1 Thessalonians 5:19
Quench not the Spirit.
This verse is often misread. The context shows that it does not refer to the resistance of the sinner to the striving of the Holy Spirit in his heart. For the words immediately following, "despise not prophesyings," indicate its reference to the work of the Spirit in inspiring utterances in the Church. Some prosaic, cautious people were inclined to check these enthusiastic utterances. Perhaps there were foolish would-be prophets who were making themselves and the Church ridiculous by their predictions about the second coming of Christ, a subject in which the Church at Thessalonica was then deeply interested. St. Paul does not wish his readers to accept all that is offered to them, for he says, "Prove all things." But he fears lest, in the rejection of imposture, pretence, illusion, and misguided fanaticism, genuine teachings of the Divine Spirit should be discarded. Therefore he warns his readers against the danger of quenching the Spirit.
I. THERE IS A FIRE OF THE SPIRIT. It is fire that is not to be quenched. In Old Testament times a prophet was fitted for his mission by having a live coal from off the altar laid upon his lips (Isaiah 6:6). Christ, who came to baptize with the Holy Ghost, came also to baptize with fire. The Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost under the form of tongues of flame. God's Spirit deepens feeling, kindles enthusiasm, rouses sacred passion, sets the soul aflame with love. He who has not felt the fire knows nut some of the strongest working of the Spirit, as the psalmist knew it when he said, "While I was musing the fire burned" (Psalm 39:3).
II. THERE IS A DANGER LEST WE SHOULD QUENCH THE SPIRIT.
1. In our own hearts. If we check our more generous emotions, and harden ourselves with maxims of the world, and so immerse ourselves in grinding business cares that we have no thought or heart left for spiritual feelings, we shall quench the Spirit in ourselves. For us there will be no revelation. To us heaven will be black as midnight, silent as the grave. No warmth of devotion nor flash of spiritual perception will brighten up the dull and dreary chambers of our souls.
2. In others. Beware of checking young enthusiasm. It may err; but it had better err than die. Middle-aged common sense may not understand it. But this may not be the fault of young enthusiasm. It may result from the deadened perceptions of an unsympathizing mind. If we cannot follow, at least let us not check an inspiration which may be too high for our low sunken lives.
3. In Scripture. Absolutely, of course, we cannot quench the Spirit in Scripture. The Book remains, whatever we may think of it. But to ourselves we may quench the Spirit. A dry, hard critical examination of the Bible, ignoring all devotional, practical, and spiritual uses of it, will rob it of all inspiration for the reader. With some the fires are burnt out; they only grope among the ashes, and cannot find. a lingering spark. To such people the Bible is the most dreary book in the world. In order that the fire of inspiration should touch us, the fire of love and faith must be kept alive on the altar of our hearts. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Quench not the Spirit.