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Quench not the Spirit, I Thes. 5:19

The question has been asked; what does it mean to quench the Spirit? This is an excellent opportunity to examine a word to see what the King James translators meant when they used a word. By looking at the word in the three forms used in the King James Bible, "quench", "unquenchable" and "quenched", we see that wrath can be quenched, II Kings 22:17. Likewise, love is spoken of as being quenchable, Song 8:7; a lineage can be quenched, II Samuel 14:7; the power of a nation can be quenched, Isaiah 43:17.

We tend to think of the word in its more common form in which either thirst or fire is being quenched. Both of those examples are in your King James Bible. What becomes evident is that "to quench" means to extinguish a fire, a thirst, a movement or anything that can be suppressed. That brings us to the two times that the apostle Paul used the word.

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, Ephesians 6:16. The common message about this verse depicts a man using his shield to stop a fiery arrow from hitting him. That is neither what the verse says, nor an historically accurate depiction of what is really taking place.

In siege warfare an enemy would surround the walls of a city or castle. The siege then became a test of the will and strength of both armies. Those on the outside had unlimited access to food and water but in most cases could not break down the barriers keeping them out of the city. Those on the inside were protected by their walls but were in danger of running out of food and water. The hope of those on the inside was to break the will of the besiegers as they camped day after day with no results.

Those on the outside sought for ways to hasten the demise of those behind the walls. One way that struck fear into the hearts of those inside the walls was fire. Almost every structure inside an ancient city or castle was combustable. Roofs were often made of thatched straw. The enemy on the outside would dip an arrow into burning pitch (or tar) and shoot that arrow blindly over the wall.

The chances of a defender actually intercepting that arrow with his shield were very slim if not nil. When the arrow hit its target there would be a small little fire burning that the shooter hoped would quickly spread. What a quick and agile defender could do is smother that tiny flame with his shield. Keep in mind, water is scarce inside the walls. A determined man holding his shield over a tiny fire and cutting off its oxygen was what was needed. He used his shield to quench the fiery dart.

It is common on the believer's life to have a stray thought enter his heart. That thought might be unclean sexually. It might be a bitter memory of a brother or sister in the house of God. Regardless of what it is, the thought is designed to envelop the believer in the mental fires of temptation to sin. When such a dart hits, the believer is to take the faith that God has instilled in him through his study, meditation or memorizing of the Word of God and quench that thought. He cannot stop the dart from hitting. He cannot stop the thought from entering his heart, but he can quickly cut off that thought's oxygen supply through the application of the Word of God.

What then shall we say of Quench not the Spirit, I Thessalonians, 5:19? Actually, a very similar process takes place. The thought that enters the believer's heart is a Godly thought or impulse that the believer quickly seeks to quench through doubt or reasoning. In special service the Spirit of God might prompt a believer to give $100.00 to a particular person. It is the nature of carnal man within us to quench that thought. We reason within ourselves that the amount is too high, or that we could never make it until the next paycheck.

Perhaps the believer is prompted to stop and witness to a friend or to comfort a friend. The carnal believer manages to quench that thought by reasoning that the time is not right, or any one of many worldly rationalizations that smother the oxygen in the Spirit of God's prompting. A mature believer learns to obey the promptings of the Spirit of God quickly. The carnal novice will too often quench those impulses with his own reasoning. He will learn when he has wept enough tears over what he could have done.

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