Many Christians understand the misery that accompanies a personal grieving of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is an internal sense of unease, at times an overwhelming awareness within that we have trespassed against our Lord and God. On occasion, God forbid, the hand of Almighty chastisement enhances the anguish of internal separation that such sin causes to rip at our soul.
But sometimes our resistance to the Spirit revolves around not around positive or negative sins, but rather it involves quenching the Spirit through legalist activities. In grieving the Spirit, we act against His holiness and His will. In quenching the Spirit, we refuse to act according to His holiness and His will. Worse, we sometimes seek to prevent others from acting according to the Spirit’s perfect holiness and will.
Consider the tale of Rebecca, her parents, and the servant of Abraham as it is relayed in Genesis chapter twenty-four. Here we see the servant, having already established that Rebecca is the chosen one to wed Isaac, the son of Abraham. Now he is ready to go, anxious to see his mission completed. However, Rebecca’s parents seek for a ten-day delay to the journey.
“Hinder me not,” said the servant, “seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master,” (Genesis 24:56).
Now this servant is a typology of the Holy Spirit at work within the world and among the body of the church. Having stirred our hearts and brought us to the living Christ via the truth of the Gospel, He now seeks to complete the tasks of sanctification and preparation that must precede the second coming. He works to present before Christ a chaste virgin, fit for an eternal bond with perfect holiness. This is a work that must be accomplished via the power of God rather than the works of men. It is a work that begun in faith, and it will by grace, through faith, be brought to completion.
The Letter of the Law Kills
Wee live among a nation of grace killers, men and women who have taken it upon themselves to be God’s personal judges concerning the definition of righteousness. They are like the parents of Rebecca, blinded to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Thus they live under the false impression that God is a dictator of rules and regulations, or that it is all about them and their personal desires and understandings. In their hands, the bible becomes a hammer, yet it is a hammer that is fashioned after their personal interpretations of God’s perfect will. They have not the spirit of agape love. Neither do they understand the mighty redemption power of grace left in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Thus they are driven to regulate and control all come near unto their domain.
They live and attend legalized assemblies, organized functions, and man directed religious affairs, yet they fear the power of permitting the Holy Spirit to direct the order of the meetings. So men in fine robes do all the talking, and the songs are ordered according to a weekly list, and there are seldom heard within the assembly spontaneous shouts of praise and worship. The Holy Spirit of God remains quenched within that member of the body. So too does all lasting joy.
Such church assembles live in death? They have no room for dance, no joy for praise, and they resent any whom standout with an anointing that surpasses their own dull existence. In ignorance, they resist the authority of God to act according to His own directives. And He, being gentle, permits them to remain in a state of ordered confusion.
“Quench not the Spirit,” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
When a Christian congregation limits the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a manner that hinders the Spirit’s selective use of human instruments, that congregation is guilty of quenching the Spirit. The Spirit would speak through whom He wishes, laymen and women included. The choice of voice is His alone.
Human arrangements and conventions often choke the power of a God-given ministry. Church liberty is not limited to preachers, men in black robes, or stiff-necked Sunday school teachers. Remember the dancing of a King and the scornful reproach of an ungodly woman:
“And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart,” (2 Samuel 6:14-16).
Is there dancing at your church? Is the Holy Spirit welcome to take charge? Do you enable Him to use the vessels as He has furnished them, are do your rituals override the power that could be?
I urge you to be free. Live in grace. We who know God have seen the power of His mercy. We understand the wonder of His gift to mankind. Sin, though it knock upon my door can never overcome that awesome image of Jesus Christ bearing all for the likes of sinners in an ungodly world. Neither can it slip beneath the knowledge of such an unbelievable act of forgiveness. Grace does not enable Christians to sin, it empowers Christians to live a just and godly life.
This message is a paraphrase from the works of C. Ernest Tatham, an author for the Emmaus Doctrinal Study Series as published by the Emmaus Correspondence School. I pray it serve to help release some of the captives of legalism.