Grieving God’s Spirit

I am convinced God’s admonition to the church at Ephesus is of absolute importance to each of us: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

What does Paul mean by grieving the Holy Spirit and why does it take on such importance?

First, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead and is the constant presence in our lives. He is the comforter who comes alongside us and leads us in the ways and paths of God. In short, we need God’s Holy Spirit.

Second, the passage affirms that we use the correct language when we speak of the third person of the Godhead. Only a person can be grieved. A person hurts, feels, experiences. The Holy Spirit is God’s personal presence in our lives.

Third, the word grieve means to cause pain, sorrow, or distress. We should think of this in real terms. Each of us has experienced some grief in life. Where do you feel it most? For me, it is in the pit of my stomach. We grieve at loss or wrong actions by others, especially those who are dearest to us. For example, think of the parents of thieves or murderers. Do those parents grieve? When Paul speaks of our grieving the Holy Spirit, he was giving this kind of picture.

The context of this passage makes it clear what kind of actions grieve the Holy Spirit. While any sin and rebellion would cause pain, the Spirit especially grieves when our language fails to reflect His truth. He is the Spirit of Truth and any misuse of speech grieves Him (Ephesians 4:29). He is also hurt by disunity since He is the One Spirit (Ephesians 2:18; 4:4).

In addition, unholiness always grieves Him. “In fact, anything incompatible with the purity or unity of the church is incompatible with his own nature and therefore hurts him” (John Stott).

Finally, the reference to being sealed for the day of redemption speaks of the beginning of our life in Christ and the last day when our bodies will be redeemed. John Stott speaks of the significance of not grieving the Holy Spirit: “And in between these two termini we are to grow in Christlikeness and to take care not to grieve the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit is a sensitive Spirit. He hates sin, discord and falsehood, and shrinks away for them. Therefore, if we wish to avoid hurting him, we shall shrink from them too. Every Spirit-filled believer desires to bring him pleasure, not pain.”

You can see other teachings about the Holy Spirit by viewing these posts on the filling of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit.

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3 Responses

  1. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3

    Then Paul goes on to describe how not to grieve the Holy Spirit. It is both a corporate and individual effort. There does not seem to be any room for disingenuous behavior. Sometimes such behavior may be seen as subjective and at other times it is the difference between black and white. It is amazing how often both are seen as gray and then comes the wonderment: why children in “Christian” families or members of the “church” turn away?

    All life is God’s. Lord help us to see. Lord make the lost see You in us. Lord let the scales fall from our eyes that we may see the wonder of Your Design for the Bride of our Lord and find our place that we may not grieve the Holy Spirit.

    Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Romans 12:17

    Thank you Dr. Bailey. Well said! Billy Sunday’s famous sermon, “Payday someday” comes to mind.

    Recently the State Supreme Court ruled the Governmental (1928) “immunity clause” may not be applied to Katrina Claims to damage caused by its willful negligence. A burden we all allowed to develop and will likely pay.

    China teaches in their “junior high” text books that the United States did not accidentally bomb their embassy with bombs from USAF B-52’s in 1999… How did we make such a gross mistake? Old maps? With our GPS technology and surveillance? Hard for some of us to believe and impossible for others.

    Anyone know what U-2 pilot’s son recently received his silver star?

    I hear the words of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey and pray.

    May we learn to not grieve the Holy Spirit and not just become better manages of hiding our sins. AMEN.

  2. Thank you for this message and the sermon you prepared for today.
    My notes reflect it to be the fourth sermon I have heard from you using ISAIAH 6:1-8, ( 9/16/01), ( 11/14/040),(10/23/05 )and (6/24/12). It has not been too many. I think it is so wonderful that we can get many messages from from a single passage of scripture. That keeps one from ever being bored with the Bible.

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