1 Thessalonians 5:19
Quench not the Spirit.
There are three active elements in nature — air, water, fire; and one passive — earth. The Holy Spirit is spoken of under the figure of each of the former, never of the latter. The Holy Spirit is always in action. St. Paul is writing with evident reference to the promise, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." Perhaps he may have had regard to some special manifestations of the Spirit (see ver. 20). A man might feel within him a fire burning, which was meant for expression, and which he was tempted to suppress, through feelings of modesty, false shame, indolence, or indifference, and he was anxious to caution against this. And there is now a bad economy of Divine gifts; men possessing talents of property, position, influence, persuasion, knowledge, grace, lock up that which was intended for the whole house of Christ. This is quenching the Spirit. Personally, as the Divine Spirit, no efforts or negligences of man could lessen His power or glory; but as the Divine Inhabitant of the soul it is otherwise. Note the manner of His working. He acts on —
I. THE UNDERSTANDING. He spake to the understanding of prophets, psalmists, apostles, etc., and so we have in the Bible the truth brought home to our understandings. But the office of the Spirit is not bounded by that. The Word of God is in the hand of every one, till it has become an ill-used book by its very plentifulness; and to him who has not the Spirit to shine with the light of His holy fire within the printed page all is darkness. The letter killeth, the Spirit alone quickeneth. So, then, a man quenches the Spirit who either neglects the Bible or is not taught by the Spirit out of it (Ephesians 1:18).
II. THE CONSCIENCE. The office of the Spirit is to bring sin to remembrance — a thankless office in one sense. Tell your best friend his faults, he must be one of a thousand if you have not lost him. Few can say, Let the righteous smite me (Psalm 141:5). But the Spirit knows how to reprove without irritating, and at the right time and in the right way. The still small voice takes conscience for its mouthpiece. When that voice is heard bringing to remembrance some half-excused sin, of the neglect of some half-denied duty, "Quench not the Spirit."
III. THY WILL. The understanding may see the truth — the conscience may be alive to duty — is the work done? Answer all ye who know what it is to see the good, and yet to pursue the evil; to hate yourselves for your weakness, and yet do again the thing ye would not! The Holy Spirit, therefore, touches the will, the spring of being. He who says, "Stretch forth thy hand," will give the will and the power, and with the peace and reward.
IV. THE HEART. "Thou shalt love," etc. Who gives so much as a corner of his heart to God? The question is a self-contradiction, for the heart always gives itself whole or not at all. The Spirit enables us to cry Abba, Father. It is a dreadful thing to quench the Spirit in an intellectual scepticism; in a stubborn doggedness of conscience; in a settled obstinacy of will; but it is more dreadful to quench Him in a cold obduracy of heart; to say to Him when He says "Son, give Me thy heart" — "I will not — go Thy way — torment me not before the time" (Hebrews 10:29).
Parallel VersesKJV: Quench not the Spirit.