“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22) The term ‘good’ and ‘evil’ used in this verse is not about general goodness and evil but it is rather referring to the prophecies. In other words, it says not to despise the prophecies, but to take what is good among them and discard what is evil. “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” also shows that if we are not careful, it is possible to put out the fire of the Holy Spirit while there can be evil in things that people prophesied. Ultimately, there is a need for good judgement when it comes to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Similarly, Paul gives lengthy instructions regarding speaking in tongues and prophecy in 1 Corinthians 12-14.
Unfortunately, there are people who do not yet understand the work of the Holy Spirit and who talk about various wrong examples, claiming that the work of evil spirits is too severe and that the ministry of the Holy Spirit should be cautioned or banned. The Holy Spirit is God, and he does not work in an ambiguous way. If otherwise, why would Paul ask for good judgement in 1 Corinthians 12-14?
The reason is because the Holy Spirit is personal. Treating people in a personal way is a very complicated thing. It takes time and patience to persuade people to understanding, and even when things go wrong, you must carefully deal with the consequences. On the other hand, you could treat people in military style by giving orders. It would be refreshing if God revealed His identity in this way allowing us to easily follow his directions without having to think or worry.
However, the Trinity God does not want to work in this way. Although there are examples of such miraculous works in the Bible, we must remember that these are examples that were selected and recorded over a long period of time. Some books, for example the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, are words of God that came to be from studies of wise men.
The Holy Spirit is very much capable of revealing his divinity and make us obey Him like robots. However, this is not the way He wants to treat his children. He instead works in ways that can confuse us but therefore requires our good judgement when understanding the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
His intentions require us to have a mature attitude. To be able to interpret the Bible well, and deeply understand God’s words to follow His way in our lives as he walks beside us. If we do not, it is possible to fall into the traps as mentioned by Paul; put out the Holy Spirit’s fire and have an attitude of despising prophecies. It is important to know that these kinds of attitudes can make a church fall into weakness. It would be like having an irresponsible leader sending his troops into the battlefield without a weapon because they are dangerous.
When you become an adult, you realise life is not so simple. However, it is because of this that you start to see and learn about the beauty of life. In the same way, we cannot simplify our life in faith. A life led by the Holy Spirit is the greatest blessing of the New Covenant. (Romans 8:14)