Sometimes we forget we have the Holy Spirit living inside us. It’s such a perk to being followers of Jesus. Yet, we seem to have this ego or something that wants the recognition. We want to do things our own way and receive approval. Paul would have known this better than most. For years he was a strong Jewish leader. People feared him until his life was transformed by the Holy Spirit.
Now Paul wants to make sure that we, as well as his original readers, don’t ignore the power we have at our disposal. He says, “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” Why would we want to smother, restrain, or suppress the power that raised Jesus from the dead? That’s a very good question we should all ask ourselves. Regularly. We have all been gifted our own way of unleashing that power. What, then, is your super power?
We have another word of caution coming from Paul in this short reading. “Do not scoff at prophecies.” First off, we have to understand what a prophecy is and who we might hear prophecies from. It’s easy to point to the Bible and say, “Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or one of those guys.” That’s an good example of “who.” And if we read their words we’ll hear the messages they gave us from God. Those are prophecies.
While we’re called not to scoff (sneer or ridicule), we’re not supposed to accept blindly either. That’s why Paul goes on to say, “but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.” There have been and will continue to be false prophets that aren’t speaking God’s messages. A prophecy to be taken seriously, would require that it come from God. Truly come from God.
So how do we test these things? After asking the Holy Spirit inside us for discernment, we look to God’s word. Is there anything there to contradict what we are hearing? While we are listening for God’s whisper confirmation, we can check with other trusted believers for their input. You may often find that someone has been given a word of assurance about something and not really know who needs to hear it. Look for those encounters to happen when you pay attention and look for what is good.
“Stay away from every kind of evil.” That’s Paul’s final caution to this part of the closing section. It seems to be an all-inclusive warning. How many “kinds” of evil are there for heaven’s sake? I’m sure we could come up with quite a list. The safe thing to do, and the wisest, is to stay away from bad stuff.
Again, that Holy Spirit power inside us can really help us discern evil. Think of a bloodhound tracking a scent. When we realize that something doesn’t feel right, we need to lean into those feelings and figure out what’s up. When we allow ourselves to be open to the Holy Spirit, our sensors are often moved into high alert status. It’s when we deny ourselves and fail to listen to the Spirit’s promptings that we often get into trouble.
Think about how you are relying on God’s spirit inside you. How is your life being shaped by the creator of the universe living inside you? We should start a discussion about this in our Facebook group. Don’t rush past this little exercise. Ask for discernment and then be still.
Let’s pray … Lord, continue to work in me to reveal for me your master plan for my life. May I do a better job of tapping into the enormous power I have living inside me. Help me to trust you and listen to your Spirit whispering to me. My hear is open, and I am ready. In Jesus’ name. Amen.