Grieving and Quenching


What is it to sadden or grieve the Holy Spirit? It's to use words or actions that disrupt our unity in the body of Christ.

Pigeons have an amazing ability to navigate. They can find their way back even from great distances. Once, an Army Signal Corps pigeon returned home from 2,000 miles away!

One of the ways a pigeon navigates is by its sensitivity to the earth's magnetic field. But that can be disrupted. In one experiment, almost all of a group of 3,000 pigeons got lost because of a very severe solar flare. The flare, an explosion at the surface of the sun, interfered with the magnetic field and confused the pigeons.

We have been designed -- you might say programmed -- by God to be led and controlled, maneuvered and navigated by the Holy Spirit. But there can be significant "explosions" of sin in our lives that disrupt the sensitivity that we have to the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Ephesians 4:30 warns us, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." The word "grieve" is an emotional, relational word. It means to cause sadness or to bring sorrow to someone. And the Holy Spirit can be grieved because He has personhood and personality. 

What is it to sadden or grieve the Holy Spirit? It's to use words or actions that disrupt our unity in the body of Christ.

What was this church doing that caused the Holy Spirit to be so grieved? From the context in verses 25-31, there was lying, stealing, corrupt words, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice. Notice that mostly these are sins of the tongue. The Bible has a lot to say about that. James 3:6 says, "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity." It is full of wickedness that can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction. In many churches, friendships and marriages have been destroyed by sins of the tongue. This grieves and saddens the Holy Spirit because it disrupts His work of bringing us to oneness.

The words "clamor" and "evil speaking" in verse 31 suggest gossip, something that in my view is worse, and far more prevalent and pervasive, than most other sins of the tongue. We should pray like David in Psalm 141:3, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips."

Another offense committed by believers is in 1 Thessalonians 5:19: "Do not quench the Spirit." The word quench means suppress, stifle or hold back, and suggests the extinguishing of a fire. The Berkeley translation puts it this way, "Do not extinguish the Spirit's fire."

Again from the context, this could mean don't extinguish the fire of love from within the body of Christ. Don't put out the fires of love that the Spirit wants to keep ignited on the altars of the hearts of God's people. Instead, we should get along with each other, comfort each other, uphold each other, be patient with each other, etc.

I think that grieving the Spirit can lead to quenching the Spirit. If you grieve Him long enough in a friendship, in a marriage, in a business relationship, in a church, eventually that grieving leads to a quenching. It impedes the flow of the Holy Spirit from working in and among us.

Don't quench the Spirit's love and power within the body. Don't be quick to react, be careful to respond in such a way that allows the Holy Spirit to bring us to oneness. 

If the Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Teacher, and our Guide, how does He feel when we refuse His help, when we fall asleep in His class and refuse His instruction, when we swerve off the path He's guiding us on? It is of paramount importance how we respond to Him, how we treat the Holy Spirit. As He guides you from within, if you are refusing Him, change that now!


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