As I See It: Quenching, Suppressing, and Blaspheming the Holy Spirit

I was reading today in 1 Thessalonians. Paul exhorts the new believers to sanctification. He tells them,

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit,” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 NKJV).

A little later, as he concludes the epistle, he again reminds them, “Do not quench the Spirit,” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 NKJV).

This interaction with this group reminded me of the theology of the Holy Spirit I have come to accept after studying the matter in the Scriptures. Let me explain my beliefs and you can determine if I have it right or I am in error in some way as to what I perceive.

We quench the Spirit when He speaks to our hearts, but we refuse to acknowledge His voice or listen to Him. We have this explained further in the first chapter of Romans,

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,” (Romans 1:18-22 NKJV)

This “suppression of the truth” is what I am referring to as “quenching the Spirit.” As we continue to read further in Romans 1, we see a continuation into the dark despair of sin. Three times, it is said that God, “gave them up to uncleanness,” (Romans 1:24), that He, “gave them up to vile passions,” (Romans 1:26), and that He, “gave them over to a debased mind” (Romans 1:28). We see this even in the church, where husbands declare openly, that they have “fallen out of love” with their wives, and justify their extramarital affairs because they are now, “in love” with someone else. Teens are no longer admonished to control their passions, but are strongly denounced if their sex, which is “going to happen anyway,” is “unprotected.”

As we suppress, or quench, the Spirit, our minds are corrupted and we are less and less able to discern His voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me,” (John 10:27  NKJV). However, if we continue to ignore that voice, it becomes more faint. Instead of hearing the Spirit speak through our conscience, we justify our sins and invent clever arguments as to why the Scriptures do not mean what they clearly say.

We are not without hope though. If you can still discern the faint voice of the Spirit, you can still repent and come back to Him. Jesus, when debating the Pharisees, who refused to hear the Spirit’s testimony about Him, declared, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come,” (Matthew 12:31-32 NKJV). So if we are caught up in pornography, fornication, adultery, etc., we can be forgiven. We receive this forgiveness when we acknowledge our sin IS sin and we “repent” or turn from it and change our minds about its justification.

But what about that cryptic phrase “blasphemy against the Spirit” of which, there is no forgiveness. I believe this to be the sad state of affairs when someone continually “quenches” the Spirit over and over, and God continues to give them over and over to the vile thoughts and sin they insist on choosing over the holiness that God has set before them.

These are the people of whom Paul speaks when He says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV) A night of drunken revelry, fortunately for my sake, does not exclude you from the kingdom. We have already seen that Jesus says these sins can be forgiven. I believe we will share Heaven with murderers. (Moses and David comes to mind.) But if we continue to have an attitude toward sin, as “no big deal.” If we feel the sting of shame after an intimate night with our mistress, but blow it off and go back the next night, we are in danger of “blaspheming the Spirit.”

When I started this post, it wasn’t my intention to make it all about sex, but that seems to be the context in which the Bible places this discussion. Not entirely, of course, we can be chaste and still quench, suppress, and blaspheme the Spirit. However, it seems that sexual sin is one that easily besets us and leads us to reject the Spirit’s voice altogether. The recent revelations about pastors and Christian leaders discovered on the Ashley Madison adultery website is just the current example.

So what do you think? Is my rant “Right on!” or “Wrong-headed?” Respond in the comments and let me know how you see it.

Profanity, Christians and the Spread of the Gospel

In a Facebook group that Chuck and I are in, one of the discussions this week was on the topic of Christians and profanity. The point was made that the Bible shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of the characters and thus we should, too, in various aspects of our lives, such as in the content we write.

Among other things, the idea was that profanity, Christians, and the spread of the gospel go hand in hand.

One proponent of swearing Christians raved about a pastor and author that drops F-Bombs, stating that the pastor “never met an F-Bomb she didn’t like.”

Continue reading “Profanity, Christians and the Spread of the Gospel”

War Room Will Never Win An Oscar…

…but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good movie.

Don’t expect Alex Kendrick to beam at the room full of tuxedoed cinema professionals this February and exclaim, “You like me! You really like me!”

