#TalkingThursday – If you don’t talk about Jesus who will?
At the start of this year, we examined 12 instructions given to us from I Thessalonians 5:12-22. We decided to implement these instructions by doing at least one of them each month. Following our list, the instruction for October is:
Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the [Holy] Spirit.
– I Thessalonians 5:19 [AMP]
This is also seen in Ephesians 4:30, where Paul commands the Ephesian Christians with a similar instruction not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.”
Who is The Holy Spirit?
There are certain times where it is best to understand a thing (or in this case, a person), by what it (or he/she) is not. This is one of those cases. Therefore, in very short, simple sentences: the Holy Spirit is NOT a mystical force. The Holy Spirit is NOT the impersonal power that God makes available to followers of Christ. The Holy Spirit is God. A divine person, with a mind, emotions, and will. Amongst other things, and for the purpose of this article, we are focused on the Holy Spirit being the seal of our salvation (see Ephesians 1:11-14). Read up on who the Holy Spirit is here.
As Christians, the baptism of the Spirit works in us like a fire, enlightening and purifying our souls. However, just as fire can be put out by taking away fuel or pouring a great deal of water or sand on it; the Holy Spirit in us can also be suppressed to silence when we refuse to open ourselves up to His leading. By doing this, believers tamper with God’s seal of salvation and hinder their growth in grace and maturity.
It may astonish many of us that the Holy Spirit in us can be grieved or quenched. Yes, quenched. As in, put out, extinguished, stifled, suppressed and reduced to silence. That sounds so scary! By my decisions, choices, actions and lifestyle, I can silence the Holy Spirit. What a dangerous thought! May this never befall you in Jesus name!
Suggesting that the omnipotent Spirit of God could be restricted in our lives, and in the life of the local church, because of our actions, is to tread on thin theological ice. Therefore, to further explain this concept Matthew Henry’s Commentary describes the Spirit as a holy fire:
Quench not the Spirit. The Spirit being a holy fire: “where the Spirit is, He burns” (Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:3; 7:51).
What is Quenching the Spirit and how does it happen?
There are similarities between quenching and grieving the Spirit. Both take place as the result of a believer who sins. Both take place as the result of a self-focused lifestyle that places self above God and others. Both include continuing in the former way a person lived before coming to Christ and being born again. However, quenching is the end result of grieving but note that grieving/quenching are used interchangeably for the purposes of this write-up.
Grieving the Spirit is to abuse, abandon or despise the supernatural work of the Spirit and treat it with contempt. Right there in the context of 1 Thessalonians 5:19–21, we are told one way that we grieve the Spirit: by having an attitude of contempt towards God’s supernatural gifting of prophecy.
We grieve the Spirit whenever we react negatively to prophetic utterances
No matter how badly people may have abused the gift of prophecy in our churches today, the appropriate response isn’t to despise prophetic utterances because God commands us not to treat prophecy with contempt, i.e. as if it were unimportant.
Rather than advocating the disuse of prophecy (as is the practice of many cessationists today) the biblical remedy is informed by discernment of spirits and “holding fast to what is good” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
We grieve the Holy Spirit by neglecting to use/cultivate the gifts He has given us. Both 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 admonish us not to neglect the gifts of the Holy Spirit but rather to fan it to flame! So clearly in scripture, neglecting to cultivate the gift of the Holy Spirit is a way by which we can grieve the Spirit within us.
Another way is by resisting the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are contained in Galatians 5 and describe the behaviours that the Holy Spirit is expected to produce in every Christian. This is supported via the context of Ephesians 4:29–31, which exhorts us to be kind and gracious to other people – in other words, to live out the fruit of the Holy Spirit. So when we resist acting, in a way that is gracious or kind, or loving or gentle or longsuffering etc, we are grieving the Holy Spirit who activates and desires those behaviours within us.
We also grieve the Holy Spirit when we misrepresent Him, His personage or words to other Christians/unbelievers. This happens when we make statements like “Thus sayeth the Lord,” or “Well, God told me to tell you this,” when we know the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with the message that we cooked up on our own. Or sometimes, we add to His sayings or twist them to suit our own purposes.
