As we learn to discern and walk in peace with fellow believers in the community of faith, as we see the difference between good and evil and respond instead of react to evil around us, we have been given a series of short specific commands that will help us along in our pursuit of holiness and pleasing God. Those commands are given in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22, which we started to examine yesterday and will be continuing to look at the next two days.
So far we have seen that as we practice discernment and work to keep the peace within the church, we are commanded and empowered by grace to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything. In fact, as we learned yesterday, if we are doing these things then we are doing the will of God!
So what else do these verses tell us about living the Christian life successfully?
Do Not Quench the Spirit: We are commanded to “not quench the Spirit”. As we will see, today’s and tomorrow’s posts are closely tied together as the next several verses tell us how we quench the Spirit, but before we get to those specifics let us look at our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, truly and completely God, is described to us as the Comforter. We also know that He is the One who calls us to life from the dead when we are born again. He is the seal of our salvation. He convicts us of sin, convinces us of truth, and empowers us to live the Christian life. And He indwells us.
It is not Jesus that we ask to live in our hearts, you know! When we repent of our sin and place our faith in Christ we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He lives in us and through us, bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God, and enables us to cry out, “Abba, Father” when we approach God with humility and love.
Where would we be without the Holy Spirit? Lost. Alone. Hopeless! But beyond Who the Holy Spirit is and what He does for us, we must approach this passage and ask a question – why is it that we are to not quench the Holy Spirit?
The word “quench” means to choke or confine and so to quench the Spirit is to work to prevent Him from doing what He is doing in our lives. Whether it be running from the conviction of sin or refusing to listen to a warning from our conscience we must be careful not to attempt to refute what He leads us to do and empowers us to be. In fact, in order to learn how not to quench the Spirit we need to see how we are supposed to respond to Him in our daily walk. Let us look then at 3 verses that tell us how we are to relate to the Spirit.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30) We must not quench the Spirit, and neither should we grieve Him.
Were you aware that God could be grieved? We know that Jesus wept. And we see illustrations of the emotions of God throughout the Scripture as He is angry, forgives, shows mercy, has compassion, loves, and judges. Not that He is moody, but He is a rational Being and He can be grieved by His people’s sin. In this context, to grieve Him is to refuse to abandon our sin and embrace righteousness. When we hold on to our sin and fail to respond immediately to the convicting power of the Spirit we grieve Him.
We further grieve Him when we sin against others within the Body. It is after all the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that we are to uphold at all times in the fellowship (Ephesians 4:1-6). And to cause division, to sin without remorse, to neglect repentance – all of these grieve God. So as we strive to please Him and be at peace with one another we must learn to discern what does and does not grieve the Spirit – and just as we would not intentionally do something to hurt the ones we love, neither should we intentionally grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) Just as we are not to be intoxicated (controlled by a substance such as drugs or alcohol) we are to see that it is the Spirit who controls us. We must not yield control of our bodies or our lives to those things that will harm us, but instead we must be controlled by Spirit.
This “under the influence” so to speak is in reality a willful surrender, a yielding of ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He might lead us and protect us and walk with us through whatever we face day to day. To be filled in fact means just that, to be controlled by Him. Are we controlled by the Holy Spirit of God? We know and confess that Jesus is Lord, but do we live under the control of the Holy Spirit or are we continually wrestling Him for control? He is Lord. He has bought us. Live like it!
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) What a powerful and oft neglected verse this is. Are you struggling with sin and temptation? Are you losing the battle? Does it seem that you just cannot get free from your sin, as though it owns you and controls you and won’t let you go? Learn to walk in the Spirit!
The promise is this, if we walk in the Spirit then we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. To walk in the Spirit then must be a priority, right? But how many people know what it means to walk in the Spirit?
It is not complicated. It is not some mystical charismatic thing reserved only for the super spiritual in our midst who receive a special endowment or so-called second blessing. No. It is as simple as living life according to the Word of God. To walk in the Spirit is described in terms of a continuous progressive action. And in its most basic form this is a reference to actively and continually responding in obedience the commands of Scripture.
Do you obey the Word of God? To obey the Word is to walk in the Spirit! To do what He has told us to do and to not do what He has told us not to do. It is not complicated. This verse tells us plainly that if we obey the Word of God then we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
So today, are you grieving the Spirit or are you filled with (controlled by) and walking in (obeying the Word) the Spirit? He is here, indwelling us, motivating us, empowering us, enabling us to do all that God commands and expects.
So here is where you have a choice – what will you do with the Holy Spirit today?