Quenching the Spirit

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

If you’ve been listening to the Everyday Jesus podcast, you know we are spending time focusing on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We started this week on the podcast discussing the Holy Spirit. And if you’ve missed that show, you can catch up here by clicking the play button on the podcast player below:

We’ve continued that conversation through the week this week, with two blog posts – one on resisting the Spirit and one on grieving the Spirit. You can catch up on those two posts here:

Resisting the Holy Spirit

Grieving the Holy Spirit

For the final installment this week, I wanted to try and tackle the somewhat controversial topic of quenching the Spirit. And the reason I label this topic as somewhat controversial is because of two differing theological viewpoints – the cessationist and the charismatic viewpoints.

For those not familiar with those terms, the cessationist would say that the miraculous spiritual gifts of the bible stopped operating after the original 12 apostles died off. Those gifts include prophecy, healing and tongues. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t include nursery service, because if you’ve ever tried to get people to volunteer for that you know it’s nothing short of miraculous when it happens! Just kidding (a little).

The charismatic viewpoint says that all of the spiritual gifts are still in operation today and that includes all of the miraculous gifts. And depending on which side of the fence you fall on in this issue, may change the way you see this subject. First, let’s look at the main verse in question:

“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

A simple reading of the Bible and you will see that the Holy Spirit is often described as fire. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire and landed on the heads of the disciples.

Paul, playing off the idea that the Holy Spirit is represented by fire, draws this analogy of quenching the fire or putting it out. The basic idea presented here is that the Holy Spirit is like a fire and that fire can be quenched…it can also be fanned into a flame.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 2nd Timothy 1:6

So Paul offers to different scenarios for interacting with the Holy Spirit, quenching it and accelerating it. And interestingly enough, he offers that both are something done to the Spirit by believers. It’s your responsibility to fan it into flame and to keep yourself from quenching it.

So let’s look at a few ways we can quench the Spirit:

  1. We quench the Spirit by despising prophecies. The Bible is very clear, we are not to despise prophecies (even if you’ve received bad ones before), but we are actually supposed to desire to prophesy (1 Cor 14:1). Paul is telling the church in Thessalonica to test all prophecies and hold fast to the good ones. Prophecy in the New Testament and defined by the Bible are words of edification, exhortation and comfort (1 Cor 14:3). Do not despise those words. Hold fast to them.
  2. We quench the Spirit by eliminating emotions from our church services. Some people fear emotions or emotionalism. And while there can be abuses of people by using their emotions, by and large, we should not quench the spirit by denying emotion. We know that people in the Bible rejoiced, wept, danced and sang. Zephaniah puts it this way, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Loud singing! Wow. Fan that into a flame.
  3. We quench the Spirit when we disregard His Word. When describing the Holy Spirit, He is sometimes called the Spirit of Truth. When we allows lies to permeate our life by disregarding what the Bible actually says, then we are quenching the Spirit in our own lives.
  4. We quench the Spirit when we let church become disorderly. While many churches believe that the being completely chaotic is a sign that the Spirit is working, I disagree. Paul admonishes us to let everything in our church services be done “decently and in order.” The Spirit isn’t random. He doesn’t cause chaos. We allow chaos by not listening to His leading. God is not the author of confusion. Now this doesn’t mean that we don’t allow the Spirit room to move in our services, but when He does move, it doesn’t look like disorder. You don’t need to shut your brain down. God moves through order and sound thinking.

This is not an exhaustive list, but just a starting point. And like many of these things like this, I think we do better when we focus on what we should be doing, which is fanning into flame the gift of God in our lives, versus dwelling on the things we shouldn’t be doing. Follow Jesus everyday and it will be very difficult for you to quench the Spirit.



In case you missed the posts on Wednesday, we started a new series all about godly parenting on the Everyday Jesus podcast. My wife and I discuss Tedd Tripp’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. You can listen to it by clicking the play button below:

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