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Aug 14, 2022

Don't Quench the Spirit

Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Preacher: Jess Achenbach

Series: 1 Thessalonians

Category: I Thessalonians

Keywords: evil, prophecy, spirit, emotions, good, discernment, quench


How not to quench the spirit, how to have discernment and avoid evil while doing good.


The last half of this chapter that we have sporadically been going through this Summer is the final instruction before Paul closes this first letter to the Thessalonians.  The four verses that I will be going over make up two sentences, so I am going to read them and then we will come back and take them apart.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil


  • Do not quench the Spirit:
    • How to quench (Blade example)
    • What happens when we do (hardened heart, brittle)
    • How do we listen to the HS (examine our feelings with scripture, prayer and other believers) – “God told me to do this…sin” example.
  • Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all:
    • Respect for the authority of scripture (Prophecy and Preaching) Explain the broad use of term.
    • Our responsibility when it comes to taking in others (and our own) interpretation and application. Many false teachers, (Bible school Mormon church example)
    • Have discernment (how do I develop that?) Don’t allow our emotions to dictate our theology. (Mormon Example) Watchman
  • Hold on to what is good and reject all kinds of evil:
    • Practice/Discipline yourself to hold on to good. Doing good while not feeling like it is obedience not hypocrisy.
    • Not rejection= condoning (Societal change and our lack of admonishment (I Thess 5:14)
    • Reject: take captive your thoughts and get rid of evil thinking and behaviors.







Do not quench the Spirit:  When I first read this, I thought oh this is just all so straightforward, this is going to be such a fast sermon, I will just read it and then we will be done. Then I began to pray about it, I read it over and over and began to ask myself some questions.  The first question I thought was how does one quench the spirit.  The idea of quenching brings to mind, perhaps taking a drink to satisfy your thirst.  When I was working on the fires in Alaska, we had to do all of these classes that teach us about fire behavior and how to extinguish a flame.  In order to have fire you need fuel, oxygen and ignition or spark, and I am sure that there is an analogy there somewhere, but I remembered my cousin who is a blacksmith that makes knives and swords, and he talked about quenching a blade.  A blacksmith will put the metal in the fire until it is glowing hot, then they submerge it in oil and it hardens the steel.  It actually changes the crystalline structure of the metal inside. If you continue to do that it becomes very hard, and then finally it becomes brittle and can break.

When we look back at this last section of chapter five we are given all sorts of instruction and these final verses are the wrap up of how we should live. 

Let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. Encourage one another and build each other up. Acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Live in peace with each other. Warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.

Quenching the Spirit is to ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit, the whispering that he does to our hearts so that we can live by these teachings.  There is a similar verse in  Ephesians 4:20 says “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by whom you were sealed until the day of redemption”.  Then in the verses following that, gives similar ways that we can live in that grieve the Holy Spirit (living as the pagans, lying, being angry, stealing, cursing, bitter, unforgiving and sexual immorality).

When we give in to our old man, the sinful nature that we battle against, we live for own selfish pleasures so he gives us this warning, don’t harden your hearts and become brittle ready to break, instead, be obedient and follow the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit so that we can accomplish the good works that God has planned out for us to do before we were ever even born.

I had to ask myself, what does it mean exactly to listen to the Holy Spirit, how does that work? 

1st point of application: Spend time in prayer and meditation, soften your heart to the will of the Father by being in the word so that you are attuned to where the Spirit will lead you. 

It might sound mystical, but there have been so many times when I had no clue what to say in the moment and the Holy Spirit directed me and there was a good outcome.  Likewise, there have been many times when I spoke in anger and didn’t listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and handled things my own way that ended out poorly.

2nd point of application:  When listening to the Holy Spirit, the message will always jive with Scripture.  We never see the Holy Spirit direct us in a way that defies the truth of God’s word. 

I had a relative once that always claimed to be very in tune with the Spirit and one day, I heard that she told the family God had told her to move in with her boyfriend.  This is obviously not from the Holy Spirit because we are told not to live in immorality. 

