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.