Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit!
Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve (or “cease grieving” or “do not have the habit of grieving) the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
I. Since Only a Believer Can Grieve the Holy Spirit, How Do They?
Let your eyes sweep over this pericope of scriptures and notice that all these practical exhortations are relational. Our new union with Christ should change the way we live in community. Our sin affects others negatively, just as our righteousness will bless others positively. Also take note how there is a negative action stated first and then a positive action. It’s not enough to quit something, we must replace it with true and right behavior.
Cause 1 - By Lying Instead of Truth-telling - 4:25 – I love the way The Message paraphrases this verse - 4:25, “What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”
This more than simply telling falsehoods, lying also includes exaggeration and adding fabrications to something that is true. Cheating, making foolish promises, betraying a confidence, and making false excuses are all forms of lying, with which Christians should have no part.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” - Joseph Goebbels
Two current examples that are mind-boggling examples – The Russian Collusion Hoax and the Hunter Biden laptop which was asserted by the media to be nothing but more Russian disinformation!
John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Rev 21:8, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Cure – By Replacing Lying with Truth-telling - 4:25b – “let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Note the reason Paul gave for telling the truth: We belong to each other in Christ. He urged us to build the body in love (Eph_4:16) and he urged us to build the body in truth. “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph_4:15). As “members one of another” we affect each other, and we cannot build each other apart from truth. The first sin that was judged in the early church was the sin of lying (Act_5:1-11).
Cause 2 - By Unrighteous Anger Instead of Righteous Anger - 4:26-27 – This an echo of Ps. 4:4, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds and be silent.” By New Testament standards, anger can be either good or bad, depending on motive and purpose. Paul may have been sanctioning righteous indignation, anger at evil. This type of anger hates injustice, immorality, ungodliness, and every other sin. When such anger is unselfish and based on love for God and others, it not only is permissible but commanded. Jesus expressed this righteous anger (see Mat 21:12; Mar 3:5; John 2:15).
Anger isn't just a feeling – it can come with a price tag. When we're angry, it's like paying for things we didn't buy. It can cost us friendships, smiles, and even health. Health cost: increased heart rate, increased testosterone level, increased body flight and flight response, increased risk of heart disease.
The Bible is very specific about uncontrolled anger. Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry person causes trouble; a person with a quick temper sins a lot” (NCV). In Proverbs 15:18, you read, “Hot tempers cause arguments” (GNT). And Proverbs 14:29 says, “A hot temper shows great foolishness” (NLT).
Cure – By Replacing Unrighteous Anger with Righteous Anger - 4:26-27 – Because even righteous anger can turn to bitterness, we must set it aside by the end of each day. “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.”
Verse 31 mentions unrighteous anger. This anger is self-defensive and out of control. It leads to murder, jealousy, envy, and a host of other sins. To make sure we keep our anger holy, Paul gives us three reminders. The first qualification is "do not sin" (v. 26). Paul is therefore not giving us permission to throw a fit, seek revenge, and dishonor the name of God in public. Next Paul says, "Don't let sun go down on your angerThe final qualification is, "And don't give the Devil an opportunity." Someone said, "Don't go to bed with unresolved conflict or else you will sleep with the Devil." Seek forgiveness and reconciliation quickly. Satan would love to use your anger as an opportunity to make you violent and divisive.
Cause 3 – By Stealing Instead of Working and Giving - 4:28 – Stealing was particularly a sin of the slaves in Paul’s day. Usually they were not well cared for and were always in need, and the law gave them almost no protection. When he wrote to Titus, Paul urged him to admonish the slaves not to steal but to be faithful to their masters (Tit_2:10). But it was not only the slaves, but citizens in general, who were addicted to thievery, for Paul wrote to people in the Ephesian church who were gainfully employed (Eph_4:28).
Just as Satan is a liar and a murderer, he is also a thief. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John_10:10). He turned Judas into a thief (John_12:6) and he would do the same to us if he could.
Retailers say shoplifting in the USA cost nearly $100 billion in 2023.
Cure - By Replacing Stealing with Working and Giving - 4:28 – Paul then says, "Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need." John Wesley put it this way: "Work as hard as you can, make as much as you can, then give as much as you can." John Piper tells us there are really three options regarding work: you can steal to get, you can work to get for yourself, or you can work to get in order to give.
Cause 4 – By Corrupt Talk that Tears Down Relationships - 4:29, 31 – Paul says our speech should not be “corrupt” or “unwholesome.” The Greek adjective translated as “corrupt” literally means “rotten or putrefied; unfit for use; worthless.” Physically, the word was used to refer to things like rotting fruit. Figuratively, “corrupt” describes language that is rotten or that spreads rottenness.
Cure - By Replacing Bitterness and Rage with Kindness and Forgiveness - 4:31-32 – The Christian's speech should be instructive, encouraging, uplifting, (even when it must be corrective), and suited for the moment. We need to speak constructive words that are helpful and build up others. Speak encouraging words that give grace to the hearers.
What is it that we must employ or exert in order to become kind and tenderhearted?
The answer is hinted at in the form of the verb in verse 31. Literally it says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be taken away from you." The verb is passive. This is a hint that the instrument of our kindness is not simply ourselves. They must BE TAKEN from us. "Let all bitterness . . . BE taken away from you." Someone else is at work here besides us. There must be a power that takes bitterness and malice from my heart and makes me tenderhearted and kind.
But the question is not fully answered. We must still ask, what is the instrument with which I appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit? And the answer is faith, trust, reliance upon the Holy Spirit.
II. Other Ways in Which Believers Grieve the Holy Spirit
1) Being Unconscious of His Presence – The most painful experiences in a love-relationship are those that come not from being used and abused, but from being ignored. Hear the grieved heart of God in Jer. 2:32, “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.”
2) Being Unconnected with His People – Ephesians 4-5 - All the issues that brings grief to the Holy Spirit are relational in nature. If you take the time to read these versus in Ephesians, you will see the imperativeness of being in fellowship with fellow members of the household of faith: Eph 4:15, 25, 26, 28-29, 31-32; 5:19,21
3) Being Unconcerned with His Provision – Eph 5:18: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”
How can I know if I’m carrying a grieved Holy Spirit in my heart?
Nearness and tenderness in my relationships, both with the Lord and with others is gone.
Restlessness in spirit replaces His peacefulness.
Joyfulness is lost, and dutifulness becomes the order of the day.
Powerlessness over temptations.
Prayerlessness replaces my former prayerfulness.
Selfishness rears its ugly head.
Usefulness is replaced by busyness.
Barrenness replaces fruitfulness.
What can I do? Cry out to God for the outpouring of the Spirit upon your soul. Repent, with joy. Repent and confess your lifeless religious activities, your sinful attitudes and actions, your frozen love, your singing without praising and worshiping, your activity without ministry, your going to church without really having church, and your enduring the Christian life instead of enjoying it.
Set out for a new work of the Spirit of God in your heart. Pray for the Holy Spirit to breathe upon your dry heart with a season of refreshing from the Lord! - Come Holy Spirit, we need you! Come sweet Spirit we pray. Come in your strength and your power. Come in your only special way!
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