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9 ways we quench the Spirit

~ Thoughts from The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
Quench not the Spirit
11. Christ’s judgment and victory

Do not quench the Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:19

extenguish the fire It sounds ominous. Definitely something I should avoid doing.

But, um, what exactly does it mean to “quench the Spirit”?

In The Bruised Reed, author Richard Sibbes says it means deeply offending the merciful nature of Christ.

I define it as attempting to extinguish the breath of God, intentionally or otherwise, in ourselves or others.

If Christ himself won’t blow out a wick that’s at least smoldering (until he brings justice, Matthew 12:20), we sure have no business doing it ourselves.

What do we do to douse the flame? Where do believers go wrong and hinder the Spirit’s work?

Here are nine ways Sibbes says it happens.

1. I’m too bad
We see our badness as bigger than his goodness.

But “none are damned in the church but those that are determined to be.” Christ is ready to welcome each of us, regardless of our past or present. Don’t allow your disbelief of the Spirit’s ability to reside in you be a hindrance to his work in you. 

2. I deserve the worst
We can wrongly assume Christ wants us to suffer hell now before he brings us to heaven later.

But Christ desires to and does give us comfort even now, even here. Don’t turn it away.

3. I no longer want his mercy
We can turn our back on his gift and resist his grace so much that the fire goes out altogether.

There are those who take it on themselves to cast water on those sparks which Christ labors to kindle in them, because they will not be troubled with the light of them.

But God didn’t make us to damn us. The Holy Spirit knocks often at our hearts, willing to “kindle some holy desire” in us. Don’t keep refusing to answer.

4. I’ll sin now and get forgiveness later
We wrongly reason that because Christ won’t quench the smoking flax, we’re free to do whatever we want with no consequences.

But we are warned not to try to take advantage of his mercy. Instead of looking for loopholes through his merciful nature, watch for ways he tends the flame to increase your godliness. He will preserve the grace he began in you if you won’t quench it.

What are some ways he keeps your flame alive?

  1. Through communion with other Christians
  2. Through communion with God through prayer, meditation, etc.
  3. Through words of others
    For this reason the apostle knits these two together: `Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings' (1 Thess. 5:19-20). Nathan, by a few words, blew up the decaying sparks in David. Rather than that God will suffer his fire in us to die, he will send some Nathan or other, and something always is left in us to join with the Word, as of the same nature with it; as a coal that has fire in it will quickly gather more fire to it. Smoking flax will easily take fire.
  4. Through the exercise of grace itself
    Stir up the grace that is in you, for in this way holy motions turn to resolutions, resolutions to practice, and practice to a prepared readiness to every good work.

5. I’ll get mercy elsewhere
We insult him and hurt ourselves when we knock at any other door but his.

But who can be more tender over us than Christ? No one.

6. I mistreat his children
When we wound other people despite having been healed of our own wounds by Christ, we quench the Spirit.

But instead we should appeal to the mercies of God in Christ to keep us from hurting others, and thus putting Christ through new torments as well.

7. I fight within the church
We suppress the Spirit’s work when we divide the body of Christ.

What a joyful spectacle is this to Satan and his faction, to see those that are separated from the world fall in pieces among themselves!

Our discord is our enemy's melody.

But Christ longs for unity, for us to allow the grace and peace of God to rule in our hearts as one so his glory can be most fully seen.

8. I take advantage of the weak
We wrongly misuse our spiritual power when we take what we want from those who are weak, exposing their bruises. 

But Christ would have us bring the bread of life to crying children, not take it from them. He counts the mercy we show in feeding his lambs to be mercy shown to himself.  

9. I think mercy is for sissies
We are embarrassed that Christ stooped so low and we are ashamed that the gospel is so simple.

But the more Christ descends to exalt us, all the more should we love and magnify the goodness of God. 

The heart of a Christian is Christ's garden, and his graces are as so many sweet spices and flowers which, when his Spirit blows upon them, send forth a sweet savor.

Therefore keep the soul open to entertain the Holy Ghost, for he will bring in continually fresh forces to subdue corruption.

* * *

For more on chapter 10 (and chapter 11, Christ’s Judgment and Victory, not reviewed here), visit Tim Challie’s group “Reading Classics Together.”
Download The Bruised Reed free online and read along with us.

12. Christ’s Wise Government
13. Grace Shall Reign

Comments from reading group
Previous chapter reviews

What are other ways we can quench the Spirit?
How can we keep from doing it?


Becky@ Daily On My Way To Heaven said...

I love reading this book with you!

It is helpful for me to "see" what I just read all perfectly laid down in a simple and consistent way.

Thank you!

Young Wife said...

Great post! I'd never thought of quenching the spirit that way.

Deek Dubberly said...

Super helpful list. I was struck as I read it with the thought that I had quenched the Spirit at various times in my life in almost every way you outline. We humans can be rather rotten sometimes, can't we?

Excellent way to review this week's reading. Keep up the great work and God bless.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding way to lay out Sibbe's subpoints in ch 10. Some of those exact phrases I had written in the margins of my copy! So important to bring things into modern day language and then apply them to our own lives.

is that not what a good sermon does? We are all least first-to our own hears.

thanks for the great summary, Lisa!

Would everyone agree Lisa has probably the coolest looking blog in the little circle of the CafCalv's? :) So packed with great stuff and always trimmed nicely with outstanding images and other graphics!

have a great weekend!

Lisa notes... said...

Thanks, all, for the comments. I've gotten so much more out of this by reading this book together than I would have on my own. Iron sharpening iron.

And thanks, Paul, for the blog compliment. I was particularly fond of the lady with the fire extinguisher pic that I found for this post. ;-) It seemed to fit just right.

Jude St.John said...

Great summary Lisa. Very helpful considering the difficult chapters we read.

I like your definition of quenching the Spirit as well.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I am Massell I almost quenched the Spirit. AND IT IS TERRORFYING!! I have been saved since AGE 23 AND INTRODUCED TO PORN AT AGE 16 AND COULDN'T SHAKE IT. To crave it there were times of hhhhh ignoring God and wanting to yet it seemed I couldn't. That and lying sometimes, grudging, inner anger, coveting etc. It feels terrible to not have the connection with God. And for a brief while I could imagine how Hell could feel like. minus you burning. And well is there anyone that is or knows anyone with a STRONG sensitive relationship with the Lord? To ask is this damage Ive caused reversible?? I will make sure I kill pride that I suffer from especially to make sure I can get out of thedanger zone of quenching him.


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