In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, the apostle Paul told believers, "Do not quench the Spirit." Ephesians 4:30 adds, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God." What does it mean to grieve or quench the Holy Spirit?
How does a person grieve or quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30)?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul uses the same word used elsewhere related to "quenching" or "putting out" a fire (Mark 9:44). The idea was that of stopping or ending the ability of a fire to continue. In the context of Paul's letter, he was encouraging believers to live a holy life according to God's Spirit. They were not to stop doing the things they had been instructed to or to live in sin in ways that would quench or put out the fire of God's Spirit at work among them.
In Ephesians 4:30, Paul commanded the Ephesian Christians not to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God." To grieve would mean to make the Spirit sad or do something opposite of what God's Spirit desires. The context of the passage deals with the issue of anger, sharing, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29). We are to build one another up as believers, not tear one another down. Tearing one another down grieves the Holy Spirit as it is inconsistent with God's purposes for our lives.
In addition to sinning as the result of anger, Ephesians 4 offers other ways believers can grieve the Spirit. These include living like unbelievers (vv. 17-19), lying (v. 25), stealing (v. 28), using bad language (v. 29), bitterness (v. 31), unforgiveness (v. 32), and sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3-5).
In contrast, believers are to speak truth (Ephesians 4:25), not sin when angry (v. 26), work hard (v. 28), encourage (v. 29), and be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving of one another (v. 32). The contrast of grieving the Spirit includes, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2).
There are similarities between quenching and grieving the Spirit. Both take place as the result of a believer who sins. Both take place as the result of a self-focused lifestyle that places self above God and others. Both include practicing the former ways a person lived before knowing Christ.
God's desire is for the believer in Christ to live differently than before coming to faith in Christ. Doing so brings God joy and will not quench or grieve the Spirit of God who lives within those who believe.
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