Here are five ways you might be blocking the power of God’s Spirit in your life.
Grieving the Spirit
You can actually grieve the Holy Spirit by not confessing sin (Eph 4:30). Just as a person grieves over the loss of a loved one, the Spirit is said to be grieved when we sin (Eph 4:26-30). That will not only block the Spirit of God’s power, it will actually grieve the Third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. He is called “Holy,” because He is holy, and is God, but He also works to create holiness in us, but unconfessed sin blocks that growth.
Quenching the Spirit
The Apostle Paul says that it’s possible to quench the Spirit of God because that’s just what he told the church at Thessalonica: “Do not quench the Spirit” (1st Thess 5:19). When we quench the spirit, we’re trying to silence what God is trying to say to us or motivate us to do something by the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Sometimes we quench God’s Spirit without even knowing it.
Ignoring the Spirit
This is what unbelievers do. They ignore their conscience and suppress the knowledge of God, and even though they really know that God exists, the push back that knowledge in their consciences. Paul writes, “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18), and “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom 1:21). After a person ignores their conscience for so long, eventually God will just give them up to their own depravity.
Resisting the Spirit
When Stephen was on trial for his faith in Christ, he bluntly told the Jewish religious leaders, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51), and all you need to do is read about ancient Israel’s history to see that it’s true. They resisted God every step of the way, so God allowed them to wander in the wilderness for forty years until that generation was gone. God may put us in a “wilderness” for a time, until we stop resisting the Holy Spirit and His power.
Not Following the Spirit
When Paul wanted to go into Asia to preach the gospel, it was said that the Spirit blocked him from doing so (Acts 16:6). This didn’t mean Paul wasn’t following the Spirit, but the Spirit was trying to make Paul to go where He wanted him to go, and not where Paul wanted to go. The Holy Spirit always seeks to have us do the will of the Father, and so when we resist the Holy Spirit, we resist God Himself.
Going through the Motions
Traditions are fine, but when these traditions can become just going through the motions. When we do things without much thought, we’re blocking the Spirit’s power in being spontaneous. When church services become “automated,” then the church might be blocking the Holy Spirit’s power in worship services. For example, if we are singing songs without comprehending their meaning, then we’re just going through the motions and just “checking things off our list.”
Doubt and Fear
Doubt and fear are the enemies of faith and trust. To have fear is to show a lack of faith and doubt can rob our joy. Both doubt and fear can suppress the work of the Spirit in us and strip us of our desire to serve Christ. Perfect love should cast our fear (1st John 4:18). A great way to dampen the doubt and face the fear is to be in the Word of God. That’s where the Spirit can help give us assurance and faith.
Harboring a Grudge
When we are holding a grudge against someone, it’s like a nagging thing in our mind that we quite can’t shake. The Spirit convicts us when we sin, but when we refuse to confess them, we can be grieved by God’s convicting Spirit. David said “my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3a), and it was “when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:4). Unconfessed sin can put God’s heavy hand upon us just like holding a grudge can.
A Resistant Spirit
I would rather it be, “Have your own way with me Holy Spirit” than “This is what I’ll do next.” If we have any pride at all, God’s going to resist us (James 4:6), and since the Holy Spirit is also God, the Spirit can resist us if we get full of ourselves. God’s Spirit can do little in someone that is full of pride. Until a person comes before God and is emptied of self, He cannot fill them; until they admit they are broken, God cannot fix them by His Spirit.
Not Walking in the Spirit
The Apostle Paul admonished the church at Rome to walk in the Spirit, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Rom 8:4) because “to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom 8:6).
We need all the help we can get from God’s Spirit in not grieving the Spirit, in not quenching the Spirit, in not ignoring the Spirit, in not resisting the Spirit, and in not following the Spirit and holding onto doubts, fear, being prideful and not walking with God, in the Spirit. Perhaps the greatest block of the power of God’s Spirit is pride. God cannot work with people that feel they have arrived in life. God resists the proud, but only gives His grace to the humble (James 4:6). When we block God’s Spirit, we also block His power working in us. That’s important enough reason to not grieve, quench, ignore, or resist the Spirit of God, but rather, to follow the Spirit.