ccording to the Church Calendar we are in the Pentecost season which literarily means that we are still reaping the benefits of Pentecost Day celebration. It is always inspiring to celebrate the Holy Spirit. This brings to mind the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Who or What is the Holy Spirit? Many Christians know and understand who the Father is, God the Creator. They know who His Son is, Jesus Christ who died for our sins to reconcile us with the Father. They also know that Jesus rose from the dead so He can go back to His Father. But they do not quite know or understand who the Holy Spirit is. We hear that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity. Some people wonder about that. Putting aside all the confusing theology that surround the concept of the Trinity, all it means is that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. It is this same Spirit that created the whole word. It is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. The Holy Spirit at times called the Holy Ghost is not a ghost like Casper in that friendly children's story nor is He the spooky ghosts that ghost busters are always hunting for. The Holy Spirit is the Power and Essence of God. He is the invisible presence of our Living God. We may not see Him but He is ever there.
Jesus predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8 He said "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you". Power to do what? Primarily to become witnesses for Jesus. In John 14:18 Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit. He said "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you". Pentecost was the full coming of the Holy Spirit on all the people. Acts 2:1-4 describes the event. "When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire and one sat upon each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance". In fact in John 20:22 we learnt that the Holy Spirit was first received by the Apostles when the doors were shut and Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you" and He breathed on them and said to them "Receive the Holy Spirit". In Acts 4:8 we read about Peter being filled with the Holy Spirit again after the Pentecost. Acts 4:31 talks about the Holy Spirit coming again and how when they were all filled with the Holy Spirit they spoke the Word of God with boldness. Hence the coming and presence of the Holy Spirit is not a onetime event. It is a continuous process. The "in filling" of the Holy Spirit is also continuous.
So what does the Holy Spirit do in our lives? In John 14:26 He is called the Helper, who will teach us all things. In John 16:13 Jesus calls Him the Spirit of Truth who will guide us into all truths. Isaiah in 30:21 predicted that the Holy Spirit will be our guide. It says "your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, this is the way walk in it". The Implication is that we shall all be led by the Spirit of God, in our major and minor decisions and we will be directed in our paths and in our ways by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 indicates that the Holy Spirit will help us to pray. The Holy Spirit articulates those things that burden us in prayers to God, bringing our needs to God even when we cannot express them. What a great help. The Spirit's intercession can be trusted because He intercedes according to God's will. The workings of the Holy Spirit in us are diverse, intense and extensive. However in Mathew 12:31 Jesus warned that sin against the Holy Spirit is the most grievous sin. He said: "Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven". David knows and understands the power and workings of the Holy Spirit hence in Psalm 51:11 he prays "do not take your Holy Spirit from me". This has set me thinking. Can the Holy Spirit withdraw from us? Can we become devoid of the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Can the Holy Spirit be taken from us? After King Saul's disobedience of God's instructions, the Bible tells us in 1Samuel 16:14 that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and he was being troubled by an evil spirit. David must have seen what happens when we remove ourselves from the presence of the Holy Spirit. David understands that without the workings of the Spirit of God in our lives we become dysfunctional. In fact David was instrumental in restoring some equilibrium to Saul through his music whenever Saul was troubled.
The Holy Spirit is usually represented as a flame or fire which is glorious but at the same time makes it appear vulnerable, because fire is quenchable. However with the significant gift of the Holy Spirit, Paul gives a stark warning in 1Thessalonians 5:19. He says: "Do not quench the Spirit". I have always wondered if the Spirit of God is quenchable. Can we humans extinguish such a phenomenal power that is of immense value to us? Apostle Paul thinks we can. On reflection I also think we can and we do, but inadvertently. How do we quench the Holy Spirit of God? In today's world, there is the erosion of the absolute dependence on the Spirit of God for guidance, for power and for intervention in some situations. The workings of the Holy Spirit are being replaced by human skills, abilities, capabilities and scientific knowledge. Not that these are awful. After all Daniel 12:4 tells us that in the last days knowledge shall increase. It is the over dependence on human learnedness that may be the problem. It seems that we have returned to the era which in Judges 21:25 is described as "when men did that which was right in their own eyes". This is the era when the voice of the Holy Spirit is being silenced. It is the era where the Holy Spirit as base of spiritual authority is being abandoned. It is the era where every revealed truth is being replaced by rationalization, liberal reasoning and political correctness. It is the era where there is an intentional desire and moves to restrict the freedom of God's presence in all our enterprises. It is also the era where there is a rigid separation of the secular from the spiritual with no meeting point for both.
