Do not quench the fire of the Spirit

It is awesome that God chooses to come down and reside in us through his Spirit. But our involvement with the Holy Spirit can be dealt a body blow by our actions.

Dr Campbell Morgan identifies 3 such dangerous actions.[1] Resistance to the Holy Spirit, Greiving the Holy Spirit. We have spoken of those over the past month. Today I want to address the other way: quenching the Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:19  Do not quench the Spirit.

Last week we spoke of the baptism by the Holy Spirit - He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16).

Christians are baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He works as a fire, by enlightening, enlivening, and purifying the souls of Jesus followers.

Fire is also the symbol of power: power to praise, to pray and to prophesy – it is the symbol of our ability to do ministry under the power of the Holy Spirit.

We must be careful not to quench this holy fire.

It is that quenching that I want to focus on today.

I am not a firefighter, you need to talk with Mark Noble or Kelly Handley for that knowledge but I know from seeing bush fires on TV that there are 5 ways to quench a fire.  The first is to pour water on it, the second is to dump dirt on it, the third is to hit it with a wet sack, the fourth is to deny the fire any fuel by creating a fire break, and lastly and weirdly you kill a fire by lighting a fire, called back-burning.

I want to pick up on those things that we do to kill a natural fire and look at them in relation to the Holy Spirit supernatural fire.

First is pouring water on it. There is a saying in common usage that says that so and so poured cold water on that idea.  That is what we do when we are in opposition to the word of God, we pour cold water on the work of the Spirit, and we quench the Holy Spirit. We pour cold water on God.


We pour cold water on the fire of the Holy Spirit when we deny the spiritual gifts that God has given us, when we refuse to use the gifts given to us.  We quench the spirit when we criticize and crush others when they are using their spiritual gifts.


When believers pour cold water on the fire of ministry we quench the Spirit


The Spirit’s ministry should not be hindered; we should not hinder others in their ministry for God.


It seems sometimes that we not only pour cold water on the work of the Spirit, but we actually use flame retardant as well to make doubly sure. We can put barriers which squash the Holy Spirit – we committee it to death, we rules and regulations it to death. We bury it 6 feet under and put a concrete slab on top to make sure.


A quenched fire produces a lot of steam and smoke but produces nothing of substance.  When we try to operate without the power of the Holy Spirit, we produce a lot of visible “smoke and steam” but nothing of substance.  A puff of wind and it is gone. It has no substance.  It is much ado about nothing. It is without foundation.  It is a house made of straw.

The second way to quench the Spirit is to dump dirt on it. Dirt is a good analogy for our sin. The Spirit is quenched by us living in sin. We must be careful not to quench the Holy Spirit by (in 16th century English) indulging carnal lusts and affections, or minding only earthly things.[2]   Our undead old ways of life can quench the Spirit of God power in our lives.


The third way to quench the Spirit is by beating it to death with a wet sack. Again there is a saying in common parlance about being a wet blanket.  When our focus is on ourselves we put a wet blanket over the work that is done for God by others.


One person wrote that that many people have lost their gift of power in service and have become barren of results in their work for God because they have prostituted a heavenly gift to sordid selfish service, to the glorification of their own lives, instead of what it was meant for.[3]


How often have we heard the wet blanket people asking us why would we do that for God without recognition when we could be the focus of adoration and praise by shouting our service from the rooftops.


The fourth is to deny the Holy Spirit any fuel by building a firebreak around it.

The spirit is quenched by not improving our gifts and grace, which is like withdrawing the fuel.[4] We quench the Spirit if we do not stir up our spirits, and all that is within us, to comply with the movement of the good Spirit.


When we rely on ourselves and our own ability and refuse to allow God to work his power through our ministry or ministry to us, we quench his spirit.  We create a firebreak between us and God’s power.


Over 120 years ago a man wrote something so relevant for today that he could have written it yesterday:  It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land are likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, churchgoing, hollow hearted prosperity” (Frederik D Huntington, 1890) [5]


When we think we can do things without God, then his spirit is quenched within us and within his church. We have withdrawn the fuel.  When we don’t want to be stretched beyond our comfort zone then we quench the Spirit.  When we put God into the comfortable Sunday box we quench the Spirit.


People quench the Spirit by attempting to work in their own strength, hoping that God could step in and make up for what they lacked. God will not come and help men to do their work. He asks that they give themselves to Him, for the doing of his work,[6] not the other way round.


The fifth is way of quenching the Holy Spirit fire is by backburning.


We quench of the Holy Spirit by the burning of false fires upon the altars of God, which means attempting to carry on the work of the Kingdom of God by worldly means, by creating an alliance with things that are unholy.  God will never allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to be mingled with strange fires upon his altars.[7]


When we adopt the world as the standard, then we have starved the Holy Spirit of the fuel which is us. We have burnt up the fuel that the Holy Spirit fire needs.


Those are the negatives, but we must not only “not quench the Spirit”, but we must also stir up the gift that is in us.[8]


The Spirit empowers and directs our corporate life and witness. He gifts each believer to contribute to the church’s growth and maturity. It then becomes our responsibility to either exercise our gifts or quench the Spirit’s gifting.


This is the reason that Paul directed Timothy to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave him (2 Tim 1:6). [9]


For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.


We need to encourage the Holy Spirit by welcoming him into our lives and the life of the church, not as an afterthought when our plans go awry but right at the beginning, before we act.


We need to be open to new moves of the Spirit in our lives and in the life of the church (here, throughout the city, country or world) and embrace that new thing that God is doing.


The apostles first received the spirit of fire at Pentecost because of their loyalty to Jesus Christ. They had spent 3 years with Jesus and they waited for 10 days for his power to descend after he ascended to heaven.  In those 10 days they prayed and rejoiced.



 The glorifying of Christ in their lives, and the obedience to the words of Jesus, were the first conditions for the falling of the fire upon them at Pentecost.  The second condition was their recognition of human helplessness, confessed by their waiting until the Holy Spirit came.


We quench the spirit by reversing the conditions upon which the spirit was originally received [10]


The order is: First loyalty to God; second, recognize our helplessness before God, then receive the empowering by the Holy Spirit.


But if we focus on our own ability, our loyalty to our own ability and the world, the Holy Spirit power is quenched and we do not become empowered.


Your choice.


16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in everything; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but examine all things; hold fast to what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

[1] G Campbell Morgan The Spirit of God 228-237

[2] Henry, M.  Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2344).

[3] Morgan 236

[4] Ritzema, E., & Vince, E 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. .

[5] Francis Chan crazy Love: overwhelmed by a relentless God 65

[6] Morgan 236

[7] Morgan  235-237

[8] Henry, M.. 157

[9] Belleville, L. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews (Vol. 17, p. 18).

[10] ibid