As a kid, and even now, I would get freaked out when I saw a 'BEWARE OF DOG' or 'DO NOT ENTER' sign. Partly because my parents conditioned me to take heed to the warnings and partly because of the wonder of what would happen if I disobeyed their warnings. Throughout the Bible there are many warnings that are given. Perhaps one of the most glaring (though there are many) in Jesus' ministry is when He was delivering the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). He warned that if a part of your life is leading you into sin you should cut it off. Why? Here is the warning: "It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell" (Matt. 5:30). These warnings are not meant to lead us to guilt which then motivates us to be godly. They are meant to be signs that force us to evaluate where we are at in our Christian lives.
Think of it this way: Imagine you are driving down the road one morning and to your surprise, there are no vehicles on the road. You think to yourself 'this is weird,' but you keep driving not thinking too much into until you see a sign that says 'ONE WAY' pointing the opposite direction you are going. Immediately you pull over and figure out a way to turn around. Why? Because you realize that if you keep going on the road you are going it could be disastrous. This is precisely what Biblical warnings do. They force us to slow down, evaluate, and turn around if we are heading in the wrong direction.
This is why 1 Thessalonians 5:19 is so scary to me: "Do not quench the Spirit" (ESV).
Immediately the question is what does it mean to quench the Spirit? To quench the Spirit means to have the ears of your heart clogged to the Spirit's voice. Quenching the Spirit doesn't mean the Holy Spirit stops speaking. Quenching the Spirit means that the Spirit is speaking, but because of your continued neglect of His voice, you can't hear Him.
Let that sink in. Right now, the Spirit of God may be speaking to you about an area of your life not conformed to Christ...
And you can't hear Him.
To quench the Spirit means to have the ears of your heart clogged to the Spirit's voice.
This is the scariest place a Christian can be: the Spirit is speaking, but you can't hear Him.
It is important to note that this is not an 'overnight process.' Quenching the Spirit happens in everyday situations throughout the day.
For example, you see someone out in public and the Spirit prompts you to share the Gospel with them. You begin to move toward that person to do it, but then in fear you back out and refuse. You are at home on your computer and a sexually-explicit ad pops up. The Spirit prompts you to exit the window and flee, but you stare at the image and fall into sexual sin. You are having a conversation with a friend from church and they begin to talk poorly about another church member you both know. The Spirit prompts you to redirect the conversation, but you instead jump in and tear down that person's character.
You quench the Holy Spirit by refusing to obey what He is leading you to do.
Again and again we could go with examples. But the point is this: You quench the Spirit by refusing to obey what He is leading you to do. And the more you disobey, the more you quench Him and hardened your heart until you get to the point that He is speaking, but you can't hear Him.
Friend, are you quenching the Holy Spirit? If God is gracious to grant you repentance (Romans 3) and show you where you have quenched His voice, will you turn back to Him?
We would do well to heed the warning of Hebrews 3:7 "Today, if you hear His voice, do not hardened your heart."
I am a Husband to Clarissa, Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, reader of many books, and tweeter at @brad_merchant.