The Holy Spirit can be quenched in many ways. One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the truth. The Holy Spirit is quenched when we close our minds to the truth of God, as revealed by Him in His word. The Holy Spirit is quenched when all things sacred are being distorted, and the truth about God is being exchanged for a lie. The Holy Spirit is quenched when the creature rather than the Creator is worshipped and served (Romans 1:25). The Holy Spirit is quenched when the will of God made known and revealed through the prophetic Word of God and the prophets of God is being undermined. The sacred fire of the Spirit is quenched when we expressly refuse to walk in God's way and in God's path. We quench the Spirit when we do not speak the words that God lays upon our hearts. We quench the Spirit when we do not give Him the opportunity to use us to reach those around us, to touch, to heal, to deliver and to bless others through us. We quench the Spirit when we refuse to allow God to manifest Himself in ways of His own choosing. We quench the Holy Spirit when we live disconnected from God's power, and we do not heed that which we have been told and learnt. We quench the Spirit when we do not respond to His promptings both subtle and overt. We quench the Spirit of God whenever and wherever God's leading is stifled. The Spirit of God is quenched when we over assert ourselves and we do not allow Him to take preeminence in all that we do. The Spirit of God is quenched when He is not given full rein in our lives and we do not allow God's will to prevail. After all Jesus taught us to pray that the Lord's will be done in our lives.
Paul again in Ephesians 4:30 warns "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God". Grieve means to cause pain, or to hurt. There are many things that we can do to hurt or cause pain. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we yield to worldly motives rather than godly motives. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we rigidly hold on to our own agenda instead of yielding to God's agenda and explicit direction. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we become self indulgent, which the Bible describes as becoming the "lover of self". The Holy Spirit is grieved when we are controlled by prejudiced and vengeful spirit. The Spirit of God is grieved by procrastination. If we continue to put off till tomorrow the good that we can and ought to do today, the Holy Spirit is grieved. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we lay off temporarily or permanently the spiritual or scriptural directives for selfish reasons. In many issues in our interactions, the Holy Spirit is grieved when we make choices that can hurt or cause pain to another. The sum total is that the indwelling Holy Spirit is affected by our negative attitudes and behavior.
Quenching and grieving the Spirit is not a single act but a combination of events which when prolonged, could result in the permanent drowning of the Spirit's voice and the replacement with our own voice and our own passions. However the scary part is that not only can we quench the workings of the Spirit in ourselves, we can also quench it in others and others too can also quench it in us. While people are required to be submissive to their leaders, manipulative and domineering leaders can quench the Spirit by imposing their will on those under them. Self willed people can bully others into submission, asserting control
and power over them and thus quenching the Spirit in them. The Spirit of God can be quenched in others when they are not allowed to respond to the voice of truth. The Spirit of God is quenched in people when their potential and abilities to respond to the Spirit of God is limited and restrained by others. The Spirit of God is quenched when people are brainwashed into losing all sense of reasoning. Some individuals can quench the Spirit, in the lives of many others when they use their position and authority to ensure that their wills, patterns and choices always prevail. The Spirit of God can be quenched in people when they are manipulated by others to fear man rather than to fear of God and when they are goaded to heed man's directive rather than God's thereby displeasing God.
The Spirit of God is freely given. It is available for all. It cannot be purchased like Simeon wanted to in the Bible. David's most significant prayer found in Psalm 25:4 says "Lord show me your way, teach me your path". With all these in mind, Paul's alert messages need to be kept in view. Individuals need to make the decisions not be the one to pour cold water on the workings of the Holy Spirit. In all collective, those in position of power need to create an environment where the Spirit and power of God can thrive and be demonstrated not through emotionalism but in the true presence and manifestation of God's Spirit. 2Corinthians 3:17 says where the Spirit of God is there is liberty. Supreme and conscious efforts need to be made to keep the Holy Spirit alive in us and in others. My personal response to all these is Lord, help me to keep your Spirit alive within me and in others. Amen.