Devotional: ‘Our Relationship With the Holy Spirit’

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Yesterday I concluded our study by stating that one of three things is happening in the life of every believer: either we are quenching the Spirit, grieving the Spirit or being filled by the Spirit.  What does this mean and how can we know what is happening in our lives?

  • And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  (Eph 4:30 NKJV)
  • Quench not the Spirit. (1Thess 5:19)
  • Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.  (Eph 5:18 NIV)

Perhaps we should begin by determining what it means to be ‘filled with the Spirit.’  The most obvious explanation is to consider what Paul tells us in context of this command.  “Do not get drunk on wine… Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”  An all too common occurrence in our society is for someone to get arrested for – DUI  “Driving Under the Influence.”  Whenever someone reaches a certain level of alcoholic content in their bloodstream, they are considered to be dangerous when it comes to driving a vehicle.  The reason they are dangerous is because alcohol has the power to have a negative influence upon how we act.  Paul uses this example to illustrate the work of the Spirit in the life of a believer.  Alcohol can negatively influence us and lead us to do what Paul calls ‘debauchery’ or an over indulgence in sinful pleasures.  In contrast, the Holy Spirit can influence us and lead us to do things that are according to the will of God.  To be filled with the Spirit means to be under His complete control and guidance.  According to the way Paul originally wrote this, it could be translated as: {I command you to continuously be under the control of the Spirit.}  We do not get one does that lasts us for a lifetime, or even for a day for that matter.  It is a constant and continuous seeking to be in intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit.  Paul refers to it in Galatians 5:16 and 18 as “walking in the Spirit.”

That seems simple enough, and it would be if not for two other possibilities.  Paul also warns us about “grieving” the Spirit and “quenching” the Spirit.  First, let’s consider what it means to ‘grieve’ the Spirit.

With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.  Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.  They have no sense of shame.  They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.  But that isn’t what you learned about Christ.  Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.  Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.  So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.  And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.  If you are a thief, quit stealing.  Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.  Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.  And do not bring sorrow (grief)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.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  (Eph 4:17-32)

From this passage it is quite easy to see that grieving the Spirit is associated with continuing to practice sin, even after we become a believer.  What does it mean to ‘quench’ the Spirit?

But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.  So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.  Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work.  They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.  Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work.  And live peacefully with each other.  Encourage those who are timid.  Take tender care of those who are weak.  Be patient with everyone.  See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.  Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  Do not stifle (quench) the Holy Spirit.  Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said.  Hold on to what is good.  Stay away from every kind of evil.  (1 Thess 5:8, 11-22)

Here the emphasis seems to be more on seeking to do what we know is right.  The Holy Spirit is constantly doing one of two things in our lives:  (1) He is warning us concerning sin, (2) He is encouraging us concerning righteousness.  Victorious Christian living comes from being obedient to His guidance.  Or, in other words, victorious Christian living comes from living “Under His Influence.”

Recently I had a conversation with a man who used to be in the ministry.  As we were discussing the various aspects of the Christian life, the subject came around to the Holy Spirit.  Both of us agreed that the number one problem in the church today is that so many of us know so little about the work of the Holy Spirit.  Our churches are filled with well-meaning people who are struggling to live the Christian life because they lack a proper understanding and practice of the Spirit’s presence in their lives.  I pray that I have said something in these devotionals that has made it a little clearer.

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