Spirit and Fire
Isaiah 4:4-6 “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”
It was interesting to me to find this passage after a recent conversation with a friend about another passage that I would say goes hand in hand with this. In it, John the Baptist says of Jesus, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). From these two passages we can glean a little discernment of these baptisms from the Father through the Christ.
First of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of judgment, Jesus says that the Spirit He will send us will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Here we see that the baptism of the Spirit comes to those of the world who receive within themselves this conviction that brings understanding of their sin, God’s righteousness and that sent through Christ on our behalf, and the judgment to come that will be determined by whether or not we believe and receive. This baptism is the baptism of rebirth that brings our spirits fully to life with His, making us one with Jesus and part of the Kingdom of God. After this baptism of rebirth, the work of the Spirit of judgment continues as He teaches us to recognize the source of the choices we have in life, whether they will produce sin or righteousness and wisdom to discern the consequences of our choices. Without this work of the Spirit in us, we cannot walk with God in truth.
Second, this first baptism of the spirit of judgment leads to the baptism of fire or burning. As we grow in our maturity as people of God, His Spirits begins to burn within us to reveal sin habits and patterns that must be surrendered to God and transformed to His likeness. This can be an arduous process to go through, much like burning away our flesh with fire would be difficult to live through. The more we fight the change God calls us to make the more fierce the fire burns through consequences meant to move us toward Him and away from the evil we run after to easily. This fire is not only burning away the rule of flesh in our lives, it is removing the desires and pursuits that make up the dross that hinders His image from reflecting in our lives.
God will do what it takes to make us into His image because He loves us and no unrighteousness can enter the gates of the eternal. The more we work in cooperation with the Spirit of God, the less of the burn we will experience. So be quick to hear and believe; and receive and press forward in faith. Then the fire of God can impassion us for the things of God, empowering us for good and glory as never before.
Father, we cry out for the baptism of Christ to do its work in us, making us a reflection of Your glory, grace, and love. Holy Spirit, have full sway to the glory of God’s name. In Jesus, amen.