walk in the word
Category: Spiritual Life
Last week we looked at the importance of being filled with the Spirit. This week we look at those things that hinder us from being filled.
While God is not human, He is a person. He has genuine feelings about what we do and how we relate to Him. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force or an influence but a coequal person of the triune God. As such, the Holy Spirit is affected by our actions. Specifically, when our actions are not pleasing to Him, they greatly limit His work in our lives. This is the great malady of the church in our day.
I wish so much for you to experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Without that power, you will never realize the change for which you have been striving. So let’s take a moment and survey the biblical teaching on what we do that forfeits the filling of the Spirit in our lives.
1. Grieving the Holy Spirit. Paul warned, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). What does it mean to grieve the Spirit? The Greek word lupeo means to cause pain or sorrow. Oswald Sanders has written that “grieve” is a love word. You can anger or frustrate enemies, but you can only grieve loved ones. The Lord Jesus Christ loves us so much. When we do things that He does not want us to do, it grieves His Spirit within us. It makes Him sad.
2. Quenching the Holy Spirit. Paul also warned, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Grieving the Holy Spirit is doing things that we should have left undone. Quenching the Spirit is refusing to do things that He wants us to do. Every time the Holy Spirit convicts us to pursue certain behavior and we say “No,” we forfeit the Spirit’s filling, and transformation ceases.
I observe this so often as a pastor. After a service I hear things like, “Boy, God really convicted me this morning and I need to get baptized”; or “The Lord spoke to me, and I know I need to make things right with my mom”; or “God has convicted my heart that I need to stop watching certain kinds of movies. I know they are not pleasing to the Lord.” The next time I see those people, I will bring the matter up and ask if they followed through on the things about which God had convicted them. Surprisingly, the answer is often “No.” That is quenching the Spirit.
For instance, you say some words to somebody, words you never should have said. The Spirit of God convicts your heart and tells you, “Go tell her you are sorry. Go make it right. Humble yourself.” And you say, “She’s done that to me before. It’s no different.” Then you come up with all of the rationalizations for not making it right.
Then the Spirit of God continues, “Make it right. Humble yourself. Be the first person.” But you respond, “I’m not doing that!” When you refuse, you are quenching the Spirit in your life and forfeiting the transforming power of almighty God. If that goes on for a long time, you will get to this third thing, which is very serious: rejecting the Spirit.
3. Rejecting the Holy Spirit. Paul also said, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and then went on to list all of the things that God wants to change about us. In verse 8, he concluded, “Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.”
If there are some things that God has been trying to change in you, and you have been saying, “No, I won’t change that. I don’t want that for my life!”—you must realize that this is serious. When we grieve and quench the Spirit so long that we have essentially rejected the ministry of God’s Spirit in our life by refusing sanctification, we have rejected God himself.
So the Bible mentions three hindrances to being filled with the Spirit: grieving, quenching and rejecting Him. Any of these sound familiar? If so, you need to take care of business with God and let the Holy Spirit begin working in your life today.
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