When we think of the word quench, we usually think of thirst. And when we think of this word, usually it is in a positive sense. It’s root meaning is to extinguish, like thirst or fire. Those are good things to put down. Yet, the things we put down, or quench, are not always bad things. We can quench love in a relationship by continual demands and ill treatment. Peers can quench upright living by making fun and pressuring us into doing what they do. And Paul states that we can quench the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. In the context of the passage, Paul is saying not to subvert the control of the Spirit in our lives by acting in the flesh. He commands believers just before not to get drunk. This all makes sense when we think of someone who gets a DUI—Driving Under the Influence.
In the believer, the Holy Spirit is to have the primary influence over all other influences, such as peers and culture. When I look across the cultural milieu of the American Church, the question naturally arises: Are we Christians quenching the Holy Spirit in our lives?
To answer that, first we must look at the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus told his disciples that the Spirit would teach them all things and remind them of everything he had said during his earthly life. (John 14:26) The “all things” is likely everything that followed in writing—Acts-Revelation, as well a fuller understanding of the Old Testament in light of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. The Lord also told them that when faced with opposition and imprisonment, the Spirit would bring to mind the words to say in witness to their persecutors. (Matthew 10:18-20)
The Holy Spirit is also our advocate through prayer (Romans 8:26) before the throne of God. Even if we don’t know how in which to pray, he does. Finally, it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that our lives our transformed into who God created us to be. That transformation is demonstrated through the gifts given us (I Corinthians 12:7-11, 27-28; Romans 12:4-8) in order to participate in the furtherance of his Kingdom and by the fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) borne in our lives, which, as Jesus alludes, is the evidence of our relationship with him. (Matthew 7:16-20)
Put all of these things together and it is evident that those who have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them and are continually filled by him will stand out as radically different from the rest of the world. So back to the question I proposed: Is there overwhelming evidence that those claiming to be Christians in our nation are radically different from the rest of our fellow citizens?
It is my broad conclusion that we have a majority who do not have the Holy Spirit because their allegiance is focused on going to church and trying to be a good person; in essence seeking to bypass Jesus truly being Savior and Lord of their lives, or who continually quench the work the Holy Spirit seeks to do in their lives. The evidence is in the fruit one can easily observe being produced. A good read of the New Testament will confirm this. A casual observation of most local churches will confirm this. A scant review of social media posts by folks proclaiming to be Christians will confirm this.
Let me just say, I recognize the log in my own eye. I have been guilty many times over of what I am postulating here. One of the great gifts of my life has been the past two years of heartache and hardship. Those early months of the pandemic allowed much time for personal reflection and interaction with God’s Word. I acknowledge I have been guilty of quenching the Spirit in my own life, which has negatively impacted others directly and often negated the power of my witness.
The reality is, I think, that if we are to be effective in our witness to those around us, we must allow the Holy Spirit to do his work in us instead of quenching it. Thus, I want to spend the next few posts focusing on what the Scriptures have to teach us regarding how to do this. I think it can be a learning time for each of us. And, hopefully, we can begin to allow the Spirit to be the main influencer in our lives rather than so many other things, and, thus, to be powerful influencers in leading others into the abundant life Jesus promised.
Until the next post. . .
© Jim Musser 2020