Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. – 1Thess. 5:19-22 NIV
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The Devotionals for the last two days has dwelt mainly on the mentorship of the brethren in the Church in Thessalonica by the Apostle Paul, who through the support of the Holy Spirit can be regarded as the Spiritual father of the Church in that part of Asia – 1Thess. 4:1-5:10. He had taken up the extra responsibility to continue to provide guidance for the brethren there considering the persecution that confronted them as babies in the faith -1Thess. 2:1-3:13. It was not that hitherto, they did not know or worship the Almighty God, but like many still do today, they practiced a mode of worship that made them rely on personal actions of righteousness to get saved from the consequences of their transgressions, actions which the Bible compared to filthy rags and were not sufficient to achieve the desired objectives of redemption – Isa. 64:6. They were yet to be introduced to God’s righteousness for man which is Jesus Christ as they continued to depend the offering of all those animal sacrifices with the belief that they could avoid punishment of sins through such acts – Rom. 3:21.
This new doctrine being heralded by the Apostle Paul did not go down well with a significant number of the people in the city, just as it happened in other cities where the same message was preached – Acts 17:1-9. It was a very simple message that there is no other sacrifice necessary for salvation from the consequences of sin by man other than the single sacrifice already offered by Jesus Christ and all that was required for anyone who desires to benefit from this Grace, was to accept that this Jesus Christ came to the world, died and rose on the third day for the remission of sins, ascended into heaven and was going to return to judge the world, and that anyone who genuinely accepts him as Lord and Saviour will be exempted from the consequences of sin on that great Day of the Lord – Jn. 3:16; Heb. 10:26-31.
It seemed a pretty easy and straightforward requirement but some of the Jews were not willing to accept this as they had been grounded in the laws of God given to Moses and were not willing to consider this new divine solution to the redeem and return man from his fallen state to God, something that the old doctrine had failed to do – Heb. 8:7.
The Apostle Paul had in the course of this his first letter to the Church in Thessalonica recognised praised their faithfulness to the new teaching especially in the face of persecution and had also reminded them of the need to remain prepared for the Day of the Coming of the Lord when all acts will be judged and Jesus Christ will return to rapture all those who believe and have accepted him as Lord and Saviour – 1Thess. 1:2-10. In the last few verses of the last chapter of this his letter, he gave several Instructions that is expected to help them live together as brethren in peace and harmony and to further ensure that they remain in good stead with the Almighty God with regards to their faith in Him – 1Thess. 5:12-22. The scripture for today’s Devotional is a portion of these instructions given with the aim of helping them achieve divine objectives for man. In this section of his letter he focused on the Holy Spirit, who is the third person in the Trinity and whom Jesus Christ himself promised to send with the sole responsibility of convincing and convicting all people of their sins, reminding them of his teachings and exposing them to more teachings so that they can always be informed about the requirements of the Lord in all situations – Jn. 14:26-27; 16:1-15. That way the Christian will never stray from the path that the Almighty God has laid out either personally or as a group. The Bible says the Holy Spirit is the seal with which the believer is identified and confirmed as the child of God – Eph. 1:13; 4:30. There is no doubt that man will need this third member of the Trinity, as the lure of the flesh is constantly making it difficult to remain in the Will of the Almighty God. A personality of this nature will remain a constant voice letting man know the Will of the creator in every situation especially when spiritual leaders and mentors are not present to provide guidance or corrections. The Apostle Paul himself is aware of human limitation in this area and the threat that carnal desires will always pose to the decision of man to remain with the Almighty God, hence the decision to emphasise to the brethren then and now the need not to disregard the voice of the Holy Spirit.
This advise comes with the belief that they have already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit because it will be of no value for the one who is yet to be baptised in the Holy Spirit as such an individual will guided mainly by the carnal desires which can never result in spiritual growth. The one who desires to be guided by the Holy Spirit must personally ask and receive him as any other way including dependence on the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of another, may not produce the desired result. The true Christian must have a conscious memory of the process of asking and receiving the Holy Spirit, else the journey to being called a Christian will still be incomplete – Rom. 8:14.
It is only after this level of assurance has been attained that the advise of Paul can then be relevant. In the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, the Apostle Paul advises as follows;
1. Do not quench the Spirit. The Christian that desires to remain in faith in the midst of trials and persecutions must always encourage the spread of the influence of the Holy Spirit. Activities that will encourage the manifestation and growth of the Holy Spirit must be deliberately emphasised amongst the brethren and true knowledge about the significance of the Holy Spirit must be deliberately made available so that many will be aware of his special role and thus become desirous of him.
2. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. The Christian that intends to remain standing during persecutions must not deride prophecy. It is not unusual for prophecies to be ignored or outrightly condemned by some people who call themselves believers, but that is an assured path to falling in the face of challenges of life as the source of divine knowledge required to overcome such challenges would have been lost. It should be made known to these group of believers that prophecy remains one of the major ways in which the Almighty God communicates his thoughts to His people and anyone who intends to remain in the Faith must always hunger for His views on all issues – Lk. 11:13. It is true that there are false and fake prophets but that will not be sufficient excuse to thrash all prophecies as one may find oneself unconsciously grieving the Holy Spirit – Eph. 4:30. Instead the believer must seek for the gift of discernment from the Lord as against totally discarding all prophecies – 1Kgs. 3:7-9; 1Cor. 12:10. With this gift, prophecies are subjected to test so as to avoid the possible drawbacks that have been associated with fake and false prophecies or even due to the inconsistencies that can result from human frailties as the individual with a correct and divine prophecy today may become a medium for the negative spirit tomorrow. It is only the tested and proven prophecy that must be accepted and believed.
There is no doubt that the believer can not navigate the challenges of life without the support of the Almighty God which will be accessed only through clear communications with the Holy Spirit. The one who intends to remain standing on the Day of the Lord will thus need to take this advise seriously as the natural wisdom can never achieve supernatural and divine objectives. May the Almighty God grant us the ability to always commune with the Holy Spirit and the humidity to accept his leadership in Jesus name. Amen.