Ways we extinguish the Holy Spirit

Renew / Know The Holy Spirit
God is a consuming fire and the Bible records numerous instances where God appeared as fire, including at Pentecost where the Holy Spirit appeared as fire on each of the disciples. Fires, however, can fizzle out on their own or be actively quenched. So it is with the Holy Spirit. We are warned to not quench or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Thankfully, the Bible provides some guidelines on what to avoid. It is our responsibility to keep the Holy Spirit’s fire going.

Note: This post is a continuation of a previous one called Welcome the Holy Spirit’s transformative work in us.

Hebrews 12:29 ESV for our God is a consuming fire.

Acts 2:2-4 ESV And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 ESV Do not quench the Spirit.

When we repent and are baptised in Jesus’ name, we receive the first instalment of the Holy Spirit. This is when we become temples of the Holy Spirit. As we allow Him to convict us and purify us of our sins, we become “vessels for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to God and ready for every good work.”

Acts 2:38 ESV And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NLT It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

2 Timothy 2:21 ESV Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

The fire of the Holy Spirit can be extinguished

In the Old Testament, God gave many specific instructions for the upkeep of His Temple, including keeping the fire on the altar continuously burning. This fire was placed there to remind His people of His presence and of their need for Him. Now that our bodies are God’s temples, we need to keep His presence burning too.

Leviticus 6:12 ESV The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings.

1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

When we ignore or disobey the Holy Spirit, we snuff out the fire of God which produces “what is good and right and true” in us. As we continue to willfully rebel in this way, we increasingly grieve the Holy Spirit and bring God sorrow. Eventually, we are the ones who extinguish God’s fire and light altogether and go back to spiritual darkness and death. By rejecting the Holy Spirit, who is the One appointed to “guarantee that we will be saved on the day of redemption,” we reject God Himself. This is what will lead to “a fearful expectation of judgment”.

Ephesians 4:22-24,30 NLT throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. … And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:5:8-9 NLT For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

Hebrews 10:26-27 ESV For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

Hebrews 12:25 ESV See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.

Ways we extinguish the Holy Spirit

1. Relying on human logic and rationalisation

God’s ways are much higher than ours. No one has the ability to fully comprehend God’s plans and intentions using human intellect. How can the created ever hope to surpass our Creator in wisdom or thought?

Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirits comes as our Helper. He will help us understand God’s thoughts and will for us.

1 Corinthians 2:11-13 ESV For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

John 14:26 ESV But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Therefore, instead of rushing ahead and getting things done the way we have always done them, we can practice slowing down and seeking God’s wisdom every hour of every day. Many of us have lived by our own strength and rationale all our lives, and may initially use our own minds and strength out of habit. This can prevent us from developing a vibrant relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Now, we can develop the discipline of seeking God for direction first. Sometimes, He may even ask us to do something that may seem unexpected and odd according to our (limited) human logic. Nonetheless, we should be prepared to obey. One can always wait on the Holy Spirit for confirmation by quieting our hearts and asking, “Holy Spirit, is this what You are asking me to do?” We can also test any promptings God’s Word, and if possible, by praying with trusted fellow believers.

It is an important spiritual discipline to humble ourselves to always be taught and led by the Holy Spirit. Let us not resist the Holy Spirit because we have elevated faith in our logic over faith in God’s Spirit. When we follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting, we will be delighted by how we grow closer to God.

Galatians 5:5 ESV For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

2. Acting on good intentions rather than God’s will

Our good intentions may not be in line with God’s plans. We need to ensure that we don’t allow our feelings or ideas about what is “the right thing to do” to supersede God’s will, not matter how good and pure our intentions may be. When we carry out plans that are not aligned with God’s, we can heap “sin upon sin.”

Isaiah 30:1 NIV “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin;

Peter, for instance, genuinely loved Jesus and meant well but he did not understand God’s intentions for Jesus to go to the Cross. Instead of asking God what His will was, Peter ended up telling Jesus what to do. In response, Jesus reprimanded Peter for only seeing things from a limited human perspective.

Matthew 16:21-23 ESV From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

God’s higher plans can sometimes seem unfathomable and bewildering to us because we do not have a clear and infinite view of the past, present and future like God does. Therefore, we need to rely on God’s Spirit for His perfect wisdom, understanding, and counsel.

Isaiah 11:2 ESV And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

3. Giving in to fear and anxiety

Many things generate fear and anxiety in our hearts. Even well-meaning advice can create unnecessary worry. Have we prepared enough? What will our future look like? Are we going to be accepted or rejected? Will our work meet with approval When we don’t walk in power, love, and self-control but choose to follow a spirit of fear instead, we will quench the Holy Spirit. Also, see Fear, an ungodly use of imagination.

2 Timothy 1:7 ESV for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

It is natural to experience some nervousness when we encounter something new or unfamiliar, but ruminating on the possible scenarios demonstrates a lack of faith. God’s ways are always the best. The Bible says they are beyond what we can imagine. Thinking about all the options, therefore, will end up being a waste of time and energy. All we need to do is to ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to what He has prepared for us.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Anxious thoughts simply create a buzzing “white noise” at the back of our minds that drown out the Holy Spirit’s gentle whisper. Let us take our thoughts captive to obey God, so that we are kept in His perfect peace.

