1 Thess. 5:19-22
The ending part of this Epistle is full of exhortations, and duties for all of us Christians as we wait for the coming of the Lord. There are five commands that Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit had written here. The rapture is imminent and for me, these five must be obeyed urgently, completely, and faithfully.
I. Quench not the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19)
A. The Holy Spirit does so many things in the life of the believer. I cannot put them all here but I would mention some of them;
1. He assures the believer of sonship. (Rom. 8:16,17; Gal. 4:6).
2. He seals the believer. (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13,14).
3. He fills the believer with Himself, giving a victorious life. (Acts 1:4-8; Eph. 5:18).
4. He sanctifies the believer, sets him apart unto holiness. (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2).
5. He abides continuously with the believer (Jn. 14:16).
6. He takes the Word of God and teaches the believer. (Jn. 14:26, 1 Cor. 2:13).
7. He brings to remembrance the things that we have faithfully learned. (Jn. 14:26).
B. The Bible commonly depicts the Holy Spirit like a flame. The word “quench” carries the idea of putting out a light of a torch, lamp or fire (Matt. 12:20; 25:8; Heb. 11:34). Paul uses “quench” metaphorically to speak of hindering the operations of the Holy Spirit. People who refuse to submit to the teaching of the Word “quench” the Spirit.
C. Quench also means to stifle (suffocate) or silence. He is quenched by sin, by stubbornness, by self-will, by worldliness, by carnality. “To quench the Spirit means to stifle His work in our midst, to limit and hinder Him. Man-made traditions and disunity in the church quenches Him. Rebellion in the local church against its leadership quenches the Spirit’s ministry in that church.
Illustration 1: No Room for the Spirit
D. L. Moody said, “I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled.” Source unknown
II. Despise not prophesying (1 Thess. 5:20)
A. The word prophesyings comes from a word that means “to speak proclaim publicly.” In our context it is referring to the public declaration of God’s word. This is the preaching of the word.
B. The word despise means “to regard as nothing, to despise utterly, to treat with contempt, to bring to naught, treat with scorn.” This is a very strong word that means to act as if the message means nothing. The idea is not to discount and or scoff at the preaching of God’s word. It is interesting that the Lord has just warned us not to quench the Spirit, and He follows it up with despise not prophesyings. One of the sure ways to quench the Spirit of God is to despise the message and/or the
messenger of God. This is a tough command for the days in which we live. People do not want to hear the preaching of the Word. This is not really a new problem. God’s Word has always been despised.
C. Prophesyings is secondarily preaching the Word. “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3).
D. Preaching is not to be despised; it is to be heard and tested with Scripture and obeyed when it is found to be in conformity to Scripture. The preacher is to preach as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11), and God’s people must treat biblical preaching with respect. Christians must quietly hear it. The they must focus their attention on it; they must seek to capture God’s message from it. They must not despise the preaching when the grammar is imperfect or when the preacher makes mistakes of logic, etc. As long as the preaching conforms to God’s Word, it is
not to be despised. But the preaching is also to be tested by God’s Word, as we see in the next verse, and nothing is to be accepted that is contrary to God’s Word. New Testament believers are not blind followers of men.
Illustration 2: Theodore Epp
Theodore Epp, founder of Back to the Bible radio ministry, realized something was wrong when he stopped receiving critical mail. Convicted that he was not challenging the flock enough, he changed his preaching. “I’m afraid that when I’m pleasing everybody, I’m not pleasing the Lord,” he later said, “and pleasing the Lord is what counts.”
This is not to suggest that a pastor is only successful when he is upsetting people! But he must be certain that he is first and foremost faithful to the One he serves. He is fulfilling a divine commission when he preaches. Just as an ambassador is entrusted not with his own message but with his superior’s message, so the minister is entrusted with the Word of God. Before it is delivered, therefore, every message should be laid at the foot of His throne with one question: “Is it faithful to You, my Lord?” Or as one German pastor would always pray in the pulpit, “Cause my mind to fear whether my heart means what I say.”
The Body, Charles W. Colson, 1992, Word Publishing, p. 121
III. Prove all things. (1 Thess. 5:21).
A. God’s people are to prove all things. “Prove” is dokimázo, “test, try, discern, distinguish, approve” (CWSB). It is translated “discern” (Lk. 12:56), “try” (1 Cor. 3:13; 1 Jn. 4:1), “examine” (1 Cor. 11:28), “approve” (1 Cor. 16:3).
1. To prove all things is to test everything by God’s Word to see if it is true or false, right or
wrong, good or evil. Everything in life is to be tested by Scripture. We are to prove doctrine, church practice, decisions, friendships, employment, music, fashion, entertainment and leisure, social media, everything.
2. “Prove” is present tense, indicating a way of life. Every believer is to have a testing mindset. This is the way of spiritual protection. It is the way of the will of God.
3. Always remember that the Bible is our final authority in all matters. It is our standard for truth and righteousness.
Illustration 3: Never Disappointed
A pastor who visited an old man suffering from painful rheumatism found him with his Bible open in front of him. The minister noticed that the word “proved” was written repeatedly in the margin. He turned over a few pages and found, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” “Proved.” And so, it went on through the Book. Next to John 1:12 he had written “Proved.” He had received Christ by believing and had indeed become a child of God. He had proved that promise of God’s Word. Millions of other born-again believers could write “proved” next to this verse. There isn’t a single one who has put this promise of God to the test and been disappointed.
Illustrations of Bible Truths.
IV. Hold fast what is good (1 Thess. 5:21b)
A. Once we test a teaching against the Bible, then we hold on to that truth with the confidence that this is what God says. After we search the Scriptures, there comes a point where we need stability in what we believe. The phrase words “hold fast” means to have and hold. First, we gain truth, then we retain it. If we constantly open ourselves to new things without the appropriate testing, we introduce instability into our Christian experience. We come to settled convictions by extensive study, not by impulsively embracing some new idea. The word “good” is the term for something profitable or useful. God’s Word is profitable for our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
V. Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thess. 5:22)
A. God’s people are to separate from the evil of this world. “Abstain” is a divine commandment.
B. The biblical standard of separation is very strict. It means to avoid evil, to stay away from it, to refuse to engage in it, to refuse to be a party to it. We are to abstain from “all appearance” of evil, from all suspicious things.
C. Here is a verse that answers a lot of questions. I often hear people ask; Can I do this? May I go here? Is it all right if I wear this? Let me ask you a question. Does it have the appearance of wrong? Could it be mistaken as evil? Something may not necessarily be evil, but it may appear to be evil. If it has the appearance, Paul tells God’s people to abstain from it.
D. Rock concerts with all the smoking, drinking, drug use, immodest dress, sensual dancing of the singers and the musicians, the dancing lights, the projection image in the screen are all to be avoided because of this command.
While we are waiting for the return of the Lord, we must do these five very important commands. Quench not the Spirit, despise not prophesying, prove all things, hold fast which is good, and abstain from all appearance of evil.