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1 Thessalonians 5:19,20: Do Not Quench The Spirit

The command, “Do not quench the Spirit” seems to be intended for everyone who was a part of the Thessalonian church. It seems they were doing something to “quench the Spirit” in the church. Paul is telling them to stop doing something they have already been doing.

The word translated “quench” in Greek is sbennumi meaning to quench or extinguish as one does to a flame. Figuratively, as it is used in this verse, it means to dampen, stifle, hinder, or repress the power or energy of the Holy Spirit, to prevent the Spirit from exerting His effect or performing His work in the believer.

“Quench” or to extinguish generally refers to putting out a literal fire. You might douse a flame with water or you might extinguish it by covering a fire to take away the oxygen so the fire can’t breathe. You normally don’t quench a fire by accident. The fire goes out because someone either lets it burn out or takes steps to put it out. This suggests that the Holy Spirit naturally burns within us unless we do something to put out the Spirit’s fire.

This command could be paraphrased something like this...”Stop putting out the fire of the Holy Spirit. Stop hindering and repressing the Holy Spirit, for in so doing you are preventing Him from exerting His full influence!”

Another verse that speaks of our relationship with the power of the Holy Spirit is Ephesians 4:30, “…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

When the word “quench” is used in Scripture, it is speaking of suppressing fire. When believers put on the shield of faith, as part of their armor of God (Ephesians 6:16), they are extinguishing the power of the fiery darts from Satan. When believers do not allow the Spirit to control our actions, when we do what we know is wrong, we suppress, quench or grieve the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist said, “He, (Jesus) will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out (Matthew 3:11 MSG). The Spirit is a holy fire, do not pour cold water on those who are demonstrating His power. Do not prevent the Holy Spirit from doing His work in believers.

“It may be concluded that quenching the Holy Spirit is to suppress, stifle, or otherwise obstruct the ministry of the Spirit to the individual. In a word it is saying, ‘No’ and replacing the will of the Spirit with the will of the individual.”–John Walvoord

“Do you know what it means to quench the Holy Spirit? What do you do when you quench your thirst? You drink some water and the thirst is put away. When you quench a fire, you put it out—you smother it. How do you quench the Spirit of God? You quench the Holy Spirit by not doing something He tells you to do. When you walk in the Spirit and are filled with the Spirit, you don’t want to quench Him. When He tells you to do something, you do it.” – David Jeremiah

“We quench the Spirit when we choose to sin, we quench the Spirit when we allow other things to take over our thoughts that should not, we quench the Spirit when we have a harsh attitude, we quench the Spirit when we are not willing to go along with God. But the main thought here would seem to be quenching the Spirit by being over-critical and by unwillingness to hear those who proclaim the truth, by formalism and possibly by being unwilling to discern the Spirit at work through unexpected sources.” –Peter Pett

“The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze—so gentle that unless you are living in complete fellowship and oneness with God, you will never hear it. The sense of warning and restraint that the Spirit gives comes to us in the most amazingly gentle ways. And if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice, you will quench it, and your spiritual life will be impaired. This sense of restraint will always come as a ‘still small voice’ (1 Kings 19:12), so faint that no one except a saint of God will notice it.” –Oswald Chambers

However, before you can “quench” or “grieve” the Spirit, you must have the Spirit! “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9). When you accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, you are born again (John 3:5-7) and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…” (1 John 5:1). Jesus said: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14,16,17).

Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” The same power that led the children of Israel by pillar of fire and smoke through the wilderness; the same power that filled the Tabernacle and Temple; the same power that sat in tongues of fire on the disciples of Pentecost; the same power that filled the Apostles; and the same power that filled the great preachers of history; that same power is still available to every believer today! God has not changed, His word has not changed. The Holy Spirit is still the Holy Spirit of power. So it is not just receiving the Holy Spirit at salvation, it is allowing Him to empower our lives. It is the filling “…be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18). This command is in the present tense, “keep on being filled!”

