As a boy I had a favorite Aunt on my mother's side of the family. She was my Aunt Marge. She was my favorite for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that there was always something good to eat at her house. She and my Uncle Del lived in the home where my grandparents had lived. I remember that it was a very small house and like many old houses it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. In the winter they had a large stove that sat on one side of the living room. Aunt Marge's chair was on one side of the stove and Uncle Del's was on the other. Beside Uncle Del's chair was a stack of newspapers and magazines. Beside Aunt Marge's chair was a large stack of fabric that she would cut into small squares to be used in quilting. Aunt Marge was a quilter…she did it all by hand! She would follow a pattern, but each quilt was unique because of the various fabric colors and textures that she used. It seems that many folks have a theology like those patchwork quilts. A little of this, a little of that, and they put it all together and when they are finished…they really do not know what they believe! They have listened to radio preachers, watched the TV evangelists, and attended churches, and as a result, they have accepted all sorts of things! Patchwork is great for quilts, but nor for theology! The Bible warns us of destructive heresies, false teachings, myths and doctrines of demons. Growing Christians have learned to carefully discern what is true and what is false.
We have been looking at the subject of Growing Spiritually over the last several weeks. We have seen that there are some identifying marks of believers who are growing spiritually. They are…
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
We add to our list of characteristics this evening, 'Careful Discernment'. Someone who is maturing in the faith learns to practice careful discernment. Our text gives us three keys to discernment. First, don't quench the Spirit. Second, don't despise prophecies. Third, test everything by truth.
I. Don't Quench the Spirit (v.19).
A. What it doesn't mean:
1. It doesn't mean anything goes as long as we 'say' it is of the Holy Spirit.
2. Some folks are afraid to discern the truth for fear they might go against the Spirit of God.
3. But the Holy Spirit does not work in opposition to the Word of God!
4. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth concerning that kind of thinking.
(1 Corinthians 14:40) Let all things be done decently and in order.
5. It also doesn't that we can lose our salvation, that the Holy Spirit comes and goes in our life.
(Ephesians 1:13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
(Ephesians 4:30) And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 6. He doesn't come and go but abides permanently... 'until the day of redemption'.
B. What it does mean:
1. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit indwells us in order to leads us, teach us, and comfort us.
2. His ministry is to help us discern truth, the truth about God and about ourselves.
(John 16:13a) "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…"
3. The word "Quench" means "to extinguish, put out, squelch or suppress."
4. Evidently, in the young church at Thessalonica, this was happening.
5. We aren't told exactly what was happening, but there was reason enough for the Lord to warn them and warn us!
6. How might we 'Quench the Spirit'?
a. Ignoring His Conviction.
(John 16:8) And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
b. Not Yielding to His Control
(Ephesians 5:18-19) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
c. Not Allowing Him to Lead Us.
(Galatians 5:16) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Note: God has given us His Spirit to lead us, guide us and teach us. His role is to help us discern truth and God's will for our lives. Let's learn to listen to Him. Let's be careful not to ignore Him.
II. Don't Despise Prophesyings (v.20)
A. What Does This Mean?
1. When Paul uses the word "prophesyings," he means authoritative messages from God.
a. The Old Testament prophets did not speak of their own accord but punctuated their messages with "Thus says the Lord."
b. Their messages were warnings for the people to repent and promises of what God would do in the future.
c. In the New Testament we find the same thing.
d. John the Baptist called for repentance because of the coming Kingdom of God.
2. All biblical "prophecy" contains both fore-telling and forth-telling.
3. Even now, when I stand and declare the Word of God to you, biblically this is prophesying!
4. Despising the prophesyings have to do with the message of the Word of God!
B. How do we avoid 'Despising the Prophesyings'?
1. The word "despise" means to count lightly it is the opposite of the word esteem.
2. Let me give you an example:
a. I deliver a message from the Word of God.
b. You listen, but you choose to disregard the message.
c. Perhaps you say…that is just the Pastor's interpretation.
d. You do not esteem the message as important or authoritative for your life!
e. That is despising the prophesyings!
3. God and His Word, the Bible, is the only source of 'prophesyings'.
4. It is God's revealed message for mankind, and we are to hear the Word of the Lord and obey it.
III. Do Examine Everything (v21-22).
A. Prove All Things.
1. Once again we see that God calls upon us to carefully examine or prove all things.
2. It carries the idea of testing something in to determine its true nature or character.
3. Not only are we to discern teaching, but everything in life.
(1 Corinthians 10:31) Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
4. We are to carefully examine every aspect of our lives.
5. The growing Christian will be one who exercises careful discernment in their life.
(1 Corinthians 10:23) All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
B. Hold Fast that which is Good.
1. This isn't difficult to understand.
2. To "hold fast" simply means to get a firm grip.
3. On what are we to hold fast? That which is good.
4. How do we know what is good? By proving all things!
5. There are some things we should let go of tonight…
6. And there are some other things we should strengthen our grip upon!
C. Abstain from all appearance of Evil.
1. Abstain is a strong graphic word.
2. Literally it means "to turn away from."
3. Avoid the evil that we find along the way.
4. Growing up on the farm, I learned to be careful where I stepped as I walked through the pasture.
5. We need to be careful where we walk…to avoid stepping into evil.
6. The word 'appearance' doesn't mean just what seems to be evil…it means every form or every kind of evil that we find along the way.
7. Stay away! Don't touch! Keep out! These are warnings that we can easily understand.
8. Paul warns us to carefully discern so that we can hold fast to that which is good and to avoid that which is evil.
Careful discernment is another very important characteristic of a believer that is growing spiritually. They will not be easily swayed by false teaching. Because they do not quench the Spirit, they do not despise the prophesyings, and they prove all things.
Where are we tonight in our walk with God? Do we need to work on this area of our Christian life? Perhaps you are here this evening and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior. I invite you to come. Whatever the need…come tonight.