A holistic understanding of the person, purpose, presence and power of the Holy Spirit is needed to live a fruitful and empowered Christian life.
To better understand the New Testament teaching on The Holy Spirit we need to see that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is connected to narratives that extend beyond the indwelling and empowering the believer. The gifts and fruits of the Spirit are some of the results of the redemption narrative but not the only ones. The eternal purposes of God in Christ involves us, but we are not the center of the eternal purposes of God, Christ is, and in Him, we share in the full inheritance of that purpose:
Ephesians 3:10-11 “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Our new birth, infilling and sanctifying life in The Holy Spirit is part of the unfolding purposes of God. Isaiah prophesied and poetically contemplated the great overarching narrative of Jehovah confronting, defeating and restoring creation from the rule and ruin of the dragon by the purposes, presence and power of the Holy Spirit in Isaiah.
The personal puzzle pieces (gifts, fruits, works) that relate to our experience of the Holy Spirit fit best when placed into the frame of the overarching eternal purpose of God in Christ. This understanding will set the foundation for seeing how our personal regeneration, infilling and equipping of the Holy Spirit fit into that grand redemptive narrative.
Understanding the defeat of “the Dragon, the ancient serpent” (Rev 20:2) is central to understanding the eternal purposes of God in Christ.
A Central Gospel Truth:
Satan has been judged, his kingdom is being overthrown and believers are called to live on mission from a new identity of righteousness that provides a position of victory, authority and power in Christ through the Holy Spirit and the Word.
The Habitation of Dragons
Isaiah 27:1 “In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, with His fierce and great and mighty sword, even Leviathan the twisted serpent; and He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.”
The prophet Isaiah stands before us as a prophet bard, speaking inspired poetry that gives light to the misty past, unveils the mad and mysterious present and offers hope for the unknown future. All the demons, beasts, monsters, frights, terrors, horrors. maladies, disasters, sickness and diseases of the human experience and religious imaginations are encompassed in the prophetic proclamations of Isaiah the most quoted prophet in the New Testament. Isaiah’s eternal archetypal message of God as hero/Christ as messiah are prophecies, visions, provocations and consolations of hope and rescue. Isaiah proclaims that God has, does and will rescue his people from the ancient adversary the Dragon. The dragon is the primordial, mythical, dark and devilish embodiment of all that is evil from all that is reality, story dream or nightmare. In Isaiah’s poetry we hear words, names, images and experiences that capture the turmoil, sufferings and trials of our lives. This is truth, no matter where we have been born, what age we live in or what understanding of religion or reality we have come to believe. These prophecies tell the most true story reflected, alluded to or told…in all stories.
- The prophetic promise of the great outpouring of the Spirit: Isaiah 32:11-17
11 Tremble, you complacent women; shudder, you daughters who feel secure! Strip off your fine clothes and wrap yourselves in rags. 12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vines 13 and for the land of my people, a land overgrown with thorns and briers—yes, mourn for all houses of merriment and for this city of revelry. 14 The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks, 15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. 16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. 17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
- The poetic descriptions of the creation under in chaos and curse: Isaiah 34:11-16
11 But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.12 They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. 13 And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. 14 The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. 15 There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. 16 Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
- The poetic descriptions of creation being renewed and restored: Isaiah 35:1-7
“Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. 2 Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. 3 With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. 4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” 5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. 6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. 7 The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.”
- The Prophetic Instruction to enter into the work of God by The Holy Spirit: Isaiah 34:16
Isaiah 34:16 : “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
We have been welcomed into the victory of God in Christ. Placing your faith and trust in Jesus, opens up to you the inheritance of God. That inheritance includes walking in the authority and power of Christ to work for the true, good and beautiful in life, in spite of the works of darkness.
Luke 10:19 “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
We are empowered to live by the life of God, enjoy the communion of God and do the works of God, which includes delivering, destroying, dismantling and denouncing the works of darkness. One of those primary works of the Spirit through the believer is to ‘trample and overcome’ all the power of the enemy.
The command to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18) is a lifelong invitation to know, experience and be sustained by the presence and power of God. To settle for less is foolish in light of the spiritual realities of the battle with the dragon of old.