As I read the lives of Charles Finney, C.H. Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, Hudson Taylor, David Whitefield, David Brainard, Charles and John Wesley, Jonathon Edwards, Billy Sunday, and the great preachers of the past, I find they were willing to spend and be spent. They abandoned themselves to God with desperation, and with a burning passion for God's fullness on their lives. Nothing was more important to them! Theirs was a passion to experience the power of God personally, so that everything and everyone they touched was touched by God Himself!

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?

•To be dominated by the things if God, having our live saturated with His word. (Colossians 3:16).

•It is to rest so completely in the Lord, that we will be carried along through life like a piece of driftwood on the water. Simply trusting in Him.

•To yield to Christ all authority for our lives. He loves us so much He is not going to let anything happen to us that's not good for Him.

•It is simply practicing His presence, living our lives knowing that Christ’s Spirit lives in us. 2 Corinthians 3:5: “Do you not know that Christ is in you?” Galatians 2:20: “Christ lives in me.” Ephesians 3:17: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” Colossians 1:27: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 1 John 4:4: “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

•It is Hudson Taylor's spiritual secret: Christ's life and mine are fused together, when you see me you see Christ.

What do Spirit-filled believers look like? –A.W. Tozer

•They know the sudden brilliant consciousness of the actual presence of the living God. It was as if a cloud had been rolled back and a city of God, before unsuspected and unseen, now suddenly became visible before their eyes.

•The actually received the joy of the Holy Ghost.

•There was striking power in their words. When they spoke people listened. (Acts 2:37).

•There was suddenly a clear sense of reality of all things. Throughout the Gospels they were asking questions: "When shall it be?" "Lord, how shall it be? "Lord, who?" Now they stand with authority! They now have answers.

•They took great delight in prayer and communion with God. Listen to Jesus just a short time before. Could you not watch with Me for one hour? They came to Him saying, Lord, teach us to pray. Now they are conducting prayer meetings.

•They loved the scriptures. Jesus quoted the Scriptures in the Gospels, the disciples in the book of Acts and the epistles. All of a sudden the Scripture was alive and powerful for them.

•There was a sharp separation between the believers and the world. When Spirit-filled believers become absolutely different from the world, the power of God becomes evident.

Look at our examples:

•Luke 1:15: Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit…from His mother's womb.

•Acts 2:4: The disciples of Pentecost were filled with the Spirit.

•Acts 4:31: Multitudes were filled with the Spirit and spoke the word with boldness.

•Acts 6:3: The first deacons were filled with the Spirit.

•Acts 6:5: Stephen was filled.

•Acts 11:24: Barnabus was filled.

•Acts 13:9: Paul was filled.

If they needed the filling of God’s Spirit, how do we dare think we can live a successful Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit filling us?

“Be filled is a command, which means I play a part in it. For example, I cannot be filled with the Spirit while I have unconfessed sin within me. I cannot be filled with the Spirit while at the same time conducting my life in the energy of the flesh. I cannot be filled with the Spirit while I am resisting God’s will and relying only on myself. I need to be sure that I have taken care of the sins that have emerged in my life, that I have not ignored the wrong that I have done before God and to others. I need to walk in conscious dependence on the Lord on a daily basis. Many a morning I begin my day by sitting on the side of the bed, saying: ‘This is your day, Lord. I want to be at Your disposal. I have no idea what these next twenty-four hours will contain. But before I sip my first cup of coffee, and even before I get dressed, I want You to know that from this moment on throughout this day, I’m Yours, Lord. Help me to lean on You, to draw strength from You, and to have You fill my mind and my thoughts. Take control of my senses so that I am literally filled with Your presence and empowered with Your energy. I want to be Your tool, Your vessel today. I can’t make it happen. And so I’m saying, Lord, fill me with Your Spirit today.’” –Charles Swindoll

“If we do not obey this command, we cannot obey any other—simply because we cannot do any of God’s will apart from God’s Spirit. Outside of the command for unbelievers to trust in Christ for salvation, there is no more practical and necessary command in Scripture than the one for believers to be filled with the Spirit.” –John MacArthur

How do I get this filling?

