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What does it mean to “grieve” or "quench" the Holy Spirit?

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." —Ephesians 4:30

"Do not quench the Spirit." —1 Thessalonians 5:19

The concepts of "grieving" or "quenching" the Holy Spirit are found in Ephesians 4:30 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19, but those terms might not be familiar. Sometimes looking at another translation can help us get a better idea of what a passage is trying to say. The New Living Testament (NLT) is really helpful in this case:

"And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30 (NLT, emphasis added)

"Do not stifle the Holy Spirit." —1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NLT, emphasis added)

The Holy Spirit is a Person

The Holy Spirit is a divine Person and a part of the Trinity of God (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). He is the helper Jesus promised for every believer (John 14:16, 26, 15:26). The Holy Spirit lives life WITH us, guiding us and reminding us of God's truth (Romans 8:26-27; John 16:14). When we understand that the Holy Spirit is someone with a personality and emotions, then we can better understand how it might be possible to "bring sorrow" to Him or for Him to experience grief.

What causes the Holy Spirit to be sad or experience grief?

Ephesians 4:17-32 explains a laundry list of things that are unhealthy or harmful practices for believers, such as living an immoral lifestyle (4:17-19), lying (4:25), being angry (4:26-27), stealing (4:28), cursing (4:29), being bitter (4:31), and being unforgiving (4:32). These behaviors bring great sorrow to the Holy Spirit.

If we continue reading past Ephesians 4:30, we find the antidote to the Spirit's grief: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).

The Holy Spirit is joyful when we are living our lives for God (Acts 13:52). We can truly experience the kingdom of God when the Spirit is filled with joy (Romans 14:17).

The Holy Spirit is Fire

The Bible often describes the Holy Spirit as a fire (Isaiah 4:4; Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:3-4). If you've ever observed a flame of any kind, you know the power fire has. Even a tiny flame can turn into a raging fire. And if we allow even a tiny flame of the Spirit in our hearts at first, He can have an effect that grows and spreads, warming our hearts to God.

While fire has much potential, a small fire can be extinguished quickly with a splash of water. Likewise, we can suppress the Spirit's fire in our hearts if we never let it grow. To be clear, we aren't taking power away from Him, rather we're extinguishing the effect of His power over us. God created us with free will, and if someone chooses to ignore the Holy Spirit's influence, they will grow less and less sensitive to His fire over time. This is "stifling" or "quenching" the Spirit's fire.

What stifles or quenches the Spirit's fire?

When we continue to read past 1 Thessalonians 5:19, we find the answer: "Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." We do need a little context to fully understand this passage though.

The church in Thessalonica was experiencing a rash of false prophets. They recognized their lies, but then they went to the extreme of saying ALL prophecies were bad. The apostle Paul encouraged them to accept genuine prophecies that aligned with what they knew to be true about God (Isaiah 8:20), then said that they were right to avoid any evil prophecies.

Believers today have no need prophets because we have a complete Bible that serves as our guidebook to being a human being in this world. God gave us the Bible to us so we would have clear instructions about the most beneficial ways to live life and how to glorify Him with our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

This connects to the fruit of the Spirit in a way. When we allow the Spirit to work through us and develop love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), then we keep the Spirit's fire alive in our hearts.

Welcoming the Spirit's Joyful Fire

Jesus tells us to let our light shine among others, so that they can see Him through our actions (Matthew 5:16). Think of that as the Holy Spirit shining through you! Choose to express the fruit of the Spirit in all you say and do. No, it's not always going to be an easy task, but that's why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit in the first place! Remember, He's on our side and wants the best for us.

Choose to keep feeding the Spirit's fire by listening to His guidance to follow God's will. When we make mistakes, yes, it will make the Spirit sad. But He won't be sad forever, and we won't have messed up anything permanently. We can choose to do better next time, and forgiveness is always available whenever we ask (1 John 1:9).

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TL;DR

Since the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, He has emotions. That means the Spirit can experience grief and sorrow—just like we can. The Holy Spirit grieves when believers actively choose unhealthy or harmful practices (Ephesians 4:17-32). He is filled with joy when we listen to Him and follow His guidance in all we say or do (Galatians 5:22-23).

By: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two teenage kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.

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