Do Not Quench the Spirit
Do Not Quench the Spirit
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
I want you to know I had my sermon finished in record time this week. I usually plan messages out weeks in advance, there may be some tweaks to the schedule, but it generally works. I start on the next week’s message on Thursday. So last Thursday I started looking at today’s message. I had a text. It came together very easily and quickly. That probably should have been a sign something was off! On Monday I wrote the entirety in a brief period of time; but even as I got done I didn’t feel it was quite right.
That evening I read a book and felt I needed to change my entire sermon. I didn’t feel it was what we needed to talk about right now. The passage that weighed heavy on me was 1 Thess 5:19 “Do not quench the Spirit.”
We are talking about igniting the work of God in our lives. We are in a time of prayer and fasting. We are praying for God to ignite a work in our church. We want him to work in us. And as we pray for that we have to ask, “Am I quenching the spirit.” Am I snuffing out what God is trying to ignite.
I believe change in the church and in our lives only happens through prayer and repentance. Repentance is a forgotten word in many churches. I think igniting change involves those things. And I want to fan that into flame. The opposite of that is to quench the spirit of God.
We are looking at a passage today that the church is told to not quench the Spirit. We are reading 1 Thess 5:16-24. It is a series of short commands.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 ESV)
Some short staccato instructions for Christian living. He speaks to the idle, the timid, the weak. In these few verses there are over eight commands given. Short statements of what to do or not do. The goal is that we be found blameless at the coming of our Lord.
Do not quench the spirit. Do not put out the Spirit's flame in your life. Churches should be gatherings that we are seeking to fan this, blow into it.
What it means to quench the spirit. It means to stuff out. We hear about a thirst being quenched. A quenched thirst is a good thing. Quench means to cool suddenly by plunging into a liquid. White hot steel is quenched by immersing into water. But the Spirit of God is the white hot Spirit of sanctification. It yearns jealously for the light of the gospel to burn brightly in us. And we can put it out. Suffocate. Cool it by putting into water.
The greek word is put out, extinguish, burning in the temple. "Fire must be kept burning on the altar continually; it must not go out. (Lev 6:13 CSB). Quench life: of killing, putting out the life of another, 2 Sam 14:7. Here he is writing to a church in which the spirit has gone out. It has died. And it has died because of the posture of their hearts and minds. There is no more heat, light, fervency.
It brings sobering reality that Christians are living with the Spirit of God snuffed out. They are to be the light of the world. But instead of being a candle that is lighting a room they are a simmering wick giving no light and filling the room with smoke. Not hot, not cold. Jesus says people like that he will spew out of his mouth. The Spirit God gave us for life, vitality, strength, guidance, we suffocate, extinguish, and are left like a dead body without its spirit.
How do we quench the spirit? The work of Jesus changes the way we think, live, act. It changes what we are passionate about. These short commands are not completely distinct from each other. I think they are like concentric and overlapping points and understanding the others helps us understand quenching the Spirit.
V18 Give thanks in all circumstances highlights gratefulness for God’s gracious acts in all of life. A thankful spirit does not come naturally. Entitlement.
Think about the hardest thing in your life. Give thanks for it. That is what that verse means. God is going to use it in some way in your life. The gospel changes everything. Even the worst problem in life, which I would say is death, is transformed by the gospel. It's not the end but a new beginning.
V16 Rejoice always. Christian joy is not bound by circumstances or hindered by difficulties. No time you should not be rejoicing. Often times in the New Testament joy is coupled with sorrow or suffering. “In all my struggles my joy knows no bounds. Jesus gives us peace. In him we know love. Joy is the overflow of peace and love.
Opposite of rejoicing is whining, complaining, being bitter. Bitterness is a cancer that gets into your life and takes over if you are not tending it. If you are not actively fighting against bitterness it is taking root in your life.
Are you quenching the Spirit by refusing to give God glory, praise, or thanks. Do you think you have a better plan than God?
Hold fast good . a) hold fast, keep in possession, possess . Keep it in mind. Here transitively: 3) intransitively, as a nautical technical term hold one's course toward, head for, steer for (AC 27.40
There is a resolve in the Christian life. If God calls you to do something be resolved in doing it. Don’t let following God be like the new years resolution to exercise more this year.
There is a two fold, reciprocating action here that we hold on to one thing and let go of another.
Abstain: to be distant. To keep away. “For this is God's will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, (1Th 4:3 CSB). Keep away from the act of it. But keep it away from us. Don’t let it in your sight. It's coming into our phones and computers because we are not holding fast to God’s commands.
It's not that we don't want to do God’s will. It's not that we don't think community is a good idea. We just can't do it right now. It's not that Bible study isn’t good, but this isn’t the season. It wasn’t a big lie. Small sins add up to big sins.
