Question & Answer Forum: The Spirit & Spiritual Growth

What is the difference between grieving and quenching the Spirit of God?

These are two of the possible sins against the Holy Spirit. Others are: resisting (Acts 7:51), blaspheming (Mark 3:29), doing despite to, or insulting (Heb 10:29), lying to (Acts 5:3), and tempting (Acts 5:9). The first three have been, and can be, committed by unbelievers, (especially Jewish), the last two by unbelievers or believers, while grieving and quenching are only linked with believers in Scripture.

Knowing that the Holy Spirit is a person, more than an influence or effectual power of God, tells us that He can be grieved by bad or evil behavior on the part of individuals. “Grieve” can be translated “to make sorrowful, to cause grief, or offend” and it indicates that these behaviors (not solely those of Eph 4:25-31) will have that effect on this holy Person. The fact that He is the “holy” Spirit of God, teaches that those “unholy” actions offend His holiness and must be avoided. The verb tense indicates that it was a characteristic past action of the believers’ lives that must terminate, and they must do it. Wuest translates it as “stop grieving the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God.” These actions should have been, and must be, terminated to avoid causing grief to this Person of the Godhead Who is so essential to one’s spiritual development. This should cause us to carefully avoid attitudes (vv26, 31) and actions of either words (vv25, 29, 31), or deeds (v28), and replace them with spiritual characteristics (v32). We rightly condemn immoral acts, heretical statements, or evil actions that are contrary to God’s Word; however, we should never ignore or make excuses for wrong attitudes or practices depicted in this passage. They are also contrary to His work to produce Christian character in each one of us and should be corrected.

Quenching the Spirit (1Thes 5:19) is in the context of the operating grace of God in the assembly or the individual believer. To “quench” (eight times in the New Testament) in other passages is in the context of putting out a fire, such as in Matthew 12:20 and Mark 9:44-48. Used metaphorically here, it indicates that it is possible for a believer or an assembly to extinguish His effective working, by not allowing Him to function as He would in the direction, exercise, and use of spiritual gift, or in directing other activities of God’s people. This could result from a believer not exercising their gift or not being involved in spiritual service. It could also result from an assembly preventing the function of one whom God desires to use. The Spirit desires to guide and control God’s people, individually and collectively; He raises up, uses, and directs according to His will. The Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts (1Cor 12:11) and regulates and controls the exercise of these gifts (1Cor 14).

The latter part of 1 Thessalonians 5 gives some triads of truth. Verse 19 begins one triad and the following verses expand its meaning. Prophesying, or the unfolding of God’s mind in divine truth, is not to be despised, disdained, or unappreciated. This would quench the Spirit. Rather, it is to be received, but those who listen must test what is being said (1Cor 14:29), and adhere to that which is correct. Paul told Timothy not to allow anyone to despise his youth (1Tim 4:12), for in so doing, they would negate the ministry he was giving to the saints by the Spirit.

Joel Portman

What does it mean to “add to your faith” in 2 Peter 1:5?

One of Peter’s purposes in writing was to stimulate spiritual growth in his readers, as we see from the last verse: “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (3:18). That growth began with their faith in the Lord Jesus which they received through the righteous dealings of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ (1:1). Peter, like other New Testament writers, emphasizes that faith always produces results that will demonstrate its reality in the life, and he is teaching that in this passage. Moreover, it is spiritual growth in the midst of trials and pressures that were the result of their testimony for the Lord Jesus. They were expected to develop spiritually and demonstrate that development by expressing those virtues that were the result of their faith.

Other good translations may help. Darby’s New Translation gives it, “… using every diligence, in your faith have also virtue,” while the RV expresses it as “adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue.” Other versions express it in a similar way. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines the word en as “in, by, or with,” so that we have every reason to learn that Peter is saying that within the faith that we have in Christ, there is to be virtue, knowledge, temperance (control of self), patience (endurance), godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (love). One could see these Christian virtues as the sevenfold expression of what faith produces and how it is seen. Without the evidence and results in one’s life, faith is inoperative and its existence is questionable (James 2:26).

These characteristics were fully expressed in Christ in the days of His flesh. We also see examples of them in men of faith in our Bible. Believers can also express these qualities through the working of the divine energy in us (2Peter 1:3), the result of the “exceeding great and precious promises” of His Word, and the personal exercise (diligence) of the believer. It should be our exercise to demonstrate the qualities that reflect Christ in our lives through the operation of His Spirit in us.

We do not develop these qualities by concentrating our attention on them in themselves, but rather by occupation with Christ and His Word and through subjection to the control of the Holy Spirit. If they are seen in one’s life, it will give evidence that one is growing “in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Peter follows that list of faith’s expressions with an exhortation in verse 8 and a warning in verse 9. These things are in the believer through faith in Christ Jesus. Kenneth Wuest says, “The possession of the Christian virtues by the believer is a natural, expected thing by reason of the fact that he has become a partaker of the divine nature.” But they should do more than simply be resident, they should “abound,” which is to say that they should increase to the point of abundance. Our exercise should be that these practical demonstrations of faith’s reality might be seen clearly and practically in our lives as we “grow in grace.”

Joel Portman