When God created you and me, he created everyone with an internal voice that excuses or accuses when we make decisions. It tells us when we have done something wrong. That voice is called conscience, and it is an instrument that God uses from keeping the world of going into chaos. However, those who have trusted in Christ have a much more powerful influence within them that convicts them of sin and excuses them or calls them to repentance. That voice of conviction is the Holy Spirit himself who dwells within us. Sadly, just as some unbelievers can sear their conscience to the point of committing the worst deeds possible, Christians can also silence or quench the voice of the Holy Spirit within them; this quenching produces a self-confident, self-atoning and self-depending Christian life, which in turn produces a joyless and a monotonous walk with the Lord.
Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19)
What does the text mean?
After giving a speech about the second coming and several other topics, the apostle Paul ends the his letter to the Thessalonians with some final instructions in the form of commandments; among them we find this short but life changing instruction: “do not quench the Spirit”. What does it mean to quench the spirit? It means that we in a sense resist the will of the Holy Spirit in our lives; instead of letting his power run in us and through us, we ignore his voice in favor of the sin we so much love and entertain in our lives. It is very sad that Christians do not realize that they have an unending, infinite source of power within them to do God’s will and to reach the world for Christ, but because we choose to ignore and silence the voice of the Spirit, we instead live lives of defeat and with a complete lack of joy in him. John Piper says that “…the Spirit is like a fire whose flame we want to be careful not to quench or extinguish. The Holy Spirit wants to intensify the heat of his presence among us, to inflame our hearts and fill us with the warmth of his indwelling power”.
It is often the case that we have grown so accustomed to quenching the Spirit that we sin almost automatically and are somewhat comfortable with it. In the moments of our temptation, it is not that we have completely obliterated the voice of God in our lives (it is impossible), it is just that the sound of his voice becomes very dim in our hearts and minds and we thus choose to ignore it. You can never forget your God, but you ignore his voice and relegate it to the side when you are in the midst of a temptation. This is what sin always does, it has always done it. It tries to make you forget about your God, to diminish the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life so that you become a joyless, monotonous and pharisaical Christian that only goes through the daily, mechanical motions of a religious life.
Therefore, Paul urges the church not to quench the Spirit. In Ephesians he says, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God”. This verse focuses on our relationship with him. When we quench the Spirit, we also grieve him and our relationship with him is damaged, which brings a lack of joy to our hearts that makes them grow colder and deaf to the Spirit’s voice.
What does it mean to me?
Does this verse reflect what is going on in your life right now? Have you quenched the Spirit’s voice and therefore grieved him much? You probably realize that those anger outbursts are not just your personality; they are sins in your life that have become part of you and make you bitter and joyless. Maybe there is pride in your life that makes you think you deserve better or that you are better than others and therefore you never listen to advice. Maybe you have quenched the Spirit to such degree that you do not even desire any fellowship with your fellow Christians. Maybe you are one of those that do not think that church attendance is a big deal, after all, you can worship at home. You also might be reading this and lust has become a part of who you are, you are so accustomed to lusting after women (or men) that you quench the Spirit in your life.
Brothers and sisters, do not quench the Spirit. Do not ignore his voice that convicts you of sin. Do not relegate the Holy Spirit to the side in favor of accommodating sin in your life. There is no room for God and the world in the living room of your heart. If you have been guilty of a seared conscience that quenches the Spirit, would you repent today? Would you spend time on your knees begging the Holy Spirit to make his voice so audible and loud in your heart and mind that you cannot ignore?
May God give you the strength to do so for his glory.
God bless you