The apostle Paul brings two immense challenges to the Church that impacts the way that we conduct our lives.
Neither of the two challenges are issues that would immediately spring to mind when considered against the vast wisdom and insight that Paul demonstrates as he unpacks the astonishing truth of the gospel.
There are lots of things that Paul wants us to consider, and so much of it is either in the present or past tense. We died with Christ, we were buried with Him in baptism, we have been made holy, we are in Christ, we are the righteousness of God in Christ. So much emphasis is placed on the sheer supremacy of Christ in all things, that everything of eternal value and significance has not only been achieved by Him but He sustains all things, physical, spiritual and cosmological by His powerful word. He’s holding everything together, with a mere word. That’s a good way to define the word awesome.
Into the mix of all these things Paul shares a profound understanding of salvation and even ventures to speak with great authority about the Last Supper. Paul wasn’t there, the rest of the apostles were. They heard and saw everything that happened in that room together, witnessed the bread being broken by Jesus and the wine being shared – but it is Paul, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit who knows and fully understands what was going on there, right under their noses. Paul also knows the ramifications of what happened, not from logic but by the Holy Spirit.
It is with this conviction that he speaks to the Ephesians and to the Thessalonians his two great admonitions, and knowing as he did that he was being inspired by the Spirit to write Scripture which would enrich the entire church and profit us too, we must heed his advice; do not grieve or quench the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30)
We live in an age when it has become a common-place to defend ourselves against some of the charges of the Scripture. If it makes us feel uncomfortable then it can be easy to claim that a demand being placed on us is control, manipulation or, the ultimate put-down, ‘legalism’. We need to be honest with ourselves. There are things in life that can grieve the Spirit of God. He is not like us. He’s not a more holy form of us. He’s God, and we are not. What is acceptable to us, is not always so for Him.
It is because of some of the things that mankind finds acceptable that the wrath of God is coming. So we have to ask ourselves daily hard questions about our words, thoughts and deeds. Am I grieving the Spirit of God by what I say, think or do? Am I quenching, minimising, dismissing or sabotaging what the Spirit of God wants to do, with cynicism, scepticism or disbeliefi?
Now, care has to be taken also by leaders who may assume that because they have a position of responsibility, that anyone who expresses anything contrary to them is grieving or quenching the Spirit. It sounds rude, but to the pure all things are pure – remember Baalam’s ass!
Do everything in your power to follow the leading of the Spirit, and make it a personal priority to always be sensitive to God and not grieve or quench the wonderful work of the Spirit – always endeavouring to be one who looks for the plank in their own eye, rather than the speck in another’s.
Cooperate with the wonderful Holy Spirit.
- refusing to believe God’s ability to intervene – thus questioning His divinity! (back)