Then on the most important day of the feast, the last day, Jesus stood and shouted out to the crowds – “All you thirsty ones, come to me! Come to me and drink! Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says.” John 7:37-38
Every time that I read this passage, I think, “Yes, living water, let it flow out of me!” Who wouldn’t want the Spirit of God flowing out of them?
Let’s be honest, there are lots of reasons that we limit God’s Spirit.
I was raised in a theology determined to box the Spirit into the first century. I would read all about the Spirit in the New Testament – power, teaching, comfort, leading, and companion – while thinking, “All of this in the first century!”
Eventually, I loosened the binding in my mind.
I began to see that reading the Bible and not believing in the current power of the Spirit was like reading all the literature and sonnets on love, listening to hours of music on love, writing my Ph.D. on love – and never getting married.
Sort of ridiculous.
There is a doctrinal side of the Spirit but also an experiential aspect. “Rivers of living water” indicates power, life, and experience. You cannot have the Spirit flowing out of you without turning off the inhibitions and learning to just go with it.
There are two opposite but equal errors when it comes to living water. First, you can limit or quench, and second, you overextend and grieve the Spirit.
Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Ephesians 3:30
Water used in hydroelectric dams creates electricity, but in a flood, it causes lots of damage. The Spirit should not be quenched (shutting the dam) or grieved (having released a destructive flood).
You quench by telling the Spirit what He can’t do, and you grieve by telling the Spirit what He must do. There are doctrines in churches that do one or the other.
Instead, learn to test the spirits, and keep in step with the Spirit. The Spirit that flows with the “on and off” leading of wisdom, boldness, and propriety will bring life.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:32 that the “spirits of the prophets are subject to prophets.” The flowing of the Spirit isn’t an unstoppable force that overrides reason and your free will. As we mature, we learn to walk in power by neither quenching nor grieving Him.
To release the Spirit:
- Doubt is never from God, while wisdom is always from God.
- Teaching that quenches or grieves is not Biblical; scripture says that the Spirit should be released in abundance.
- Joy! There is nothing more joy-filled than the Spirit flowing through you to impact the lives of others.
Try it. Turn on the “faucet” today. Sooner or later, you will get something too wet; you will make a mistake. Ask forgiveness, learn, and turn the “faucet” on again.
It is better to be drenched than quenched.