This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on March 1 2015.
“Do not quench the Spirit”, Paul instructs us in his closing words of 1Thessalonians (5:19). As Christians, we are people who have had the guilt of our sin forgiven, and the Holy Spirit given to us. The Spirit’s task in us is twofold: to make us live more and more righteously (the fancy word for this is ‘sanctification’), and to equip us for our part in his mission of expanding the Kingdom of God on earth. ‘Quenching’ the Spirit probably refers to this work that he does in us.
Quenching the Spirit’s work could be likened to dumping a pile of wet firewood on a fire – rather than feeding and growing it, the timber makes the fire struggle and could even put it out. We can quench the Spirits work in us by being inattentive to it, by being enamoured by the world or engrossed in our own desires and plans. Our growth in grace is a work of cooperation with the Spirit, and working against him stifles what he would like to do in us.
Instead, we must fan into flame the gifts he has given to you and the work he is doing in you (c.f. 2Timothy 1:6). An important part of our own spiritual discipline must be to identify the Spirit’s work in our lives, and, like the tiny flame that begins a great campfire, to nurture it, fan it, and carefully feed it until it produces the mature fruit of the Spirit’s work: Christlike character (c.f. Galatians 5:22-23) and strong development for our service to God (c.f. 1Corinthians 12:4-11).