No matter how it occurs, the takeaway point is this: when we credit the Holy Spirit for messages that did not originate from Him, we take the Lord’s name in vain and accord to Him a false glory. It is offering strange incense on God’s altar and it grieves the Holy Spirit so much when we do such things! Sadly, our churches are rife with these occurrences and popular “prophets” often bring lying words and false visions. Don’t be fooled, discern the spirit before committing yourself to what has been said.
Finally, in more practical terms, the fastest way to quench the Holy Spirit is by walking in continuous disobedience to His will. To demonstrate this, look no further than the examples of Samson and King Saul in 1 Samuel 15 and Judges 16 respectively. Their stories reveal that disobedience quenched the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
This means that listening to whatever the Holy Spirit tells you is extremely important. In this context, listening means obedience. Where he instructs you or rebukes you, heed His words. If you stop listening (i.e. obeying), He stops speaking.
A life of obedience is a life that will be full, in an ever-increasing measure of the Holy Spirit. If you do not do what He says, He will leave you to do your will, which will certainly lead to your destruction. It is a dangerous thing to quench the spirit, so let’s always be on the watch.
Here are things to do if you fear that you’ve grieved the Holy Spirit:
If you suspect you’ve been living a life that has silenced the Holy Spirit in some way, there is hope for you yet. Just as a fire is quenched by effort, by the same effort it can also be restored. Just like Samson in his last hour repented and regained His strength, you too can repent, heed the Holy Spirit’s last instructions to you and begin to rekindle the fire. Say a prayer of repentance, and stop every action you know constitutes a form of disobedience to the Holy Spirit. Be it having to quit that job or relationship. Whatever it is, receive the grace to let go of every habit of disobedience in Jesus name! Amen.
Focus Your Mind
Scripture exhorts us to set your mind on the things above…for where our treasures are, there our hearts will be also. Therefore, it is not enough to repent. We must reinforce our repentance with positive behaviours, attitudes and habits. Television, social media, internet and cell phone usage amongst other routines of life, have a tendency to consume time and drain our energy. We must take the time to find satisfaction in heavenly treasures. Daily plug-in to the Spirit to allow His fellowship to recharge you and renew your mind as well as your walk with God.
Set Your Day
Command your morning, under the guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit. Each morning pray for God’s new mercies, favour and power to reign over the flesh throughout the workings of the day.
Look Out For Red Flags
Anytime the Spirit gives you a gut-check about something and you ignore it, you’re resisting His leading. In other words, you’re saying “I don’t need you. I can do this myself.” Declaring independence in this way is the tragic flaw of pride. Don’t fall into that trap, always heed God’s warning immediately, his mercy is not for show or to be toyed with. Looking out for red flags enables you to stay within God’s will. Don’t ignore them.
The “peace test” is a common way to guide and direct decision making as a Christian. You’ll often know if you’re going in the right direction when the Holy Spirit gives peace in your heart about something or when the Holy Spirit removes peace in your heart and you feel restless or troubled. Make the Peace test a staple in your daily life!
Obey The Inner Voice
You know that still small voice, telling you that thing that you really don’t want to hear? Yes, that voice. Obey it. The worst thing you could do is twist what the Spirit tells you or quiet the Spirit through rebellion or disobedience. For example, if a friend always asks you for advice but never does what you say, next time, you be so eager to give them advice. It’s the same with the Holy Spirit. Be sure to obey His voice when you hear Him.
Spend Quality Time
Cultivate a habit of spending personal time with the Lord. Skipping devotional time is just like skipping mealtime in the natural. Just as your body gets hungry when you don’t eat, your spirit also gets hungry when you don’t feed on God’s word. When we deprive our spirit of what it needs it gets weaker and it becomes much more difficult for it to maintain it’s primary function. Be mindful of feeding your spirit just as much as you are feeding your flesh. By doing this, you keep Holy Spirit actively engaged in your life!
Hope you’ve been edified in some way by this post,
GRACE & PEACE!