“Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19 [NASB]
Throughout the Bible we read descriptors of God. Some passages speak of His omniscience. No one is more knowledgeable and can know all things happening at one time. God is omnipotent. No one and nothing can defeat Him. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere at one time. God is indescribable. No one word or many words can thoroughly describe God. God is uncontainable. Nothing can hold Him down or defeat Him. God is unquenchable. Nothing and no one can crush or suppress Him.
When reading 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, Paul imperatively taught the Thessalonians what to do or not do. Upon reading this list, you might think, “I can do this.” But when you stop to consider it closer, you realize two things: the list is long, and you are only human and won’t always do good. Paul, however, did not say or expect any person to do good from his or her own moral strength. Among the tasks in this list, he told the believers in Thessalonica how they were to do good, or rather, in whose strength they could live unquenchably. Paul recognized people are incapable of doing good on their own. He knew and taught the believers of Thessalonica that doing good all the time is impossible in a person’s own moral strength, but is choose-able and made possible through the Spirit’s insuppressible strength.
In the verses of this passage, as Paul neared the end of his letter to the church at Thessalonica, he taught how believers are to live. He gave a list of how to interact with people. Next, Paul gave a list of how to relate to and respond to God. He concluded this list with a general teaching that summed up each of these commands.
In the list of how to interact with people in verses twelve through fifteen, Paul told the believers to appreciate and esteem with great love God’s workers who have charge over them. Live peacefully with each other. Admonish the unruly. Encourage the fainthearted. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone. Don’t repay evil for evil, but always seek good for one another and all people. Verse fifteen’s command sums up the first seven commands.
In the next section of Paul’s imperative commands, given in verses sixteen through twenty-two, he told them how to relate to God. He said rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in everything. Don’t quench the Spirit. Don’t despise prophetic utterances. Though these five commands specifically pertain to a person’s relationship to God, the first seven commands from verses twelve through fifteen reflect a person’s relationship with God, too. A person cannot be related rightly to people all the time until he or she is related rightly to God all the time. It’s impossible within a person’s own moral strength to do these things. Only with God’s strength can a person be good all the time.
Because of the impossibility of a person relating rightly to people one hundred percent of the time, Paul made sure the people understood how they could “seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.” (vs. 15) His command of verse nineteen tells us how. Paul said, “Do not quench the Spirit.” This statement does not mean we can defeat and destroy the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is part of the triune Godhead and is omnipotent, remember. This statement also does not mean we can make Him smaller in stature or power. What Paul meant with this command is do not hear and disobey the Spirit as He seeks to lead you and keep you safe and helps you walk God’s “straight paths.” Don’t keep neglecting the relationship you have with God by ignoring His guidance and teaching. By doing these things, you quench the Spirit in your life. He will still exist and be near you, but you will have hardened your heart and won’t hear Him as He speaks in whispers to your spirit. Until you call upon God again, and seek Him with your whole being, the Spirit’s guidance in your life will be unheard by you. The Bible speaks of this in 2 Chronicles 6:37 and 7:14 and in James 4:10 and other passages.
If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 [NASB])
Each Christian must choose for him or herself to listen to and obey God through His Holy Spirit. Paul taught how we can make sure we stay tuned to the Holy Spirit in our lives with verses sixteen through twenty-two. He told them to rejoice at all times, pray without ceasing, give thanks in every circumstance, treat prophecies with regard, hold fast to what is good, and abstain from every kind of evil. Having this mind, this determination, we choose God over all else. This means we make sure He sits as our primary guide - the enthroned King of our life - and our reason for living. Hold fast to what is good. Only One person is good, God from whose character the word good receives its definition. Abstain from all evil. Evil is the opposite of God.
To live as a Christian requires an active choice every day not to quench the Spirit. Though He is indestructible by nature, we can choose to snuff Him out of our lives. When we do that, we don’t hold fast to what is good. God leaves this choice to every person every moment of every day.
Will you quench the unquenchable Spirit in your life?
Doing so doesn’t make Him smaller than you. It makes you vulnerable to evil. You are unable to withstand evil in your strength. Only by humbling yourself and choosing the Spirit to be active in your life can you do good all the time.
Lord God, I am so weak and fallible. Sometimes I demand to do what I want and close the door to You guiding me. I act like a two-yea- old when I am not and should know better by now. Lord, please forgive me for my stubbornness. Forgive me for ignoring and abandoning You. My refusal to listen to You does not change who You are, but it changes who I am. It removes the shine of Your glory from me and makes it unbearably possible for me to do evil. When I choose to refuse You, I am choosing evil, not good. Lord, shake me when I choose to go my own way and refuse to follow You. Get my attention until I must listen to You. Forgive me my stubbornness and willfulness. Forgive me my sins. Remind me of Your great love for me and extend Your mercy and grace to me again. Make me strong to stand against the temptation to do what I want. Instead, make my heart’s desire be to do Your will so I live to bring You glory by doing good and not evil. In Your name I pray. Amen.