This brings us to the next verse: Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all:

First of all, what is prophecy?  Prophecy at its most basic definition is “a message from God.” So, to prophesy is to proclaim a message from God. I actually covered this last year when we were going over the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit, but I thought I would put out a quick refresher on it:

Here is the definition:

  • a message from God
  • a discourse emanating from divine inspiration
  • declaring the purposes of God
    • Reproving and admonishing the wicked
    • Comforting the afflicted
    • Revealing things hidden (Uncovering the truths of scripture)
    • By foretelling future events

So, while there is a component where you can be telling the future the primary New Testament translation is to simply speak forth the word of God.

With that in mind, let’s reread the verse: Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all:  This isn’t the only place we are told to test the prophets. 

I Corinthians 14: 29-31 tells us to test the prophets. “29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged,

So we are told not to teach prophecies or it could be said sermons with contempt, but how do we do that?

I used to think that in order to test the prophecy you had to hear it and then wait for it to either come true or to not, and that is how you could tell if the prophet was a true or false prophet.  While this is the case with some things, like for example if someone comes to me with a “Word from the Lord”, if that thing doesn’t happen, I will admonish that person that they are a false prophet.  However, if someone comes to me or if I hear a sermon online or even at Church, I should test the prophecies and find out, does his message line up with scripture or they are misusing scripture for their own purpose.  I bring up the point again about my relative that wanted to live in a sinful sexual relationship and so she spiritualized it by saying that God told her to do it.

Here at Mosaic we have high view of scripture.  What does that mean, a high view, well it means that we believe that the bible is the inspired word of God that it is inerrant and the final authority for the Church.  II Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”. 

The authors of the scripture were carried along by the Holy Spirit, and we see this in II Peter 1:21 “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Because of this we trust the authority of the Bible over the authority of anything else it is the truth filter that we put everything through in order to test it.  Sometimes people will weaponize the speaking of the Holy Spirit in order to put their own will on to other people.  When I was in college, there was a guy that told this girl that the Holy Spirit told him that he was going to marry her someday, so they should start dating… needless to say, that never happened.  But this can be used by some people in the wrong manner which is why we need to be very careful and test the prophecy of people, pastors, anyone really that is claiming to speak for God.  When people do this for their own motives it becomes a way that they can put out their statement and it doesn’t allow you to question their position, because it came from God – so how dare you question it? 

While I have mentioned different examples of people that do this in evangelical settings there are many other ways that we are encouraged to exercise discipline when it comes to testing the prophecies outside of evangelical Christendom.

Several years ago I was working down in Utah and had the chance to talk to a pastor’s wife and she told me the story of her conversion.  She and her husband both were born and raised in the Mormon church, and they were sealed in the temple at their wedding.  For their honeymoon, they went to southern California and had the opportunity to go on the famous gameshow The Price is Right with Bob Barker.  She was called to be a contestant and ended up wining the grand prize.  The euphoria that she experienced was the same emotion that she had when we received her testimony that Joseph Smith and the Mormon church was true.  This caused her to question the authenticity of her experience.  Both her and her husband started reading the bible and the Holy Spirit lead them to an understanding of grace, and they receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.  She jokes that Bob Barker led her to the Lord. 

You might not have any experience with that particular Church, but they are led by their feelings and emotions instead of the authority of the Scripture.  During the first year of Covid, Candice my wife through different circumstances began emailing back and forth with the wife of bishop of our local Mormon ward.  It was a theological discussion and every time she was stumped and unable to answer questions, she would always refer back to the burning in the bosom experience that she had and that is why she knew the Church of Latter-Day Saints was true.

Are emotional experiences bad?  No, God put emotions in our lives to amplify our experiences and we use them for the Glory of God.  My sister has a saying that “Emotions are a wonderful servant but a horrible master”.  Because the way I feel changes from moment to moment, it would be very unwise to use that as my theological navigation tool. It is imperative that we put Fact faith and feelings in the right order.  This comes from Watchman Nee.