What are we allowing to define ourselves in life? Do you complain about your circumstances because you are no longer allowing the gospel to define you. You are allowing your circumstances to define you. Ministry not going the way you want, and you are upset. Your circumstances, surroundings are greater than God.
Do not despise prophecies. A very strong word that means to act as if the thing in question means nothing.
Some think it means the believers in Thessalonica were so worried about the misuse of charismatic gifts that they allowed none at all. Just the opposite of Corinth.
Some think it is the prophetic element of preaching. Interpretation made suitable to present use.
Some think it is about the Bible. It certainly is used of Scripture as the authoritative word of God. Rev 1:3 uses it in regards the book and New Testameny canon, and entire Scripture.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, (Rev 1:3 ESV) also 22:19
Some think regards specific words or directions given to Timothy.
I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, (1Ti 1:18 CSB) also 1 Tim 4:14
Despising prophecies. (2) as making something or someone as of no account disregard, reject, despise (1TH 5.20). It means ignoring God direction for you. He calls you to do something and you reject it. You read the Bible and walk away unchanged.
We ignore junk mail. Get it, look at it, ignore it. It means nothing. The voice of God can become nothing more than another junk mail letter. Hear it and disregard it. We reject God’s promptings and leadings in our life. We neglect or ignore the Bible message by not doing what it says.
Jeremiah, a fire in his bones. But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jer 20:9 NIV)
Do we have that passions, that burden to follow God?
Do you leave church, Bible study saying I need to do …Maybe you are already doing everything. But Scripture would say that is not the case. Then it seems ignoring the message is what just happened.
James talks about being in the word like a man who looks at himself in a mirror (James 1:23-24). I guarantee everyone of you walks by a mirror and makes some kind of alteration. Do you do it with God’s word? Or do you think it is other people that need it. Do you extinguish the spirit in your life?
A mentor said every sermon he listened to he would write down one thing he needed to do after hearing that word. He said he did this all the time because he didn’t want to get in the habit of only being a hearer and not a doer. He always wrote it down so he could look at the rest of the week. Do we have that kind of resolve. God speaks to us through his word, and we are quenching his work by ignoring it.
Are we pursuing God or are we content to look like the culture around us. We have been talking about some habits that we need to regain in order to honor Christ. We want to be living lives of consistently:
reading, praying, doing God’s word.
participating in life with believers.
inviting people to know Jesus.
giving financially to the cause.
We have talked for several weeks on this. What is your progress.
I think quenching the spirit, despising prophecies, not holding on to the good can very often look like simple indifference. We may think it means we are going around with a fist raised against God, but that is not what it is here. He is addressing a church. People gathered at church who are quenching the spirit. I think that for those still in the church quenching the Spirit looks like indifference. We are not against God, but it's just not that important. It's not that big a deal.
We need to repent where we have quenched the Spirit. The way to turn from indifference is repentance. The thirst of the Spirit is suppressed when he is rejected, when his convicting power, righteousness, and judgment are ignored. We douse the Spirit's influence in our life through doubt, we drench him with anger, we drown his power with immorality. Stiff arm. Hard heart deflects conviction like a bulletproof vest.
I also want to stir us to see the power of the Spirit. Often we quench the spirit because we have a better plan. We trade the power, wisdom, and glory of God for our wisdom, power, glory. That is trading the infinite for the finite. The limitless for the severely limited. I can't even figure out what to preach on next week. God knows the beginning from the end. 1000 days are like a day.
What is it like to see the Spirit of God come in full vigor on people.
The spirit was hovering over the waters when God began shaping and filling the word.
God breathed spirit in the man and he became a living being.
The spirit came upon Othniel, Gideon, Sampson in Judges and they went out and defeated their enemies.
The spirit enable Bezalele and Oholiab to make works of gold, bronze and silver.
The Spirit comes on Peter and speaks powerfully to multitudes.
The spirit comes upon on the early church and they go from a few to five thousand in a a short period of time.
The spirit comes upon Ezekiel and dead dry bones come to life as a powerful army.
The spirit enables God’s people to do God will and work in the manner God calls them to do it.
This empowering spirit is what he gives to accomplish his mission, but we don't trust and follow it. God gives us his spirit because we need it. We have nothing without it. It moves us to do his work. It’s foolish to go without it.
This verse is a caution against dousing water on the fire of God’s Spirit: Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. This can happen in any heart when the Holy Spirit is stifled, allowing thoughts or actions which are contrary to the character or practices of God. It shows that more important than being at church is what is going on in your heart. You can be here every Sunday and dead to the call of God.
Examine where God is bringing repentance to you and follow through with it. A church that is not repenting is a stagnant church, because you are saying there is nowhere we need to change. A christian who is not repenting is a stagnant, spirit quenched Christian. A marriage that is not repenting is a stagnant marriage.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, (2Ti 1:6 ESV)