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.

2 Comments

  • Mike Wright

    September 18, 2015

    Great thoughts, Chuck. Because the thought of committing an unforgivable sin is so petrifying for believers, I wonder if we avoid the whole category of sins against the Spirit. But, to make your point with different words, if God is living and active and the same God we meet in the pages of the Bible, then he is leading his people. The right thing at the wrong time would therefore be a sin against the Spirit… Such as giving great advice when the Spirit’s call to us was to hold our tongue and trust him. So perhaps we need to consider a spectrum: from the momentary sin of resisting or ignoring the Spirit (I’m guilty of this on an hourly basis), to hardened rejection of the Spirit’s call to trust in Christ. If that is his highest goal (I’m convinced it is), the blaspheming the Spirit may be another way to say “rejecting the grace freely offered to us through belief in Christ.” Sexual sin is a huge category… And I’d argue it falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

    • Chuck Livermore

      September 18, 2015

      I agree, Mike! Thanks for clarifying. You said what I was attempting to express but you did so with a “pastor’s heart.” I often use a sledgehammer.