You must be certain you have desire to be filled. Many are not willing to pay the price! Are you willing to make Christ the very center of your life? Are you willing to have your life possessed by the Holy Spirit? Are you willing to give up that part of your life that would prevent you from having God's fullness? Are you willing to have a revival in your life that will change you and everyone within your sphere of influence? Are you willing to become more like Jesus, demonstrating Him to your world? Are you certain you want to become completely obedient to God and His word? Everyone has as much of God as he desires to have!

You will have to deal with self sins:

•Self-love will have to be replaced with meekness and humility and love for Christ.

•Self-confidence will have to be replaced with total confidence in God.

•Self-righteousness will have to be replaced by death to self.

•Self-indulgence (having your way, doing your own thing, insisting on your rights), will have to be replaced by, “I am not my own” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Is there anything in your life bigger or more important than your desire to be a Spirit-filled Christian? It will have to go! You will never be a Spirit-filled believer until you deal with it.

Here's the formula:

•Present yourself to God, a “living sacrifice.” God cannot fill what He does not possess (Romans 12:1).

•You must have the proper motive: to glorify God and His church, and to lift up Jesus and boast about Him (Ephesians 3:21).

•You muse have an insatiable desire for the power of God on your life (Matthew 5:6; Colossians 3:10).

•You must be willing to pay the price (1 Corinthians 6:19).

•There must be humble asking, In Luke 11:13: Jesus said: “How much more shall My Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask?”

Therefore, our prayer is: “God, I yield my life to the power of the Holy Spirit which is in me. I claim Your mighty power. I will lift up Jesus Christ and glorify You in all I do.” More simply put, “Lord, I want to give You me!”

Verse 20: “Do not despise prophecies.” (prophetic utterances). Stop treating the preaching of God’s word with contempt.

“Despise” is a strong verb which means to despise someone or something on the basis that it is worthless or of no value. To treat something or someone as of no account.

“Do not treat prophecies with contempt names a specific action whereby the Spirit may be quenched. I would add that the context is also a clue as to how the Spirit can be quenched! For example, if we fail to give thanks in everything (and instead grumble or complain or dispute), we certainly will quench the Spirit.” –Hiebert

“Prophecies” (prophetic utterances), are not fore-telling, but forth-telling, preaching, speaking forth the Word of God. This gift was given to the church by Christ Himself. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11,12).

Unfortunately, because of certain cultic tendencies in our day, we think of prophesying as some special power to predict the future either for ourselves individually or for the world at large. But prophesying was not that. Dr. F. F. Bruce, who is one of the great expositors of his day, says prophesying is “declaring the mind of God in the power of the Spirit.”

J. Vernon McGee applies this passage, writing that “believers today are not to look down upon Bible study as something that is beneath you. Do not be indifferent to the Word of God.”

“As an aside I spoke recently to the secretary in a local Bible church in which the leadership has made the decision that they want to avoid teaching too much doctrine! Paul would tell them stop looking with contempt on sound doctrine or perhaps he would say don't hypocritically call yourself a Bible church!” –Precept Austin

One of my professors used to tell of some churches that say: “We ain’t got no doctrine or no nothin’.” If you do not have strong doctrinal preaching, you have nothing!

“Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16).

There is a sickening wave of pathetic preaching sweeping through the contemporary church! We must preach with authority! Our authority is the word of God! We preachers deal with the most significant issues mortals will ever face, life, death, hope, destruction, eternal salvation, and eternal condemnation. Preaching is a demonstration of the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:4: “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”

2 Timothy 4:1-3, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…”

“Preach the Word!” That's the charge! That’s the priority, nothing supersedes that! Obedience to that command must be at the very heart of every truly biblical ministry.

“Fearless preaching is all the more necessary in dangerous times. When people will not tolerate the truth, that's when courageous, outspoken preachers are most desperately needed to speak it. Sound preaching confronts and rebukes sin, and people in love with sinful lifestyles will not tolerate such teaching. They want to have their ears tickled. Churches are so engrossed in trying to please non-Christians that they have forgotten their first duty is to please God.” –John MacArthur

If you are a Pastor, “Preach God's Word, in season and out of season," when it’s popular and when it’s unpopular! We have just one priority, to preach God's Word as it is to people as they are.

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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