The Holy Spirit: The Divine Strategist for Holy War

Jesus was the perfect human being. But he was also the messianic King, fighting the battle against the Great Dragon on our behalf.  How did he do it? What was his secret? What was the Power that enabled the Messiah to take dominion over all his enemies? According to Sinclair Ferguson it was the Holy Spirit. I provide the following quote at length because it’s just that good:

It has been commonplace to interpret Jesus’s temptations as analogous to, almost a model for, attempting of the Christian: Christ was tempted as we are, but resisted; therefore we should resist in similar ways. But this leads to a partial and negative interpretation of his experiences. His temptations constitute an epochal event. They are not merely personal, but cosmic. They constitute the tempting of the last Adam. True, there is a common bond between his temptations and ours: he is really and personally confronted by dark powers. But the significance of the event does not lie in the ways in which our temptations are like his, but in the particularity and uniqueness of his experiences. He was driven into the wilderness has an assault force. His testing was set in the context of a holy war in which he entered the enemies domain, absorbed his attacks and sends him into retreat (Mt. 4:11, and especially Lk. 4:13). In the power of the Spirit, Jesus advanced as the divine the warrior, the god of battles who fights on behalf of his people and for their salvation (cf. Ex. 15:3; Ps. 98:1). His triumph demonstrated that ‘the kingdom of God is near’ and that the messianic conflict had begun.

The Lukan narrative bridges the gap between the baptism in Jordan and the temptations in the wilderness with a genealogical table tracing Jesus’ lineage back to Adam (Lk. 3:23-38). Hear the inclusio of the whole of human history between Adam and Jesus suggests that the temptation in victory of the latter are to be interpreted in the light of the testing and defeat of the former with all its baneful entail. The second man-Son thus undid what was done by the first man–son; he obeyed and overcame as the last Adam and now no further representative figure is needed.

The conflict in which Jesus engaged is, therefore, to be seen as a re-run of Eden. Like Adam before him, Jesus was incited to ‘be as God’ and to reject his word. But he chose the way of God glorifying obedience and suffering instead. His resistance and faithfulness contrast also with the 40 years of wandering and testing in which the people grieved the spirit rather than conformed to his guidance (cf. Is. 63:7-14). They rebelled against the Spirit who drove them out of Egypt and grieved him; on the contrary, Jesus, anointed with the Spirit was carried obediently and overcomingly through the test of the wilderness’s evil day.

Thus, in the power of the Spirit in the inhospitable desert which the world had become the first Adam’s sin, the second man, the eschatological man (ho eschatos Adam, 1 Cor. 15:45), we gained enemy – occupied territory. The immediate consequence is that Jesus was able sovereignly to dismiss the devil (‘Away from me, Satan!’ Mt. 4:10), who was forced to depart until he could find ‘an opportune time’ (Lk. 4:13). The longer-term consequence was that, having beaten back Satan on his ‘own territory’, Jesus is now in a position to strike fear into his legions and cast them out.

…The Spirit’s role in Jesus’ ministry is now evident. He serves as the heavenly cartographer and divine strategist who maps out the battle terrain and directs the Warrior–King to the strategic point of conflict. He is Christ’s adjutant-general in the holy war which is waged throughout the incarnation.

This Jesus, Roman–general-like, returns from his hidden conquest ‘to Galilee into power of the Spirit’ (Lk. 4:14). The immediate effect of the fact that ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power’ was that ‘he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him’ (Acts 10:38; cf. 4:37). For Luke, the whole of Jesus’s ministry following his baptism is exercised in the power of the messianic spirit. He has been anointed to engage in a power conflict. But in him the final year of Jubilee as outcome; there is freedom (Lk. 4:18-19, cf. Lv. 25:8-55). The result is that his preaching has authority (Lk. 4:32), his word exorcising and liberating power (Lk. 4:33-37), and his touch heals ‘all’ (Lk. 4:40). Nothing is outside of his dominion. The wonders he performs are accomplished in the energy and by the presence of the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 12:28). That is why they serve as signs of the coming messianic age in which the Spirit’s power will be fully manifested and all nature will be healed. – Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, 48-50


Posted on March 6, 2012, in Great Quotes, Holy Spirit. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Powerful imagery and clear teaching. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This is a solid, solid book. I would make it primary reading for any class on the Holy Spirit.

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