Quench Not The Spirit!

Pithy Pastoral Reminders of a Profound Theologian #4 of 7
Base on exhortation delivered at PCC prayer meeting on 15 Dec 2005

“Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

We have been considering what appears to be some by the way pastoral exhortation of the apostle Paul to the Thessalonians. It appears that Paul was ending his letter to the Thessalonians. The main purpose of his letter has been accomplished. Now, there is some space left on the parchment. Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, inserts a few quick instructions with few words.

Paul is not merely filling up the space. These are important things which He wants the Thessalonians to know.

These are things which we must be reminded too. We have already considered verse 16: “Rejoice evermore”; verse 17: “Pray without ceasing”; and verse 18: “In every thing give thanks…”

In this article, the Lord helping us we want to consider another short verse: “Quench not the Spirit” (v. 19).

Let us consider these words by asking 3 questions: (1) What is it to quench the Spirit? (2) How do we quench the Spirit? (3)How to keep the Spirit ‘burning’?

1. What is it to Quench
the Spirit?

First, let us understand that this Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit. Although in the Greek the word for the Spirit of God and the spirit of man is not distinguished, our translators, I believe have indicated correctly that Paul is referring to the quenching of the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, let us understand that this is a metaphorical statement. Paul speaks about quenching the Spirit. But the Spirit is a divine person. How do you quench the Spirit?

To quench is to extinguish or to put out a fire. Therefore, when Paul speaks of quenching the Spirit, He must be likening the Spirit to fire. Or perhaps more precisely, he is likening the work of the Spirit to the work of fire.

Fire illuminates, warms and purifies. So the Spirit who indwells every believer illuminates our understanding; warms our heart so that we are made willing in day of His power; and purify us of our sin.

What is it to quench the Spirit? It is to make void His grace. It is to resist the work of the Spirit in our lives. It is to refuse His assistance in prayer or in the understanding of God’s Word.

We must careful not to do so.


2. How do we Quench
the Spirit?

Well, in the first place, as fire is quenched by withdrawing fuel, so we can quench the Spirit by not feeding our souls with the Word of God; or by failing to make use of the means of grace.

Experience confirms this observation. Brethren who continually miss the means of grace for various reasons, will by and by backslide. I have known of brethren whom I use to think to be godly and fervent becoming proud and hardened in the heart when they begin to cut down attendance at the means of grace for whatever reason or excuse. Oh beloved brethren, guard the fuel supply fervently.

In the second place, as fire will die down if we do not fan it and stir it, so we can quench the Spirit by not fanning to flames the gifts that Spirit has endowed us.

This is why the apostle Paul reminds Timothy “stir up the gift of God” (2 Tm 1:6). Timothy must exercise the gifts of the Spirit or the Spirit would be quenched. So too for us: if we hide the talents that the Lord has given us, we will quench the Spirit. Likewise if we refuse to live a life of faith that requires as it were, the Spirit’s powerful help, we will quench the Spirit.

In the third place, as Matthew Henry puts it: “as fire is quenched by pouring water, or putting a great quantity of dirt upon it, so we must be careful not to quench the Holy Spirit by indulging carnal lusts and affections, or by minding only earthly things.”

Do you know the joy of the Holy Spirit, brethren and children? The apostle Peter tells us that we should have a joy unspeakable. The apostle Paul reminds us to rejoice and to rejoice again.

If you know not this joy or you know not the warmth and love of the Spirit that is shed abroad in our hearts, could it be that you have quenched the Spirit? Could it be because you have been indulging your carnal lusts and affections? Could it be that you are finding joy in earthly things rather than in Spiritual things? Some of these things may be legitimate others may be sinful. This is why the writer of Hebrews distinguishes between weight and sin. But whatever it is, if you are finding your meaning and satisfaction in life in these things, you are smothering the Spirit with the dirt of the world.

Oh will you not return to your first love and first works?

Oh will you not strive to keep the Spirit burning. But…

3. How to Keep the Spirit

Firstly, be consistent in the use of the means of grace, private, familial and public. Strive to be consistent in prayer and the reading of the Word. Make it a point not to miss your daily personal devotion and family worship. Make sure you have regular family worship—keep it short so that you can sustain it and keep the Spirit burning.

And make sure that you do not miss any worship service. Oh do not ever tempt God. Do not think: It is just one week. We are on vacation, so it does not matter. Seek rather to arrange your vacation so that you can worship on the Lord’s Day. If you miss once, you will likely miss another time. Therefore, strive to be consistent.

The same goes for the prayer meeting. If you want to keep the Spirit burning, I would recommend that you strive to come even when you do not feel like coming.

Secondly, to keep the Spirit burning, you must learn to lay aside every weight and sin that so easily entangles us. Think how best you can order your life so that the things of this world does not occupy all your time, affections and thoughts.

Thirdly, to keep the Spirit burning, you must seek to make use of the talents and spiritual gifts that the Lord has bestowed upon you. It is very sad when believers who have been greatly gifted by the Lord refuse to make use of their gifts, but bury them the ground. If you do so, how will you answer the Lord when He asks you what you have done with the talent he left in your care?

And in the meantime, when you bury the talent, you quench the Spirit and bring dishonour to the Lord.

Fourthly, to keep the Spirit burning, you must pray for the Spirit. You must learn to ask for a greater measure of the Spirit.


Is the Spirit burning in you beloved brethren and children? If you do not know the answer, then it is probable that you have quenched the Spirit or are quenching the Spirit. For where the Spirit is burning, the believer is on fire for the Lord and His heart is filled with warmth and love for the Lord and for His saint.

Quench not the Spirit, beloved brethren and children. Begin today; begin now to fan the Spirit to flame for the glory of God and your spiritual enjoyment of Him. Amen.

—JJ Lim