Facts: God and the Scripture is the trustworthy authority

Faith: Trusting in God’s grace for salvation

Feelings: Amplify our experiences but are not our guide

Faith Fact and Feeling are walking on a stone fence.  When Faith follow Fact and Feelings follow Faith everyone says on course.  The moment Faith turns and follows Feeling, they both fall from the fence.

3rd point of application:  Make sure that you are regularly in the word so that you can recognize false doctrine when you hear it. Memorize key passages from scripture that will be easily called to mind when you are faced with a nice sounding fallacy.

4th Point of application: Don’t allow the way you feel to dictate your beliefs.

This point was driven home this last week.  I was on my way to attend a meeting across the street with the two pastors of New Community, the President of the board of Shalom and their operations manager, along with two of the downtown beat Spokane police department.  The topic of discussion was how do we care for the homeless population without harming the neighborhood.  Who are the true neighbors here.   For those of you not familiar with Shalom, they are the “dining with dignity” group across the street that is based in the New community Church there.  We have been meeting with them to try and work on the issue of homelessness and what perpetuates it here, as well as how we can clean up the neighborhood.  One of the issues we have is that they are not allowing folks to eat indoors anymore because of Covid, and so they are just doing take-away boxes that end up all over the place downtown.  It feels good to help people and we are called to help people.  But how do we do that in a way that is not enabling and that is truly helpful.  The two police officers were very helpful in putting it in perspective, how to have healthy boundaries, to not allow troublemakers and drug dealers to continue coming and causing problems. One line that the policeman said stuck with me.  He said I have been a cop in Spokane for 25 years and I have seen many people dead by overdose, I have never seen someone die of hunger here.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel good to tell someone “NO, you can’t continue coming here because of your behavior, and so you are trespassed for X amount of months. However, if we can cause a circumstance to interrupt their behavior, that is often the time where we see change in a person’s life.  If they are hungry, perhaps they will alter their activities.

This leads into the last part of our passage today: Hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

Let’s look at the first part.  Hold on to what is good.  This seems pretty straightforward, do good.  Hold onto it.  Put it into practice, discipline yourself to do good.  I have made a practice to read my bible every morning and pray.  Sometimes I don’t feel like doing it, but this is a reminder that doing something that I don’t necessarily feel like doing in the moment is not hypocrisy, rather obedience.  The world tells us what?  Do what feels good.  Stay true to yourself.  I would say NO, staying true to myself, what does that mean?  Stay true to what makes me happy?  This is what leads to destruction.  Let me read a quote from the Huffington Post about what they say is being true to yourself.

Being true to yourself means you don't worry about pleasing other people; living by someone else's standards or rules. You don't care what people think of you. You live as your natural self. Without compromise. No one can tell you how to be true to yourself except youHuffington Post.

This is completely opposite of what we as Christians are called to do, we are called to lay down our lives for others, to live not for myself but as Christ called us, to be servants of others.  The world tells us that there is no absolute truth.  This is spiritual blindness.  We were all spiritually blind at some point, but God intervenes, and he invites us to have communion with Him, but there is a specific thing that must happen, we need to yield our lives completely to HIM, not living to be “True to ourselves” but to be true to what God has called us into.  Paul says over and over that he is a slave to Christ.  Do slaves walk around doing their own will? No, we do the will of the Father, holding on to what is good.  Paul also talks about the struggle it is to do that in

Romans 7:15-20 “15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

That is a pretty wordy passage, but basically it means that our sin nature (the things we feel like doing) are not what we should be, there is a battle inside of us to hold on to what is good, to do the good things, and not do the things we feel like doing.  Hold on to what is good. 

Practically we are called to support the things that God has called good.  For example, the world tells us that we need to support a woman’s right to abortion, the “right to choose”.  As Christians, we hold on to the truth that we are made in God’s image, that each life is precious and killing that life to make our lives easier, to avoid consequences is wrong.  Hold on to what is good.  We are to be lights in this world standing for what is truly good, not what feels good.

 Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”

5th point of application: Practice good. Make healthy habits that you commit to doing so that you begin doing good works.  Set goals to be in the word, to be in fellowship.

Now for the last section of this passage. We are told not just to cling to what is good, but also to reject evil.  I want to break this up into two parts.  The first is to reject evil in our own lives.  Because we are selfish prone to sin people our thoughts are evil and we need to take these thoughts captive and get rid of them. 

Richard L. Ganz, Ph.D. wrote a great piece on taking your thoughts captive.  He has six points that I want to blaze through here.

  1. Accept responsibility for your thoughts. You have the ability to exercise control over your thoughts. God warned Cain to focus his mind on the right things, but Cain chose to think about the wrong things - anger and jealousy - which led to his murderous actions. Are you willing to admit that you can, with God's help, regain control of your thoughts - and think enabling thoughts instead of disabling ones?
  2. Your mind - not just your behavior - must change. God calls us to change sinful behavior that does not honor Him. Instead of focusing on your outward behavior, work on disciplining your mind - from which the behaviors stem. Allow God to transform you by the renewing of your mind ( 12:2).
  3. Think through your problems rather than just react to them. When you experience difficult challenges, you can react to them and think yourself into despair every time. Or you can look forward to the next opportunity and ask yourself what you learned from this failure. Is your first thought I'll never do anything right? You don't have to get trapped by disabling thoughts. You are capable of getting out of your shame, despair, hopelessness, and anger - by taking control of your thoughts.
  4. Take your disabling thoughts captive through confession. Paul urges us to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" ( 12:21). Confront your disabling thoughts. Turn them over to God and become who He sees you can be. It will take work to take your thoughts captive each time they pop into your mind. But it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.
  5. Choose to focus your thoughts on the right things. We are to think about those things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable" ( 4:8). When we think about those things, God promises to give us His peace. What a contrast that is to the thoughts of millions of people today. Don't look to a movie, TV show, or how-to formula to accomplish this for you. It takes personal discipline and commitment.
  6. It is possible. It is not easy to retrain your thoughts or to respond in new Christ-like ways. Take heart: as God empowers you to focus your mind on the right things, it will become easier. You can develop a new frame of reference, based on what is true, noble, right,pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

The second part of rejecting evil has to do with our role as citizens in this world.  I think our primary goal is to clean out the junk in our own minds as we just went through, but the second is about our influence.  Think about the moral decay in our culture over the last 50 years.  What was once deemed evil by the world is now celebrated as sacred.

I been tempted many times to ignore the evil and just try and hold onto the good.  Like many of the German citizens in World War II, they closed their eyes to the evils that were going on around them and it lead to 13 million murders.

Pastor John spoke a couple of weeks ago on I Thessalonians 5:14 and part of the passage was this: And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

We should be warning those that are clinging to evil, but we need to be patient with everyone.  We have a responsibility to proclaim the truth of God’s word to the world.  This means being active in fighting against the evil that is in our schools, local government and much more.  I don’t want to be guilty of clinging to evil by condoning it because it is too uncomfortable to stand up for.

Recently a friend told me that he wanted his son and his girlfriend to move into his house with him so that the rent would be cheaper.  My challenge to him was this:  Why would you invite and condone sin like that in your home?  His answer was one that I think that many Christians believe.  He said, well they aren’t Christians, so I can’t hold them to a Christian standard.  Ultimately, it is a lack of faith that God will provide for his mortgage, and in doing so he was willing to condone – cling to evil.

6th Point of application:  Live as a light in the world.  Take a stand when it comes to proclaiming the truth of God’s word and work in our lives and in the world.

Matthew 5:14-16 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Where do you stand when it comes to being bold for the Kingdom?  If you are here today as a believer, this is a tough message to hear because it is difficult.  If you are not a Christ follower, are you ready to have some absolute truth in your life?  Perhaps you want to talk about this with someone.  We have prayer counsellors down here at the front after each message, and I would challenge you to be bold, come and ask questions.  Jesus is calling you to live a life of meaning and holiness.  Let’s pray.