A quick check of Kendrick’s latest, War Room, on the movie review site, Rotten Tomatoes, shows that of 17 reviewers, 5 liked it and 12 panned it. This gave the movie a 29% “fresh” rating.

Fortunately, movie reviewers are not the film’s target audience. A stark contrast to the reviewers 29% is the audience’s rating of 91%. The movie, which cost $3 million to produce, pulled in a little more than $11 million its opening weekend.

Other Kendrick movies have, likewise, suffered stinging reproof from the critic’s pen. However, all have outperformed their projected box office receipts and have delighted their fans.

Kendrick is not the only movie director to be derided by the Hollywood elites. They did the same to Frank Capra. While Capra’s early films garnered Academy success, some of his later films, such as, It’s a Wonderful Life, were criticized for overly idealized themes. The sappy, corny messages were ridiculed as “Capra corn.” But like the Kendrick films, the audiences loved them.

War Room is a movie that powerfully portrays the efficacy of prayer to influence lives and destinies. The lead character, Miss Clara, proves to be a formidable prayer warrior when she is serendipitously thrust into the messy life of Elizabeth Jordan. Elizabeth, reluctantly, is mentored by the elderly Miss Clara and learns the ways of the force in which Miss Clara has become skilled.

Hollywood elites, and your agnostic neighbors, will fail to appreciate the message the film depicts. Those who have not experienced spiritual battles fought while kneeling will only see a simplistic tale of a crisis that is inexplicably averted because someone shouts at the sky.

Those who know, however, the reality of powers and principalities that the eye cannot see nor the camera lens capture, will appreciate the story behind the story.

They will sense the spectacle of the battle that was won through the film’s production. I’m not referring to the battle alluded to in the storyline, but the one that is acknowledged in the credits as the names of “prayer team” are listed.

No, don’t expect War Room to show up on the list of Oscar nominees for best picture. Those who make such lists just don’t understand it. But as for the faithful, who sit in the audience and  applaud the film’s climatic resolution, “We like you, Alex Kendrick! We really like you!”

 

4 Hints for Leading Your Teenager.

Today is your darling little daughter’s twelfth birthday.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

You are entering the most difficult period of parenting known to mankind. The years between 12 and 18 are the most influential of a person’s life. They will likely set the course for the man or woman they will ultimately become.

The main reason teenagers are difficult to raise is that your leadership style has to undergo a radical shift if you want to continue to be influential. From newborn to about age eleven, moms and dads are the most important people in a child’s life. With teenagers, not so much. Small children, even when they are being difficult, are attempting to judge your reactions and hear your opinion as a means of making sense of the world.

Teenagers, on the other hand, are preparing for adulthood. They are trying to establish their own identity apart from the one that is attached to their last name. If you try to continue your dictatorial power that worked wonderfully with your preschooler, you will likely get a lot of pushback from your teen.

Here are suggestions to help navigate the treacherous pre-pubescent, adolescence, and young adulthood years of your child.

  1. Monitor their social media. If you suddenly tell your sixteen-year-old that you want all their passwords, be prepared for a major battle. However, a frank discussion with your twelve-year-old about the dangers, responsibilities, and conditions of their social media use will be accepted and well-received, especially if it comes with their first smart phone. Set expectations from day one that nothing posted in any chatroom, forum, or blog is private . . . especially from you. Insist that teens must keep you informed of any password they use as a condition of their continued media use and put reminders for yourself on your calendar to spot check their accounts. If you discover that they have accessed media that you have been blocked from, even if they swear that it is because they “forgot” to tell you they changed the password, impose a strict “going dark” punishment for a time period commensurate with the infraction. By “going dark” I mean, no interactive media access.
  2. Discourage “bad company” relationships. The old adage that “bad company corrupts good morals” is a sad truth with teenagers. Once a child hits the age of twelve, family night at the movie theater or amusement park won’t be as much fun as it was when they were seven. You shouldn’t keep teens from doing things with their friends, but you can encourage friendships with the right people. Encourage your teens to participate in group activities with their peers at Boy Scouts, youth groups, and other Christian environments. They will likely make their close friends from among the people they hang with. Be aware, however, that not everybody who wears the title “Christian” on their nametag, has that title written on their heart. Even Christians can bully, engage in sexual activities, and commit crimes. Like Ronald Reagan, “Trust, but verify,” that even the “good kids” aren’t just acting the part.
  3. Help your children maintain a healthy view of their body. Boys and girls with unhealthy bodyweights become the targets of mean kids. Sexual attraction becomes increasingly more important during the teen years, so help your teenager develop modest dressing practices, good eating habits, and an active healthy lifestyle. Invite them to visit the gym with you, but be aware of an unhealthy fixation on being “sexy.” Teach them everything you know about health and nutrition even if you need to read a book or two to brush up on it yourself. Set a good example by staying fit and maintaining your hygiene. Encourage open discussions and try not to blush if you are asked a question on a sensitive topic.
  4. Train your children to be leaders, not followers. One of the best firewalls you can build for your children against ungodly influence is helping them become the influencers, not the influenced. Teach your children to take a stand for their beliefs, in a loving, non-antagonistic manner. Help them to have the courage to be steadfast and firm, even with teachers or other authority figures, that attempt to dissuade them from the values they’ve been taught.

