Don't grieve the Holy Spirit (2023)

"And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, with whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption."Ephesians 4:30

Many Christians know little about the Holy Spirit's ministry, and particularly about His ministry in their own lives. The Spirit of God is a major theme in Scripture from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, but the ignorance of Him even among Bible readers is staggering. Of course, we are taught that He is the Author of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21), and yet Bible believers often suffer from a lack of understanding of His person and work.

Perhaps it was the proliferation of false doctrines about the Spirit in the 20th century that turned orthodox people away from the Third Person of the Trinity. Whatever the reason, the lack of proper teaching and learning about Him has marred the lives and ministries of many good people. However, it is not difficult to gain a working knowledge of His ministry in and for believers in Christ. Surely the book of Ephesians can give any saint such practical knowledge, and much can be gleaned from the simple command in the fourth chapter that we grieve not the Spirit.

Ephesians 1 teaches us that we were “sealed” with the Holy Ghost when we “believed” (read verses 12–14). This means that the moment the sinner trusts Christ for his salvation, the Spirit that rebuked him and drew him to Christ comes to live in his body and he is regenerated (see John 3:3-8, Romans 8:9– 11, 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, and Titus 3:3–6). The logical order of process given in this passage is (1) hearing the Gospel, (2) trusting Christ, and (3) being sealed with the Spirit. This is the logical order, though not strictly the chronological order, because all three can happen at the same time! Verse 14 says that the presence of the Spirit in our lives is “the earnest [pledge or pledge] of our inheritance,” our down payment from heaven! We have the Spirit of God in our lives from the moment we are saved until we go to glory. What do we know about the indwelling of the Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is a Person

Ephesians 4:30 warns us not to "grieve" the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translatedsufferin this verse it means to afflict someone, or to make someone sad. The One afflicted in Ephesians 4 is the Holy Spirit, and He is a person. You cannot afflict a power, nor a feeling. The Holy Spirit is not a power or a feeling; He is a person. The Bible is clear about this.

When Jesus spoke of the Spirit in His discourse on the subject recorded in John 14-16, He spoke of Him as a person.

“…he will teach you all things…”(Juan 14:26)

“…he will testify about me…”(Juan 15:26)

“… when he comes, he will rebuke the world…”(Juan 16:8)

“…he will guide you into all the truth…”(Juan 16:13)

"He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and make it known to you."(Juan 16:14)

The book of Acts tells us that the Spirit speaks (see Acts 1:16, 8:29 and 13:2). Romans 8:27 speaks of "the mind of the Spirit". 1 Corinthians 2 says,"The Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God"(verse 10) and"the Holy Spirit teaches"(verse 13). 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of the will of the Spirit (verse 11). Second Corinthians 13 speaks of the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” giving us the impression that one can fellowship with the Spirit person-to-person. Hebrews 10:29 says that men can insult the Spirit. 1 John 4:2 says that the Spirit of God,"Confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh."And the last chapter of the Bible states that the Spirit invites sinners to come to Jesus (Revelation 22:17).

Again and again the Word of God describes the mind, will, emotions, and activities of the Holy Spirit as if it were speaking of a person's nature and work. The Holy Spirit is really a person, the Third Person of the trinity, and He came to live within you when you trusted Christ as your Savior!

The Holy Spirit Has Emotions

By definition, a person has a mind, will and emotions. As a person, God the Spirit feels. In Ephesians 4:30 it is said to be sad. In Romans 15:30 it is said to love.

Various good emotions felt by Christians are the “fruit” (product) of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). When you compare the peace promised in this verse with Philippians 4:6–7, you discover that it is God's own peace (as in John 14:27) that He allows us to feel. James 4:5 says"The Spirit that dwells in us lusts envy",echoing Old Testament passages that describe God as jealous (such as Exodus 20:5 and 34:14). The Holy Spirit is God and has all the emotions that God has.

When our actions and attitudes conflict with his, the Spirit of God grieves

The words before and after Ephesians 4:30 tell us when and why the Holy Spirit is offended.

“Let no unwholesome talk proceed out of your mouths, but what is good for edification, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, anger, anger, shouting and slander, and all malice...”.

Corrupt speech, bitterness of heart, anger, loud arguments, critical speech, and perverse malice are examples of what grieves the Spirit. These attitudes and the actions they engender contradict the feelings of the Holy Spirit, making him sad. He loves the people we hate and wants to build up those we want to hurt. In a way, it's hard for Him to live in us when we live sinfully.

Note that although the Spirit is sad, He does not go away! By Him we are sealed until the consummation of our salvation (“the day of redemption”). His presence among believers sometimes made them wish he would leave them, or at least leave them alone, when they were grieving for him. But He won't leave until Jesus comes. This means that when Christians do bad things, go to the wrong places, participate in bad things, say bad things, think bad things, and even feel bad things, God's Holy Spirit has to bear it all.

Sadly, the only thing many Christians can tell you the Spirit does for them is to rebuke them when they sin. This is curious and interesting, for almost everything the New Testament says about the Spirit's ministry to believers is positive! However, many only know it in a negative and condemnable way. Do large numbers of people in God's family today grieve the Spirit every day, rarely knowing by experience His comforting, guiding, strengthening, and illuminating work? Your actions and attitudes are in conflict with Him most of the time, and He is sad. Many think this is the Christian life! But they are wrong.

When we begin to cooperate with the Spirit, He helps us to feel His feelings

Notice the great change that takes place in the believer when he gets rid of his bad attitudes and actions. Verse 31 tells us to throw them all away, and then verse 32 says:"Be merciful to one another, merciful, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

It is as great a change as described in the verses that follow the command in Ephesians 5:18 to“Be filled with the Spirit”:

“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for everything to God and the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; submitting to one another in the fear of God.”Ephesians 5:19–20

This is the transformation we should expect in the lives of those who choose to be filled with the Spirit rather than indulge in drunken excesses (see verse 18 again). Can Christians turn from malice to goodness (chapter 4), or from drunkenness to the fear of God (chapter 5)?

Yes, they can, when they stop contradicting the Spirit and start cooperating with Him. It is the Holy Spirit in the Christian that will enable them to do the right thing and even feel the right way!

The Christian life is not really a saved person trying to imitate Christ. It is the life of Christ lived through the life of a Christian (Galatians 2:20). This is only possible because, through the indwelling of the Spirit, Jesus Christ actually lives in us! And when we stop grieving the Spirit by contradicting Him and start cooperating with Him, trusting Him to give us His holiness and His feelings, we discover what it's like to be filled with the Spirit!

He apologizes to Spirit for saddening him by harboring attitudes and feelings so contrary to his nature. He put away these sinful things by repenting of them. Then tell Him that you want to harmonize with His interests and that you are turning your life over to His control. If appropriate, confess that your nature is selfish while his is kind; yours is to bear bitterness, while his is to be compassionate; and yours is to speak ill of others, while his is to forgive. Now you can start cooperating with Him instead of contradicting Him.

Go from simply being sealed with the Spirit, through the grieving of the Spirit, to being filled with the Spirit this very day.

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