You want to grow in your faith. You long for more of God’s presence and power in your life. But let me issue an important warning …
There are four “Spirit Quenchers” that can lurk in the shadows of our lives, threatening to douse the flames of God’s power burning within us. What are they?
Consider the Apostle Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 6.
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (verses 18-19)
Paul asserts that immorality is unlike any other kind of sin. How so? Certainly there are physical and relational consequences of immorality that distinguish it from other kinds of wrongdoing. However, Paul’s focus is not on the physical or relational effects of immorality, but on the unique spiritual consequence. There is a direct link, Paul asserts, between the practice of immorality and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Sooner or later (probably sooner) every one of us is going to be hurt by someone else. It may be a friend who betrays us, a pastor who disappoints us, a business associate who cheats us, or a mate who deserts us. Offenses in life are inevitable.
But every hurt we experience in life is accompanied by a supernat¬ural outpouring of grace from the Holy Spirit to heal that hurt. If we refuse that gift of grace and decide to hold on to the offense, our anger will eventually metastasize into a tumor of bitterness that strangles our relationship with other people and with God.
As a pastor, I see the devastating consequences of un-forgiveness every day. I have watched bitterness destroy friendships, families, and entire congregations. Bitterness quenches the supernatural grace the Holy Spirit provides us to handle the unintentional slights or the premeditated attacks that come from other people. Bitterness quenches the Holy Spirit’s power to handle our hurts.
While immorality quenches the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, and bitterness quenches the Spirit’s power in our lives, greed can actu¬ally extinguish the Spirit’s purpose in our lives. How so?
God has one overriding purpose for every Christian: to be transformed into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. But God also has a unique plan for our individual lives that He communicates to us through His Holy Spirit. “For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
God’s Spirit may be creating a desire within you to go to the mission field. Or He may be leading you to get married. He may tell you it is time to have a child. He may be prompting you to give money to a friend who has a financial need. Or He may be
encouraging you to pursue a different career path. What is holding you back?
Right now, the Holy Spirit is creating in you a desire to obey Him. But nothing will extinguish that flame more quickly than being overly concerned about money. Greed quenches the Spirit’s promptings.
What if… I lose my job? I develop cancer? My children are killed in an accident? My mate has an affair?
E. Stanley Jones described fear as “the sand in the machinery of life.” We might paraphrase Jones’s excellent word picture this way: “Fear is the sand in the working of God’s Spirit.”
We may be prone to think of worry as a minor issue compared to major sins such as immorality, bitterness, or greed. It isn’t. Do you know what the most frequent command in the Bible is? It isn’t “Fornicate not,” “Hate not,” or “Covet not.”
No. There are 365 verses in the Bible that command us to “Fear not.” Our tendency toward anxiety is so powerful that God has to remind us 365 times — at least once a day — not to worry. Worry quenches the Spirit’s peace.
So what is the antidote for the four Spirit quenchers we have dis¬cussed? In a word, obedience.
There is incredible spiritual energy that comes from simply obeying rather than stew¬ing over the commands of God. Nothing will rekindle the power of God’s Spirit in our lives any more quickly than doing what we know we should do.
The great Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards compiled a list of seventy resolutions that guided the course of his life. Number twenty-five on his list should be number one on the list of anyone who is struggling with any of the four spirit quenchers today:
“To examine carefully and constantly what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt the love of God; and so direct all my forces against it.”
I suspect you already know what that “one thing” is in your life that is quenching the power of God’s Spirit. You have the power to change that one thing right now. Do it, and watch the flame of God’s Spirit begin to burn brightly again in your life!
Taken from the book I Want More! © 2003 by Dr. Robert Jeffress