Monday, August 18, 2008

SOAP - 8/18/08 (1 Thess 5:12-22)


"We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them highly because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil."



vs. 19 - 22

"Do not prohibit the Spirit from working in you. Do not reject the word of God spoken to you. Test all things of a spiritual nature, and that which is good keep. Stay away from that which is evil."

What is God saying?

This passage is one of the toughest to discern in 1 Thessalonians. There is no clear indicator of what Paul is exactly saying here. What does he mean to "quench the spirit." Many of our charismatic brothers believe that "quenching the spirit" means to resist his prompting to manifest some spiritual gift such as speaking in tongues, prophecy or healing. I can't accept that definition.

In trying to discern what this phrase means I need to go back and look at what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit in John. John 6:63 says "the Spirit gives life." 14:16 calls him the Counselor and in 17 he is called the Spirit of truth. Verse 17 goes on to tell us that he lives with us and in us. In verse 26 Jesus says that he will teach us and remind us of everything Jesus said. In 15:26 Jesus says the Spirit will testify about him. In 16:12 he is once again called the Spirit of truth and Jesus says that he will remind us of the truth being limited to speaking only what he hears and taking from what is Jesus' and making it known to us.

Seeing what Jesus himself had to say about the Holy Spirit gives us an idea of how we are to not quench Him. If you will notice the job of the Spirit has much to do with communicating to us. He communicates truth, he teaches, he reminds us, etc... We can definitely quench the Spirit by not listening to him. I believe there are three ways he speaks to us. He speaks to us through our conscience, he speaks to us through the Bible and he speaks to us through others.

Paul says to not despise prophecy. Prophecy can have a few meanings, but over all it is God communicating to us. Now I am not going to say that God doesn't speak outside the Bible. It is clear that the Holy Spirit has different means of communication, but I will say this, the Bible is God's infallible word. Anything that is spoken, whether it be through the conscience or through man, needs to line up with Scripture. Many Christians have become so jaded when it comes to "prophecy" because of the many, many abuses (i.e. Lakeland Revival with Todd Bentely). We have to remember, prophecy is God's word to us. So in a very literal sense Paul is commanding us today not to despise God's word which many of us do when we listen to one thing the Bible says but ignore something else.

Sometimes it will be very hard to discern whether something was truly spoken by the Spirit or not. The best way to tell is to observe the outcome. If the outcome is good it is from the Holy Spirit, but let me caution us on this. Many times what we deem as good may not be what God deems as good. Just as the "prophecy" must align with Scripture so must the "good" that results. I have often described love as doing the best and right thing for a person. I could probably use a similiar defintion for good. Good is the right and best result that aligns with Scripture. If the result is evil then flee from it!!!

What is God saying to me?

I know God speaks to me through the Holy Spirit. I also confess that there are times I refuse to listen. It kind of hits home when Paul uses the word "despise." To think that I might despise something of God sends a shiver down my spine. I would never say I despise anything of God, but when I refuse listen to the Holy Spirit as he reminds me of what God's word says, in a very real way, I despise or reject God's word and in a sense I reject him as well. I need to be more attentive to what his word says and I need to listen closely when the Spirit speaks.

There will be times when people will speak to me, or maybe my own conscience, and I will question whether it is the Spirit or not. It has become easy for me to reject such things, but I need to learn to test such things. I need to ask myself "Does this line up with Scripture?"


I still struggle with my pentecostal brothers and sisters. I have been exposed to the charismatic side so much that I have come to disregard almost all of it. I think that by doing this I may disregard the Spirit at times, and in essence deny that he can still work and move in ways that don't fit my understanding. I need to be careful not to write something unexplainable off but test it to be sure it is or isn't of the Spirit.


Father, I admit that I limit your supernatural work in my life because I am too logical most of the time and not experiential enough. Please help me to find the balance. It is not my desire to "quench" or "despise." It is my desire to serve and follow. Help me to be a follower of your word. Help me to listen to what it says. I pray this not only for myself but for all who are your servants. Thank you for listening to my prayer.

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