A FRESH LOOK AT THE HOLY SPIRIT
“Quenching the Spirit”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
Little Johnny and his family were having Sunday dinner at his Grandmother's house. Everyone was seated around the table as the food was being served. When little Johnny received his plate, he started eating right away. "Johnny, wait until we say our prayer," his mother reminded him. "I don't have to," the little boy replied. "Of course you do," his mother insisted, "we say a prayer before eating at our house." "That's at our house," Johnny explained, "but this is Grandma's house and she knows how to cook!" The great thing about most kids is that it can be pretty difficult at time to stifle their thoughts and words.
This morning I want to take a few moments and look at, what I see as a problem in the life of many Christians and in the church as a whole. I’m speaking of quenching the Holy Spirit. So, let’s read the text verses together.
In this area of Scripture the Apostle Paul is giving out some basic elements of Christian living. He talks about how Christians are to relate to Lord starting in verse 16. Then we come to vs 19 where Paul says” Do not put out the Spirit's fire;
The Greek word for "put out" or “quench” means to extinguish, to stifle, and to retard. The Holy Spirit throughout Scripture is depicted as a fire. The Apostle is saying, "Don't pour water on that fire."
In Ephesians 4:30 it says, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit." You say, "Well what is the difference between quenching and grieving?" Quenching is what you do to the Spirit, grieving is how He responds to what you did. Grieving speaks of the anguish of the Holy Spirit when a believer quenches the holy fire that He has kindled in the heart. When you quench the Holy Spirit you grieve the Holy Spirit. To be in right relationship to the Lord, we must not quench the Holy Spirit. Let’s see what the Holy Spirit's work is and how we quench it.
When Jesus was coming near to His crucifixion, He said in John 14:17 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth.” His promise was that the Holy Spirit was going to come and fill the role that Jesus filled in the lives of the disciples. Jesus was saying “The Holy Spirit will step into the role that I have had. I have been the fire around you, He will be the fire in you.” And so, on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to live within every believer like a fire, not to be quenched, but to be fanned to full flame.
I believe the Holy Spirit is being significantly quenched today and that He is deeply grieved by what is going on in the church. We hear much of the Holy Spirit – the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Holy Spirit etc. The Holy Spirit has been reduced to some sort of divine genie who does only things that are seen, felt or heard. Generally speaking, when we talk about quenching the Holy Spirit, we think of not allowing the gifts of the Spirit to be manifested. But there’s a lot more to it than just that. There is little, if anything, mentioned about the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
For instance, there is an increasing obsession with psychology which quenches the work of the Spirit. How? By substituting human wisdom, human resources, human power packaged in human techniques as the only way to solve spiritual problems. They reject the belief that the Holy Spirit alone can heal the sins of our lives and make us holy. Much of the contemporary church, while affirming its belief in the Holy Spirit, would say we need a therapist. I disagree.
John MacArthur makes this statement: "Psychological sanctification has become a substitute for the Spirit filled life. What point is there in seeking the Holy Spirit's comfort if, emotional problems can be addressed only by a trained psychologist …. If those things are true, we don't need an advocate (the Holy Spirit), we need a therapist." This is precisely the way many in the church have chosen to go and it is quenching the Holy Spirit.
I recently read of a letter from a woman who said: "Recommending only Bible study and prayer for emotional pain can be like putting on a Band-Aid when you need surgery. Just becoming a Christian doesn't solve the dilemma. A man with a broken leg isn't helped by rubbing ointment on the hurting area. Until you discover the underlying cause of the pain you can't bring about healing."
So, she is saying that Bible study, prayer, and the ministry of the Spirit is a Band-Aid, but psychology is deep surgery – that God’s Word, prayer, the ministry of the Holy Spirit only rubs ointment on the problem, it does not correct it. To correct it you must go deeper than what spiritual resources alone can do and go see a psychologist. God simply doesn’t have the power and resources to solve these kinds of problems. But the truth is that psychology is the Band-Aid and the Word of God, prayer and the power of the Spirit is the deep surgery.
Again, I disagree.
At a ministers meeting in LaPine a Christian psychologist (a contradiction in terms) came to us asking us to help promote his business in our churches. That there may be people there who needed his help that we were not trained to give. I told him that I would not promote his business. While I might now know how to help people, the Holy Spirit does. I further stated that it didn’t make any sense to me to recommend to our congregation that they go see someone who is trained in methods that were created by godless atheists to help with a problem that was inherently spiritual.
Let me ask you a question. Is there actually someone better equipped than the Holy Spirit to help us? Are we saying that had God known what we now know, that rather than plant the Holy Spirit in us, He would instead have given us our own personal therapist? Give me a break.