2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Isaiah 26:3 ESV You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

4. Indulging in worldly pursuits or fleshly cravings

The Spirit of God is glorious and above all things, and Father God is passionate about His Spirit whom He has placed in us. An appropriate response would be to acknowledge His presence and honour Him.

James 4:4-5 NLT You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.

When we chase after the things of this world, such as material success, passing trends, popularity, advancement or earthly knowledge for instance, we don’t realise that we fill our hearts and minds with things that may satisfy our flesh but not our soul. Accolades fade away and emotional highs run out. We end up feeling empty and anxious again. This causes millions of people to seek the next new thing to address the lack of satisfaction they feel inside their souls. It is a life of striving and restlessness. Only the Holy Spirit can satisfy our souls with deep joy, peace, and hope. But this first requires us to thirst after God, rather than the world.

We can also snuff out God’s Spirit by the way we misuse our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit. We grieve the Holy Spirit every time we choose to behave in a way that is contrary to His nature. The more we give in to the cravings of our fallen fleshly nature with gossip, mindless entertainment, excessive eating and drinking or sexual immorality, the more we slowly extinguish the Holy Spirit and our ability to overcome sin.

Galatians 5:17 ESV For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

This also includes exposing God’s Spirit inside us to the lyrics of heavy metal rock music, the gore and violence of horror, zombie or vampire movies, or the debauchery of pornography. The Bible says we fill our bodies with darkness when we expose our eyes to unhealthy things. The Holy Spirit will not force Himself on us if we choose to fill ourselves with darkness, rather than with Him.

Matthew 6:22-23 NLT “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

5. Losing self-control and not being sober-minded

There are many ways this world offers us to numb our pain or our stress. Alcohol is one of them, drugs is another.

Social culture and advertisements depict alcohol as the solution to sadness, loneliness, and rejection but they will never show us the truth; that drunkenness often leads to physical and spiritual destruction. The Holy Spirit is a spirit of self-control and drunkenness is the opposite of that. See Drunkenness opposes the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18 ESV And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

The Bible warns us to be sober-minded because we have an enemy that seeks to destroy us. When we are drunk, we leave our sub-conscience wide open to the influence of evil spirits associated with debauchery. Even though we may physically recover from our alcoholic hangovers, we have already unknowingly given Satan a foothold in our lives. The same applies to drugs.

1 Peter 5:8 ESV Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

6. Idol worship

2 Corinthians 6 makes it very clear that God will not tolerate His temple being associated with idols. When we participate in or are associated with idol worship, we “defile ourselves” with things that God detests. The Holy Spirit will not dwell in people who do not keep themselves separated from idol worship. Let us, therefore, be sure to honour the wishes of God’s Spirit.

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ESV What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Just as any tourist will immediately check out of a foul, filthy hotel, we cannot expect Him to stay when we keep our temples defiled. If we have exposed ourselves to family idols, superstitions, fortune telling, witchcraft and other things that God detests, let us ask for His forgiveness and cleansing so that He will make His dwelling place with us again. Also, see What God’s Word says about traditional Asian beliefs and customs.

Ezekiel 37:23,27 ESV They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

A testimony 

“I was at a prayer meeting where we were all encouraged to ask the Holy Spirit to let us experience more of Him. We gathered in groups of three or four. As the others prayed for me, I felt an internal resistance, even though I was telling myself to let go and receive fully from the Holy Spirit. Someone suggested that I release my control to God, and as much as I wanted to, I felt “torn” inside. There seemed to be a spirit of unbelief working inside of me.

Then I somehow felt and knew that I needed to cut ungodly soul ties with all the different churches (Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Charismatic, Evangelical) that I’ve been a part of. As I did this, I also remembered an agreement I was made to sign at one church to never talk openly about the gift of tongues or use it. This grieved me because I received the gift many years prior, but I submitted to that demand because of Hebrews 13:17. 

Hebrews 13:17 ESV  Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

In my heart, I always knew that I was turning my back on God by that agreement, because speaking in tongues is biblical and is one of the signs that follows believers. One time, I was led to pray in tongues for a friend. I felt very guilty and conflicted because I felt I was being disobedient to my church leaders.

Mark 16:17-18 ESV  And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Anyway, I prayed to repent and revoke that agreement with that church, and re-dedicate my obedience to God’s Word alone and not man’s pressure.

At this point, I felt a gush of joy and couldn’t help but laugh. My friend immediately said that my face became brighter and she felt something leave through my hand (she was holding my hand). Someone else said that I looked relieved. I personally also felt the tightness in my body leave. Physically and spiritually, I feel great!

I now feel released to do what the Bible tells us to do. I had always struggled to obey the Holy Spirit for fear of what my pastors may object to and carried an inner burden of “guilt” and “accusation”. I know I don’t have to carry that burden anymore. After a few months, I stopped attending that church after I found a small community of believers who truly obey God’s Word. God provided a way out. Amen!”

Galatians 1:10 ESV  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Also, see
Drunkenness opposes the Holy Spirit
How to test for the Holy Spirit
Living a holy life, free from sin’s power
The Holy Spirit as our perfect Counsellor
The role of the Holy Spirit in our salvation
7 things that block the fruit of the Holy Spirit
What it feels like to be purified by the Holy Spirit
Welcome the Holy Spirit’s transformative work in us


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