Rushdoony on “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit,” from Systematic Theology (Part 3)

The Spirit of Jubilee

When a man sees himself as made of two or three different substances, i.e., mind and body, or, mind, body, and soul or spirit, the consequences are serious. In his moral struggles, he can then reserve an ostensible innocence to one part of his being and blame another for his moral failures… (p. 303)

When we have a divided view of man, we can talk of being “carried away” by our emotions into sin, when in reality sin begins in our heart, in the center of our being. The divided view enables us to say that, instead of having a moral conflict, we have had a metaphysical conflict in our being. The Greek view was in fact metaphysical; the Biblical doctrine is ethical. (303-04)

How we view sin’s effect upon us will also mark or color our view of the effects of grace and the Holy Spirit. If sin acts on the borders or peripheries of our lives, then too so will grace and the Holy Spirit. All the while, our hearts are then reserved to ourselves.

The sinner likes to believe that he is in command of his sin. The alcoholic will commonly maintain that he can quit drinking whenever he chooses. Sin is seen as on the periphery, whereas the heart remains a reserved and untarnished or private domain. One man obviously guilty of particularly repulsive sins, insisted, “If you really get to know me, you’ll see I’m really very different.” The Manichaeans went so far as to hold sins to be inevitable to the flesh, but the soul to be pure, if the soul separated itself from the body’s depravity; the Manichaean could then sin with impunity and supposed purity… (304)

As we approach the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, we must remember that we are not the standard. Charismatics and non-charismatics are all too prone to cite what the Spirit has done in their lives, when the criterion is not us, but Christ. The Lord is the normative man, and Christ’s experience of the Spirit in His incarnation must be normative for us. We have that experience set forth in the Old and New Testaments: [Read Isa. 61:1-3; and Luke 4:16-21.] (304-05)

[This prophecy and fulfillment] are an episode in the life of our Lord…and much more. It sets forth [His] calling, and the Spirit’s purpose; but it also declares what our life in the Spirit is to be… The purpose of the Spirit in Jesus Christ is His purpose in all of us.

It is thus a beggarly view of the Spirit and a serious distortion, to limit His work in us to our salvation, or to our experience. The coming of the Spirit is expressly associated with preaching good tidings, setting free the captives, comforting the mourners, declaring God’s vengeance, and bringing about a mighty reversal of all things. When the Virgin Mary went to see Elizabeth, when both women were pregnant, both, filled with the Spirit, spoke prophetically. [Read Luke 1:46-55.] (305-06)

There is a common theme in Isaiah’s prophecy of the work of the Spirit and of Christ, and in Mary’s Magnificat, because both come from the same Spirit. The central point is clearly stated: “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isa. 61:2; Luke 4:19). Commentators have long noted that this verse and the passage as a whole have reference to the year of jubilee, and then said no more. But our Lord plainly sets forth the freedom and redemption of the jubilee as the life of His Kingdom. Our calling in the Spirit is thus jubilee oriented as was the Magnificat of Mary, and our Lord’s entire life and ministry. The Holy Spirit thus points us to God’s jubilee and moves us to work in terms of it. The jubilee is the time of return, restoration, and restitution. The trumpet of the jubilee is accompanied by the great declaration, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:10). It is unto all the inhabitants thereof, because it is all to be God’s Kingdom. In our Lord’s words, as in Isaiah’s, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jubilee, of fulfillment and freedom. It is the great restoration and development of God’s order, and to be in the Spirit is to be one who works for God’s jubilee.

Humanism works also for its dream of jubilee, but its realm is one of death and mourning, where life is exchanged for ashes, and freedom for bondage. Our Lord is the Lord of the Jubilee; the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Jubilee and the Lord thereof. When we are filled with the Spirit, we then work to bring in the Kingdom of the Jubilee. Our Lord declares in the Spirit, “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:7). We are called to say and do not less. (306)

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