The Holy Spirit is associated with fire. John the Baptist announced that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mat. 3:11; Luke 3:16). Jesus said He came to bring fire on the earth (Luke 12:49). The fire He spoke of there was contextually the fire of judgment. But can’t we say that judgment fire was aimed at burning off sin? I think we can. Fire is a purifier. It melts metal allowing impurities to be identified and removed. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is an empowering work that by nature involves the purifying of our hearts (Acts 15:8-9). We need the fire of the Spirit to burn off that which hinders our walk with Him.
Paul warned those at the church in Rome to keep the fire of their zeal alive (Romans 12:11). He wrote Timothy:
2 Timothy 1:6-7 – “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Earlier Paul commended Timothy about his “genuine faith” that was also in his grandmother and mother (2 Tim. 1:5). Paul would not have said this unless there was a possibility that “the gift of God which is in you” might in some way wane or dim. The baptism with the Holy Spirit that leads to God’s empowerment for service and holy life is a gift of God to be received by His grace through faith in Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:18-20; 10:45). If the presence of the Holy Spirit is represented by fire, and fire has a tendency to go out, then as Paul remarked to Timothy, we need to stir it up, or fan it to a flame; we need to feed the fire of the Spirit within us.
Paul didn’t want Timothy to neglect the fire within. Perhaps Timothy’s flame was flickering. Perhaps the light from the fire of the Spirit that dispels the darkness was dimming and Timothy was fearful as the darkness was creeping in. Paul reminded him when the flame is burning hot and bright, there is power, love and soundness of thinking. When those things are absent or diminished, we need to stoke the fire of the Spirit within.
Now it isn’t as though the Holy Spirit in some way is going to go out within us. It is that if we don’t feed the fire or zeal produced by the Spirit, it can flicker. The fire from God kindled on the altar must be fed (Leviticus 9:24; 6:9-13). God’s fire in our hearts must be attended to. Like a fire in a fireplace, we need to feed it. We need to be stoked. How do we feed the fire of the Spirit’s zeal within us?
First, stoke the fire of the Spirit with prayer.The baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire promised by the Father was delivered as God’s people were united in fervent prayer (Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:3). We need to get serious about our prayer lives. Nothing will suffocate the fire within faster than a prayerless life. It is in fervent prayer that God renews us and rekindles His fire within us.
Second, stoke the fire of the Spirit with the word of God. The Lord told Jeremiah that He would make His words he spoke “a fire” (Jeremiah 5:14). God said His words were “like a fire” (Jeremiah 23:29). Therefore the second thing we need to do is stoke the fire with the word of God. Prayerfully dig in and consume God’s word. Even if we don’t feel like doing so, we need to step into God’s word by faith and seek a word from the Lord.
Third, stoke the fire by dealing with fire quenchers. Paul was inspired to warn the Thessalonians to not quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). When we look at the context we see that fire quenchers could take the form of:
1. Rendering evil for evil and not pursuing good for all people (1 Thess. 5:15)
2. Joylessness (5:16)
3. Prayerlessness (5:17)
4. Thanklessness (5:18)
5. Despising prophesy (5:20)
6. Permissiveness; lack of scrutinizing things with God’s word (5:21)
7. Involvement with evil (5:22)
8. Failure to trust God to entirely sanctify you (5:23-24).
These things in our lives throw cold water on the flame of the Spirit. When you go to prayer ask the Lord to search you for any such fire quenchers (e.g. Psalm 139:23-24). God’s fire will test each one’s work (1 Cor. 3:13). God’s plan is that we be on fire for Him in the power of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 1:7; Psalm 104:4). He makes “His ministers a flame of fire.” How’s your fire? Get stoked!