“Do not quench the Spirit“
Paul transitions from individual responsibility to corporate worship with verse 19. God reveals His will to the church as well as to the individual. We can squelch the public movement of the Holy Spirit. Five commands about life in the assembly follow.
Do not quench the Spirit
The Bible commonly portrays the Holy Spirit like a flame. The idea of “quench” carries the idea of putting out a light of a torch, lamp, or fire (Matthew 12:20; 25:8; Hebrews 11:34). Paul uses “quench” metaphorically to speak of hindering the operations of the Holy Spirit. People who refuse to submit to the teaching of the Word “quench” the Spirit. Those who usurp the Spirit’s ministry in the local church throw cold water on God’s work in the congregation.
The Bible portrays the Holy Spirit as both heat and light. As heat, He impresses the reality of God upon the believer. As light, He reveals who God is to the believer. Some Christians blow out the flame of the Spirit in their lives. They do this by not yielding to the conviction of the Spirit about their sin and by accommodating sin.
The Greek indicates that the Thessalonians were to stop something they were already doing. In essence, “stop stifling the Spirit.”
Rebellion in the local church against its leadership quenches the Spirit’s ministry in that church.
A believer can extinguish the work of the Spirit in the church. Every local church has those who try to stifle the ministry. Some do this by opposing leadership. Others do it by indifference to leadership and thus lull themselves and others to sleep. Whatever means they may use, the result is that they extinguish the fire of the Spirit.
A dynamic move of God’s Spirit may be perceived as a threat to some people in the church. Lacking understanding, they will reject any proposal outside their comfort zone.
Christians need to be careful about limiting the ministry of the Spirit in the local assembly. To put out the flame of a manifestation of the Spirit is to interfere with what God is doing. Either we yield to the work of the Spirit, or we extinguish His work. Those are the alternatives. We can grieve the Spirit as well as quenching the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).
If you are hindering your local church’s work, you may be suppressing what the Spirit is doing. Do you take a negative position on most things? Are you on the negative side of every positive issue and the positive side of every negative issue? It is incumbent upon Spirit-filled believers to be on the side of the ministry of the Spirit in the local church.
We must be careful not to stifle the Spirit of God in our church. When we do this, we are spiritual anarchists against the work of God in our church.
“But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; So He turned Himself against them as an enemy, And He fought against them” (Isaiah 63:10).