One day you will remember your child’s tumultuous teenage years and marvel at the adults they have become. Work at these suggestions as if the person they ultimately become depends entirely on you, but pray knowing the truth is that God is much more interested in seeing them through these years than you.

I would love to hear how you handled the struggles with your teenager. Please comment below.

Key to Strength Is Found in Christ

Do you feel powerless as a Christian? The way to change from one who can do nothing to one who can do “all things” is found in the juxtaposition of two verses from the New Testament. The first is found in the gospel of John, Chapter 15. Verse 5 says this:

“I am the vine, you [are] the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NKJV)

The second verse is Philippians 4:13, it says:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13 NKJV)

Unless we abide in Christ, we can do nothing, but through Him, we can do it all. So how do we “abide in Christ?” What does that mean? Go back and read the entire fifteenth chapter of John. There are clues there to help you abide in Christ.

The first clue is in verse 3. Jesus tells His disciples that they are clean because of the word He has spoken to them. Paul also speaks of this cleansing power of the word in Eph. 5:26:

… that He might sanctify and cleanse her (the church) with the washing of water by the word, (Eph 5:26 NKJV)

So the first clue to cleansing, spiritual power is:

  1. Spend time daily with Christ reading His word.

By regularly reading the scriptures we learn of God’s purposes and receive His power to accomplish those purposes, or as Jesus puts it, “bear fruit.”

The second clue from John 15 is in verse 7:

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John 15:7 NKJV)

So as we are learning to abide in Him and reading His word, we must also learn dependence and submission to Him. This is accomplished through asking for our daily bread.

  1. Spend time daily with Christ in prayer.

We become powerful and strong by asking for that strength in a regular time of prayer. Again, Paul adds to our understanding of what Jesus says:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]. (Eph 6:12 NKJV)

As we seek power for our lives, we find it not in our bulging biceps, but on our knees.

The third clue to spiritual power in John 15 is in verse 26:

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. (John 15:26 NKJV)

Since Jesus has ascended to heaven, he abides there. If we are to abide with Him, we must walk closely in the Spirit while we are on earth.

  1. Walk in the Spirit of truth and love always.

As we learn God’s purposes and ask for the strength to accomplish those purposes, we would certainly be remiss if we failed to do those purposes. Walking in the Spirit means, at least partly, doing the things that Jesus tells us to do. And the primary thing we are told to do is love one another.

So this is our conclusion. We can feel powerless to accomplish God’s purposes in this life. The key to gaining that power is abiding in Christ. We gain power when we abide in Him through reading His word, seeking his provision in prayer, and walking in His Spirit. Do these things and you will truly be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

What Stewardship Is All About

Stewardship is a word that is not used often outside of Christian circles. It usually means that the church is initiating a funding drive for the new fellowship wing or some other cause. However, stewardship should not be exclusively about giving.

Stewardship is Management

A steward is basically a manager. This idea acknowledges that as believers, we do not ultimately own anything. Everything that we claim as “ours” was given by God and, in the end, will revert back to Him.

We are under the obligation to manage what we have received. We do not manage it for ourselves; we are simply stewards of God’s gifts. They are His and we should not treat his things any way we want. We must use them as He would have us use them.

