nature, and can live life without sinning anymore.