Quenching the Spirit
How does one quench the Spirit? I have heard a myriad of answers to that question.
I believe the answer to be simple and contextual. The idea of “quenching” the Spirit is found in 1 Thessalonians 5. Here is the immediate context:
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)
Many people take these verses as individual admonitions. So, the idea of not despising prophecy is not connected to the quenching of the Spirit. However, when one understands that the function of the Spirit in the church is always prophetic, he sees a continuity within the four verses quoted above.
- 19 – Quenching the Spirit is resisting the prophetic power placed within the church. Just like the Corinthians preferred tongue speaking to prophecy, so the Thessalonians were tempted to minimize the gift of prophecy among them. After all, the spirit of the prophet was subject to the will of the prophet (1 Corinthians 14:32).
- 20 – Also like the Corinthians, there existed some among the Thessalonians that preferred other gifts or other sources of “revelation” to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, this explains the rise of false doctrine among them by the time of the writing of 2 Thessalonians.
- 21 – The testing of everything was necessary because false prophets were already springing up in the church. The primary manifestation of this was in the person of the Judaizers (see 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15). Paul is exhorting them to make sure that all “prophecy” among them is truly from the Holy Spirit and to accept everything He has to say.
- 22 – While this verse has been used to compel Christians to submit to many counter-cultural ideas, it has to do with prophecy among the church. The Thessalonians were to test all prophecy and reject every form of teaching that deviated from the inspired revelation of the Holy Spirit.
The quenching of the Spirit is the act of resisting His prophetic work among the early church. In the literal sense, we cannot quench Him today. However, as His prophecy has been fully captured within the text of Scripture, we can, at least in spirit, quench the power of His work today.