‘Do not quench the Spirit’, writes Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:19. What are some of the ways we do this?
1. We quench the Holy Spirit when we rely decisively on any resource other than the Holy Spirit for anything we do in life and ministry.
- Any attempt to conjure up “hope” apart from that power which is the Spirit (Romans 15:13) is to quench him, as well as any effort to persevere in ministry and remain patient with joy by any other means than the Spirit (Colossians 1:11).
- Any effort to carry out pastoral ministry other than through “his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29) is to quench the Spirit.
- Any attempt to resolve to carry out some good work of faith through a “power” other than the Spirit is to quench him (2 Thessalonians 1:11).
2. We quench the Spirit whenever we diminish his personality and speak of him as if he were only an abstract power or source of divine energy.
- The Holy Spirit is not ‘it’, but ‘he’. We do not receive his power by flicking a switch, but by entering into relationship with the triune God.
3. We quench the Spirit whenever we suppress or legislate against his work of imparting spiritual gifts and ministering to the church through them.
- See 1 Cor 12:7
4. We quench the Spirit whenever we create an inviolable and sanctimonious structure in our corporate gatherings and worship services, and in our small groups, that does not permit spontaneity or the special leading of the Spirit.
- The ‘spiritual songs’ mentioned in Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16 seem to be improvised, rather than pre-composed. 1 Cor 14:29-31 implies that the Spirit may well reveal something to a person just as another person is speaking.
5. We quench the Spirit whenever we despise prophetic utterances
- See 1 Thessalonians 5:20. No matter how badly people may have abused the gift of prophecy, it is disobedient to Scripture — in other words, a sin — to despise prophetic utterances. God commands us not to treat prophecy with contempt, as if it were unimportant.
6. We quench the Spirit whenever we diminish his activity that alerts and awakens us to the glorious and majestic truth that we are truly the children of God
- See Rom 8:15–16; Gal 4:4–7, in which the assurance of adoption is the direct result of the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
7. We quench the Spirit whenever we suppress, or legislate against, or instill fear in the hearts of people regarding the legitimate experience of heartfelt emotions and affections in worship.
- If our Lord could ‘rejoice in the Holy Spirit’ (Lk 10:21), then so should we. See also Eph 5:18f.
Sam Storms, from whose article the preceding is abstracted, concludes:
‘May I urge you to carefully search your own heart and assess the possible ways in which you may have quenched the Spirit in your own life and in the experience of your local church? Yielding to and making room for the Spirit’s work in our midst is not to be feared but fostered. May God grant us both the wisdom and confidence in his goodness to facilitate a greater and more life-changing experience of the Spirit’s transforming power.’