Jesus surveyed the crowd before Him, noting how eager the people were to hear Him speak. Possibly, candidates for His kingdom, He thought. But there were other faces, Pharisees and Saducees, the leaders of the Hebrew nation, that were not drawn out to seek His wisdom. Rather, they listened intently to hear Jesus speak words they could twist to condemn Him. Later, when He was alone with His disciples, Jesus said. "[B]ware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Saducees" (Matt. 16:6).
The disciples' reaction to Jesus' statement illustrates an important element of the way they listened to Jesus. They thought He meant to chide them for not bring enough bread with them. Instead of bewaring of the influence of the leaders, they thought He meant literal bread, because He said the word "leaven." Leaven meant bread to their minds; therefore, Jesus followed up with a reminder of the four thousand and the five thousand they had fed at one time with the simple exercise of faith. He didn't mean bread. They had enough bread, since Jesus could create it out of a few small loaves and fishes. He meant beware of the leaven, the influence, of the leaders. They misunderstood. They thought He spoke of literal bread. They misunderstood much of what Jesus tried to teach them, because they were steeped in the ancient traditions of their fathers. All they could see in the future was Jesus sitting on a Roman throne. Throughout His teachings, they listened with tradition running in the background.
A short while later He asked them, "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" This conversation allowed Him to speak openly about what the future held for Him--and for them. He said, "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver him unto the Gentiles: and they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again" (Mark 10:13, 14). "And they [the disciples] kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean (Mark 9:10). Again, they misunderstood. They tried to attach a symbolic meaning to something that we know was clearly literal.
I find it interesting that what they thought was literal was symbolic, and what they thought symbolic was literal.
We do that today. We misunderstand what the word of God is trying to tell us. In His day Jesus spoke of putting old wine into new bottles. How important to understand that new truth belongs in a new bottles, new settings, while that which is old settles down to become the carpeting, the backdrop of our lives. Use the new settings for new wine, forgetting the traditions of the fathers.
Here is a parable that the disciples didn't understand and that we misunderstand, even today. It was the Thursday evening before Passover Sabbath. They had just eaten the Passover meal and could see that Jesus' bearing was burdened, not what they were used to seeing in Him. Just before stepping in to the Garden of Gethsemane He said something totally out of character for Him and the diametric opposite of anything they expected Him to say. He said, "When I sent you without purse, and script, and shoes, lacked ye anything? . . . But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword., let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end" (Luke 22:36, 37).
The disciples realized that these words signified a change in Christ's behavior and in His relationship with the world. Perhaps now He would appear in His true character and make their lives less painful.
My Definition: A "sanctificationist" is one who believes that righteousness can be achieved through hosting the presence of the Holy Spirit, representing Christ, within the self. How much sin did Jesus commit when He walked this earth? None. Since Christ overcame sin in our own human flesh, sanctificationists believe He brings that victory with Him when He comes in through the Spirit to abide in them. He imputes righteousness at the same moment when He imparts it. Thus He--not the human host— is expressed in their every word and action, revealing the Christ within.
There is more than one way to look at obedience. The minds of many automatically default to legalism when the subject of obedience to the law is raised, making talking about this subject problematic beyond words. The preconceived ideas of many regarding how to have victory in the life--or, indeed, if obedience is even wanted or needed in the life of a Christian--further confuse the issue.
Like many of you, I have hesitated to raise the subject, knowing things can go "off the rails" in a heartbeat. To further complicate the issue, Paul says, "[T]he law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching" (1 Tim. 1:9, 10). The law is not intended for those who obey. Who would want to take up this subject, knowing how the enemy of souls hates it, will do everything he can to obscure it, and that raising the issue brings you head to head with the kingdom of darkness?
Please excuse me if I talk about myself for a moment but this story makes a needed point. I came into the church about the time people started talking about obedience. Could you obey, or couldn't you. Was it even needed? Too much focus on obedience was a red flag to God that our faith was weak to nonexistent (they told me); therefore, in order to demonstrate our faith we should just forget thoughts about obedience. And I did. For awhile.
I finally had to know. I could not go on another moment without knowing the truth of the puzzle before me. I saw that it impacted my whole life. I prayed earnestly about it and became impressed that the answer was somewhere within the fragile pages of the word of God. How I resisted! I did not want to read the Bible completely through as the Holy Spirit directed. It was such a thick book with all those "thee's" and "thou's" in it. We finally compromised with a more readable modern translation, and I began my first daily journey through Scripture. What did I find when I was through? I found the beautiful message of God's character of love.
Looking back, I marvel at God's providence. He arranged for me to learn--at the same time--the righteousness by faith message. These two messages that are still inexcusably misunderstood and unknown by many within Adventism (including the historic kind), while not realizing that these two messages together are the most potent tools in the arsenal of the saints to teach the need to obey God (the message of God's character of love) and also how to do it (the righteousness by faith message). And this is the point I want to make. I wonder, How many of the "saints" are in the same boat I was in? How many of them are wondering the same thing I wondered for so long?
So how does use of the made-up word "sanctificationist" fit into this scenario? It offers, as a foil for the word "legalist," another better word, "sanctificationist." It shows that there are two mind sets regarding the subject of obedience. With only the word legalist to define us, we enter the battle zone greatly disadvantaged. Everything got dumped under that one definition.
"Sanctificationist," however, means the child of God understands the only path to true victory over sin. It means that he/she hears Jesus knocking at the heart's door and hastens to open it and let the Holy Spirit in to guide each day. It takes the subject of obedience from something cold, hard, and difficult and turns it into something alive with the sweet spirit of Jesus. Therefore, in the future if you have the misfortune to be called a legalist, correct the speaker by saying, No, I am a sanctificationist.