All verses from the Bible Gateway NIV and NASV.
The Christian Walk 101 – Grieving the Holy Spirit
The next lesson in this series on Christianity 101 may seem on the surface to be out of step with what has been discussed before. Here we have the apostle Paul telling us to speak truthfully, to not sin in our anger and to let go of our anger quickly. Then he tells us to stop stealing and to work so that we will not be takers of money but rather be able to supply for our own needs and the needs of those who are in need. Then he tells us to not let any rotten speech out of our mouths but only what is beneficial for building others up. These are all things we all need to work on within our lives as Christians. We can understand being truthful honest and upright people, but then we get to verse 30 of Ephesians chapter 4 which says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
What in the world is Paul talking about here? Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. I understand the need to be kind and constructive in my speech, but how do I, little me grieve the infinite Holy Spirit?
Definition of Grieve
For me to understand this better I first went to find out what the word grieve actually means in the Greek. The Greek word here is Lypeo, which means in this context to “offend, insult, to distress, to inflict emotional pain.”
This definition helps us understand a portion of this passage. We now know that this is not the grief that comes from the loss of a loved one or the grief that comes from having a loved one getting real sick or in a bad car accident.
Instead, this is grief that is inflicted upon us by someone and usually someone we love. This is the grief that comes when we raise a child and we care for them, love them, teach them about God, and when they get older they reject your instructions and take off to do what they want to do, when they want to do it. They don’t care about you or the hurt they are inflicting upon you, because it is all about them and what they want.
They get themselves into trouble and instead of turning their hearts back to your instruction they instead blame the way you raised them for all of their troubles, further inflicting grief in your life. They play the blame game, my sin is a result of others.
I believe all of us have experienced this type of grief and can relate to what Paul is teaching us here. Another aspect we need to understand as we explore this passage is exactly who is this mysterious third person of the Trinity? Let’s now look at the Spirit.
The Spirit is a Helper and Teacher
The first aspect of the Spirit I want us to look at is that the Spirit is here to help us and train us in our walk with Christ. Let’s look at:
John 14:25-26 - 25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
Here we have Jesus speaking to his disciples trying to comfort them after he told them about his upcoming death. Jesus is going to die, raise again and go back to be with his father, but he is not going to leave us alone. He is going to send his Spirit and the Holy Spirit is going to be a helper to us and teach us all the things we need to know.
The Spirit Guides us into Truth
We need the Spirits help in learning don’t we! Here we are all entangled in the lies and sins of this world. We need someone to tell us the truth. Let’s now read:
John 16:5-15 - 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
Wow, what a powerful passage. We have the Spirit of God as an advocate! We are not going it alone! The Spirit is with us and will allow us to see sin for what it is in all of its ugliness. The Spirit of truth will guide you and me into all truth!
The Spirit then allows us to see things as God sees them. The Spirit is there to let us know that what God sees as evil and sinful. Therefore we will know that it is evil and sinful. The Spirit will let us know what God sees as holy and righteous, so we will know what is holy and righteous. We certainly need God’s Spirit don’t we. The Spirit is the only way we will be able to avoid being captured by sin again.
The Spirit Marks us as Christians
Another important aspect of the Spirit is that it marks us as Christians. Turn to:
Romans 8:5-17 - 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
Let’s stop here just for a minute. The Spirit teaches us and guides us into truth. As Christians we elect to heed to the Spirit. Our desires are not to be governed by what our flesh desires. We’ve repented of those things and have chosen to live by the Spirit. What the Spirit desires we desire. When we do this we will have life and peace. Praise God! But if we allow our minds to be governed by the flesh which is hostile to God, we cannot please God. Let’s continue in verse 9.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Brothers and sisters this is another powerful passage. The Spirit gives life. Let’s read verse 11 again, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Have you ever thought about this? The Spirit was there at Jesus’ resurrection and if the Spirit raised Christ from the dead, The Spirit will also give life to us who have the Spirit living in us!
If we are led by the Spirit, if we choose to follow the teachings of the Spirit instead of our sinful nature, than we are the children of God and the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
The Spirit Produces Fruit
The Spirit not only helps and teaches us. The Spirit not only leads us into all truth. The Spirit not only marks us as adopted children of God, but the Spirit also gives to those that heed Him the most amazing of blessings as we walk upon this earth. Turn now to:
Galatians 5:13-26 - 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Are you starting to catch a theme here in all of these passages about the Spirit? Yes, we are free, but not free to indulge the flesh, because the flesh is contrary to the Spirit. The flesh is lies and captivity. The Spirit is truth and freedom. So we have the choice to make of what are we going to follow. If we look at verse 19 and 20 in this light it really is a list of the fruit of the flesh. Listen to this list:
Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies.
Now compare that to the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Which fruit do you want in your life? It does not take much effort to see which list is the one we desire for our lives. Unfortunately, the fruit of the flesh is what we seem to know the best and in fact many of you have come to Christ because you did not want to live in hatred, discord, jealousy and dissensions any more.
We all desire to have love, joy and peace within our lives don’t we. To have that we must belong to Christ Jesus and have crucified our flesh with its passions and desires. We must also live by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit.
How Do We Grieve the Holy Spirit?
Let us now go back to the question of how do we grieve the Holy Spirit.
We now understand the type of grief is caused by someone inflicting emotional pain. We now understand how much the Spirit cares for us and has invested himself into our lives to help us, teach us, show us the truth, mark us as heirs with Jesus and blesses our socks off with blessings beyond measure.
Arthur how do we grieve the Holy Spirit? How can we grieve the almighty God? I believe we will find the answer from the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 63:8-10 - 8 He said, “Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me”; and so he became their Savior.
9 In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
10 Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.
We grieve the Holy Spirit by not living by the Spirit! It is the same as when after investing so much into the life of one of our children and they then reject our instruction, our love, our protection and run off to what you know will cause them pain, grief, suffering and destruction. We grieve, don’t we. I don’t know how many teenage girls or boys did not come home last night, but I’m sure there are many parents grieving today because their children did not listen and are out there somewhere with all the dangers awaiting them. Oh, how parents can grieve.
That is how we grieve the Holy Spirit. Look at all that he has done for us. Look how much he has loved us and invested in us for our own good. Then we run off and indulge the sinful nature. In reality we run off and do all things that Ephesians 4 tells us not to do. We go in the opposite direction of the Spirit of God. The Spirit grieves. The Spirit knows what lies on that path and it is not pretty. The Spirit knows where that path leads, to eternal destruction, eternal separation from the Spirit. The Spirit Grieves…The Spirit Grieves.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let it be known that your sin is not funny. Your sin is not only affecting you but it is affecting others around you and it is affecting God. Isaiah 63:10 tells us:
10 Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.
When we rebel and grieve the Holy Spirit, when we turn from what we know is right, because the Spirit taught us what is right, watch out! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want God as my enemy. God is a little bigger than I am! I don’t stand a chance in my own power and my own intellect. I also, know how the history book of this world will end. God told us and I certainly desire as I’m sure you do too, to hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Hebrews 12:1-3 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Let us not run. Let us run! Let us run with the Spirit as our guide, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. If we do this without loosing heart we will be keeping in step with the Spirit and we will not be grieving the Spirit. All the things we have talked about in this passage of Ephesians 4 are all instructions to keep us from grieving the Spirit. Let us run true. AMEN! AMEN.