Being a Good Steward of Our Finances

Surely, money and wealth is one of the things that God has provided. We should be good stewards of what God has given. Money can’t be spent as we please. We shouldn’t, as Christians, take the popular attitude, “I have worked hard for my money and I will spend it as I see fit.”

Believers should be aware that they do not work to earn money or to please men; they work to please God. With God as our employer, we do the things He directs us to do. Often that is to seek employment in a certain career field or to start some type of business enterprise.

Faithfulness in these endeavors often produces wealth. Perhaps, I am mincing words here, but it is not the job or business that brings the gain. The money is given by God. It is not ours, but His.

We can use the money to buy houses and cars and things we enjoy, but even those should be justified as the things that God would want us to have to continue His purposes. We should not view our home as our castle, but as the place that God has given us to show hospitality to others, a place where we can rest and be refreshed, and a place where we can shut out the world and commune with God.

For some, that may be the large house on a hill overlooking a lake and steps away from the golf course. For others this may be a studio apartment in a high rise. God provides different gifts to each of us and we should be content with what He has given us. As good stewards, we should be grateful for what He has provided, take care of it, and manage it well. The principle in scripture is that to those who have much, more will be given. God rewards us with more when we take good care of what we have.

A Parable on Stewardship

In Mt 25: 14-30, a parable is told that a\describes the qualities of a good steward. A man was a master over three stewards to whom he entrusted talents. The word “talent” is not used as we would today to mean a skill or ability, it is a measure of money, a large amount of money. To one, the master gave five talents; to another, he gave two talents;

Upon returning from a long journey, the master settled his accounts with the three stewards. The first two both doubled the amount they had been given and were commended. The third steward did not invest or manage the master’s money well. He dug a hole and buried the money and gave it back to the master when he returned. He was condemned as being lazy because he did not manage well what he was given.

Here’s what I think we should learn from this parable:

  • Not all are given the same amount – Some are given much; some are given little. But all, are responsible for the amount they are given.
  • We honor God by being faithful with what He provides – A steward can’t simply sit on his provision. He must put it to work to increase what he is given for God’s glory.
  • Finally, we will be rewarded or chastised according how well we have taken care of our allotment – God rewards our stewardship with more, but He condemns anyone who is irresponsible with His provision.

 

Even though, this post has spoken only about money and wealth, we should be cognizant of the fact that money and material things are only part of what God provides. God will hold us accountable for how we manage other kinds of talents as well. He gives other gifts, such as, time, natural abilities, and health. These are also distributed in varying amounts amongst His people, and we are responsible for taking care of them and using them well.

 

Scott Walker’s Comment Unjustly Characterized as Evasive

Scott Walker was apparently criticized in the Huffington Post for not acknowledging that President Obama is a Christian. Here is the HuffPo’s article.

What the author’s intent seems to be is to get Walker to acknowledge the condition of the President’s soul. Anyone vaguely familiar with the tenets of Christianity knows that such judgement is reserved for God alone. Mere mortals cannot make such pronouncements. Walker’s answer was spot on when he was asked the question, “Do you think Obama is a Christian?”

Walker replied, “I don’t know. I presume he is.” This is the best answer we can give. It acknowledges that we are not the arbiter of someone’s ultimate destiny while stating the presumption that we should take him at his word. It didn’t seem to me that Walker was in any way ascribing that the President was a Muslim, born in Kenya, or the anti-Christ, as others have surmised.

The title ascribed to the HuffPo article is, “Scott Walker Still Won’t Say Whether Obama Is Christian.” It suggests that Walker is somehow being evasive about what he truly believes about the President. Would Walker answer the question, “Do you think George W. Bush is a Christian,” the same way? If he is genuine, I hope that he would.

James declares in his epistle, “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (James 4: 12, NKJV) Scott Walker’s answer is correct, he doesn’t know the state of the President’s soul. To conjecture on such matters would be “above his paygrade” indeed.

Disclaimer: This post is not an endorsement or repudiation of Scott Walker’s presidential candidacy and should not be taken as such. It is merely a commentary on the state of American politics and their attempts to sway voters through suggestive reporting.

Agree? Disagree? Please comment with your views below.