Chapter 8- Our Response to the Spirit of God
“Okay. Okay. I’m convinced that I can have a relationship to the Spirit of God. I can speak with Him. I can pray to Him. I can worship Him,” my friend Brenda said after reading this short book. “But I want to treat Him with the reverence and love which He deserves. How do I do that?” “I’m so glad you asked,” I said. “Read on!”
Do Not Quench the Spirit!
We are asking in this book, how are we to relate to the Third Person of the Trinity? Some believers overemphasize Him while others overlook Him. Wanting a balanced view of the Third Member of the Trinity, we continue our study by asking, what does it mean to “quench” the Holy Spirit? We read in I Thessalonians 5:19 — “Do not quench the Spirit.” (NIV) Other translations of this verse put it a bit differently: The NET Bible has “Do not extinguish the Spirit.” The Living Bible says, “Do not smother the Holy Spirit.” The CSB renders this verse as: “Don’t stifle the Spirit.” The CEB says, “Don’t suppress the Spirit” while the ICB has “Do not stop the work of the Holy Spirit.”
So, we are not to extinguish or smother the Holy Spirit. We can somehow stifle Him or suppress Him, stopping His work in and through us. The context of I Thessalonians 5:19 mentions prophesying and the Phillips’ translation renders the text as: Never damp the fire of the Spirit, and never despise what is spoken in the name of the Lord. By all means use your judgement, and hold on to whatever is really good, Steer clear of evil in any form. The Message says: Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.
So — what does it mean to QUENCH the Spirit of God? 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. Christ described hell as a place where the fire would not be “quenched” (Mark 9:44, 46, 48). Likewise, the Holy Spirit is a fire dwelling in each believer. He wants to express Himself in our actions and attitudes. When believers do not allow the Spirit to be seen in our actions, when we do what we know is wrong, we suppress or quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We do not allow the Spirit to reveal Himself the way that He wants to.
The Challenge: How might you be quenching the Spirit of God’s fire in your life? Confess that — and ask Him to continue His good work in you.
Here’s a bonus summary of an article on this issue:
“Seven Ways We Quench the Holy Spirit” (Sam Storms)
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.
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.
3. We quench the Spirit whenever we suppress or legislate against his work of imparting spiritual gifts and ministering to the church through them.
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.
5. We quench the Spirit whenever we despise prophetic utterances (1 Thessalonians 5:20).
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 (Romans 8:15–16; Galatians 4:4–7).
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.
Don’t Grieve the Spirit of God
One of my seminary students wrote a paper on “The Lost Art of Lament.” She made the case that we have virtually forgotten how to grieve over our sins. Isn’t it true that our prayers are often skeleton supplications for God to bless us? When we worship or adore God in prayer, have we skipped lament? We ought to grieve over our sins, but do we ever grieve the Spirit of God?
We are not to GRIEVE Him. We read in Ephesians 4:30 — “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
There are actually quite a few verses in the Bible about grieving.
Gen 6:5-6- 5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (KJV)
Genesis 18:20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous . . .”
Deuteronomy 34:8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
1 Samuel 20:34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.
2 Samuel 1:26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
Job 30:25 Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
Psalm 78:40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the wasteland!
Isaiah 63:10 Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.
John 16:20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 [ Believers Who Have Died ] Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
Here are my observations about GRIEF in the Scriptures:
1. GOD grieves! God is “grieved at his heart” that he had made man (Gen. 6:6).
2. God grieves at the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah (“their sin so grievous”) (Gen. 18:20).
3. People grieve for other people in the Bible (the Israelites for Moses [Dt. 34:8], Jonathan’s grief at his father’s shameful treatment of David [I Sam. 20:34], David’s grief at Jonathan’s death [2 Sam. 1:26], etc.).
4. Job defends himself as grieving for the poor and weeping for those in trouble (Job 30:25).
5. We are told very specifically that Israel rebelled against God and “grieved him in the wasteland” (Ps. 78:40).
6. In the Old Testament we learn that the Israelites “rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them” (Is. 63:10).
7. We are to forgive others whatever grievance we have against them (Col. 3:13).
8. Jesus says that there will be both weeping and rejoicing: “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (Jn. 16:20).
9. Lastly, we are to grieve at the death of those we love, but we are told, “you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (I Thes. 4:13).
Conclusion: We can — and often do — grieve God the Holy Spirit. Grieving our and other’s sins is right and good. But we must recognize that because He is a Person, the Spirit of God can be grieved by our unbelief and rebellion. Anything you need to apologize to the Holy Spirit for?
We Must Pray in the Spirit
Apart from the many ministries that the Holy Spirit has in the believer’s life, we need to consider how we respond to Him. We’ve seen that we are to neither quench nor grieve the Spirit of God.
But what positive action can we take toward the Spirit? There is a fascinating command in the one-chapter epistle of Jude where he writes, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit . . .” (Jude 1:20)
What in the world does it mean to “pray in the Holy Spirit”? This expression is used only one other time in Scripture and that is in Ephesians 6:18 where we read,
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Does “praying in the Spirit” refer to the exercise of some supernatural, unlearned language? Some in the charismatic movement refer to “heavenly babbling,” the speaking “in other tongues.” However, when we examine the speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples spoke in known dialects so that the gospel could be understood by people from various backgrounds.
There is nothing in the context of Jude 1 or of Ephesians 6 that would indicate that other-worldly languages are being referred to by the expression “praying in the Holy Spirit” or “pray in the Spirit.” May I suggest a rather mundane, but hopefully accurate view of this practice and that would be — We should pray in accordance with the Spirit’s ministries. In other words, in Jude the challenge is to stand strong for the gospel. To build ourselves up in our most holy faith involves praying that the Holy Spirit would have His way in our lives, that we would listen to His promptings, that we would obey His teaching of God’s truth. In Ephesians our praying in the Spirit concerns others — We are to pray “in the Spirit” on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. This involves being alert and consistent in praying for all the Lord’s people.
Conclusion: We pray in the Spirit when we are aware of His works in our lives and we ask His help in doing our work for God. The self-work we do is to strengthen ourselves in God’s truth. The others-work we do is to intercede for God’s people.
The Challenge: Are you praying in the Holy Spirit? Take one of His ministries to you and ask Him to help you co-operate with His work in your life!
1. What does it mean to “quench” the Spirit of God? In what ways might a believer do that?
2. Is there a place for the Christian to apologize to God the Holy Spirit for grieving Him? Write out a sample prayer of such an apology.
3. How do we practically “pray in the Holy Spirit”? What clues do we have from the epistle of Jude on this question?