Beholding is becoming
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3.18
The moment we put our faith in Jesus, we are acceptable to God, who is pure and holy, because our sinfulness is eclipsed by Jesus' righteousness and his sacrifice on the cross is credited to our account. That is justification.
We then embark on a lifelong adventure of trust and obedience in which, depending on the Holy Spirit, we are conformed into to likeness of our Lord and Saviour though the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. And this is sanctification.
Two things are important to bear in mind: the process relies on God because our strength is limited and our wisdom is shallow and yet we are called to exercise and apply the gifts that God grants for our flourishing and the blessing of others.
The secret of our progress lies in keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus: he is the one who saved us and it is through him that we are being prepared for citizenship in the eternal kingdom - not merely as subjects but as brothers and sisters.