Pentecost season: Do not quench nor grieve the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is usually represented as a flame or fire, which is glorious, but which at the same time makes it appear vulnerable, because fire is quenchable. However, with the significant gift of the Holy Spirit, Paul gives a stark warning in 1Thessalonians 5:19, when he says: “Do not quench the Spirit”. I have always wondered if the Spirit of God is quenchable.
Can we humans extinguish such a phenomenal power? Apostle Paul thinks we can. On reflection, I also think we can and we do, though inadvertently. How do we quench the Holy Spirit of God? In today’s world, there is the erosion of the absolute dependence on the Spirit of God for guidance, for power and intervention in some situations.
The workings of the Holy Spirit are being replaced with human skills, abilities, capabilities and scientific knowledge, which are not awful in themselves. After all, Daniel 12:4 tells us that in the last days, knowledge shall increase. It is the over-dependence on human learnedness that may be the problem. It seems that we have returned to the era, which in Judges 21:25, is described as “when men did that which was right in their own eyes”. This is the era, when the voice of the Holy Spirit is being silenced, spiritual authority is being abandoned, and rationalisation, liberal reasoning and political correctness are replacing every revealed truth.
This is the era, where there is an intentional desire and moves to restrict the freedom of God’s presence in all our enterprises, with the rigid separation of the secular from the spiritual with no meeting point for both.
The Holy Spirit can be quenched in many ways. One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the truth. The Holy Spirit is quenched, when we close our minds to the truth of God, as revealed by Him in His word, and all things sacred are distorted, and the truth about God is exchanged for a lie. The Holy Spirit is quenched, when the creature rather than the Creator is worshipped and served (Romans 1:25). In addition, when the will of God made known and revealed through the prophetic Word of God is undermined, when God is not given full rein in our lives, when His leading is stifled, when we do not allow His will to prevail and take preeminence in all that we do, as we over assert ourselves.
After all, Jesus taught us to pray that the Lord’s will be done in our lives. The Sacred fire of the Spirit is quenched, when we do not walk in God’s way, on God’s path, not giving Him the opportunity to use us to reach those around us, to touch, to heal, to deliver and to bless them through us. However, the scary part is that not only can we quench the workings of the Spirit in ourselves, we can also quench it in others and they canquench it in us. While people are required to be submissive to their leaders, manipulative and domineering ones can impose their will on others to the point of quenching the Spirit in them. That way, the people are not able to respond to the voice of truth, as they lose all sense of reasoning and their potential and abilities to respond to the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God can be quenched in people, when they fear man rather than God, and so heed man’s directives rather than God’s.
Paul again in Ephesians 4:30 warns: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God”. Grieve means to cause pain, or to hurt. We can grieve or hurt in many ways. The Holy Spirit is grieved, when we yield to worldly motives rather than godly motives, when we rigidly hold on to our own agenda instead of yielding to God’s agenda and explicit direction. The Holy Spirit is grieved, when we become self-indulgent, which the Bible describes as becoming the “lover of self” and are controlled by prejudiced and vengeful spirit. The Spirit of God is grieved by procrastination, putting off until tomorrow the good that we can and ought to do today, and laying off temporarily or permanently spiritual or scriptural directives for selfish reasons. We grieve the Spirit, when we live disconnected from God, and we do not respond to His promptings both subtle and overt and not allow God to manifest Himself in ways of His own choosing. The sum total is that the indwelling Holy Spirit is affected by our negative attitudes and behaviour, as we make choices that can hurt or cause pain to another.
Quenching and Grieving the Spirit is not a single act, but a combination of events, which when prolonged, could result in the permanent drowning of the Spirit’s voice and the replacement with our own voice and our own passions. The Spirit of God is freely given. It is available for all. It cannot be purchased like Simeon wanted to in the Bible. David’s most significant prayer found in Psalm 25:4 says: “Lord show me your way, teach me your path”. With all these in mind, we need to make the decisions not be the one to pour cold water on the workings of the Holy Spirit. In all collective, those in position of power need to create an environment, where the Spirit and power of God can thrive and be demonstrated not through emotionalism, but in the true presence and manifestation of God’s Spirit. My personal response to all this is: “Lord, help me to keep your Spirit alive within me and in others”. Amen.