Galatians 3:3 says, "Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Have you found some human technique, some human methodology, therapy or whatever that is going to do the real deep stuff because the Spirit can't do it? You began in the Spirit; do you think you'll be perfected by the flesh?
The Holy Spirit came into your life and in the power of the gospel brought you from death to life, from darkness to light, from heaven to hell, from sin to holiness, from Satan's child to God's child. He did all of that at the time of your salvation. And Paul says "Are you telling me that He did all of that and now you can't trust Him for the rest? So you've turned to some human resource and you now think that for the problems of life the Holy Spirit is a Band-Aid and psychology is deep surgery?" Good grief.
Furthermore, there are people who are quenching the Holy Spirit by replacing preaching the Word of God with entertainment--people who think that the church grows, not by the power of the Spirit, but by the cleverness creative activity. That preaching a social gospel will change people instead of the Holy Spirit changing people.
What does the Holy Spirit want to do in me that I can quench? He wants to separate you further from sin. And the further you get away from sin the closer you get to God. That is His work and that's what the Spirit desires to do. Psychology can't do that. Human wisdom can't do that. Creative programs can’t do that. Nothing can do that but the Holy Spirit. Now there are a few things the Spirit is doing in you that you need to know. Number one,
HE ILLUMINATES THE WORD OF GOD 1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”
Now the process of being separated from sin and getting closer to God is generated by the Word of God. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" You feed on the Word and as you do you grow. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Word.
The Holy Spirit through the Word of God transforms the whole person. But you can quench the Spirit by not applying God’s Word in your life so that you become a hearer and not a doer. There's a second thing the Holy Spirit does.
HE BRINGS US INTO INTIMACY WITH GOD -- To move closer to God, you have to spend time with God. It is the Holy Spirit that wants us to draw closer in prayer, in communion, in fellowship with God – into greater intimacy. It is the Spirit moving in our hearts, who takes God from being a distant God and making Him a God of love and compassion and care. Intimacy with God is an essential part of our growth.
How do you quench the Spirit here? By being bitter and angry--by not being prayerful-- by not being willing to cast your cares upon Him. You can quench that work of the Spirit by sticking to your human resources and saying, "I'm not going to go to God for anything, I've got all I need, I can handle myself. God doesn't have what I need." There's a third thing He does in moving us toward Christ's likeness.
HE GLORIFIES CHRIST TO US – 2 Corinthians 3:18 says “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
What is the mirror that reflects the glory of the Lord? As you study the Word of God, the reflection of the glory of Jesus Christ is seen. Who's doing this? "The Lord, who is the Spirit." How do we quench that work of the Holy Spirit? Easy. Just don't bother to study the Word -- don't be humble and admit that you're short of the glory of Christ. Spiritual pride will hold you back and will quench the Spirit and grieve His heart. Fourthly:
HE WANTS TO GUIDE YOU INTO GOD’S WILL -- Jeremiah 10:23 says, "I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps." Jeremiah says, “I can't direct my own steps. Lord, You've got to guide me in the path of Your will, I cannot do that on my own."
The Spirit leads us, prompts us, compels us, and convicts us to obey what we know from Scripture. But the Spirit also leads us through the circumstances of life. You can quench that through selfishness. “I want to do what I want to do and I want to do it the way I want to do it.” Self-will, stubbornness, pride, or apathy, indifference, and insensitivity to His leading.” Those things will quench the Spirit. Lastly:
HE STRENGTHENS US -- Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:16 "I pray that you might be strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit," The only way you're going to do God's will, and glorify Christ is when your power is coming from the Holy Spirit. He's infusing us with strength as we are in the Word, and praying, obeying, and we cast ourselves totally on Him because He's all there is that is left. You can quench that, too, by being proud, not recognizing your need, and by being confident in your own flesh, your own ability.
I know that we don't want to quench the Spirit but we're doing it if we do not allow the Spirit of God to accomplish these things as He moves us toward Christ likeness. May God help us to be faithful not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit.
Call---God desires a personal relationship with all of us and the Holy Spirit wants to guide us there. It begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ and an invitation to have Christ come into our hearts, receive His forgiveness for our sins, and live for Him. Is that your desire today?
My friends, all of us have had times when we’ve quenched the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit more today than ever before. Let’s come and ask God’s Spirit to help us surrender to Him more fully and to live in more in His Control.
We know, Father, that the only way to override our sinfulness, our evil desires and temptations is to walk in and be filled with the Spirit. We know that without the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, we can fall back into the deeds of the flesh. And the only defense against the temptation, sin and Satan, is the power of Your Spirit. Lord, help us not to quench the Spirit but to give Him full power to operate in our lives, to move in the way that He alone make us like Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.