Ephesians 4:30 Commentary

 

Ephesians 4:29 Let no * unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: pas logos sapros ek tou stomatos humon me ekporeuestho, (3SPMM) alla ei tis agathon pros oikodomen tes chreias, hina do (3SAAS) charin tois akouousin. (PAPMPD)

Amplified: Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

NLT: Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: Let there be no more foul language, but good words instead - words suitable for the occasion, which God can use to help other people. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: Every word that is rotten and unfit for use, out of your mouth let it not be proceeding, but whatever is good, suitable for edification with respect to the need, in order that it may impart grace to the hearers.. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: Let no unwholesome words ever pass your lips, but let all your words be good for benefiting others according to the need of the moment, so that they may be a means of blessing to the hearers.

DO NOT GRIEVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD: kai me lupeite (2PPAM) to pneuma to hagion tou theou: (Genesis 6:3,6; Judges 10:16; Psalms 78:40; 95:10; Isaiah 7:13; 43:24; 63:10; Ezekiel 16:43; Mark 3:5; Acts 7:51; 1Th 5:19 - note; He 3:10,17)

DON'T CUT OFF THE FLOW OF
YOUR SUPERNATURAL POWER!

Note that the first word in the Greek is "kai" (and) which unfortunately is not translated by the usually relatively literal NASB. "And" in this context is important because it clearly links the grieving of the Holy Spirit with the previous passage regarding unwholesome speech. The implication is that "rotten" speech will grieve the Holy Spirit. Of course this verse may also be linked to Ep 4:25, 26, 27, 28 to indicate that lying, unrighteous anger, and stealing also hurt Him. In a more general sense is an exhortation to abstain from anything and everything that grieves the Holy Spirit.

Grieve (3076) (lupeo [word study] from lupe = sadness, grief) means to feel deep emotional or physical pain, distress. As used here lupeo means to afflict one with sorrow.

Paul uses the present imperative with a negative particle (in Greek "me") saying in essence "Stop grieving the Spirit" (or "Don't start grieving the Spirit"), which conveys the implication that some may have been grieving Him. A T Robertson “Cease grieving” or “do not have the habit of grieving.”

The Holy Spirit is grieved or pained by sin, in context, especially the sins of the tongue! The Spirit Who makes men attest to the truth is put to shame when the saints lie to one another and utter rotten words to each other.

Sorrow = distress of mind especially implying a sense of loss - deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone or something loved; resultant unhappy or unpleasant state. One dictionary says sorrow is derived from the German sorge = care, concern, uneasiness which is in turn from the same root as sore, heavy. Interesting word picture of this word! The 1828 Webster's Dictionary has this entry for sorrow - The uneasiness or pain of mind which is produced by the loss of any good, real or supposed, or by disappointment in the expectation of good; grief; regret. The loss of a friend we love occasions sorrow; the loss of property, of health or any source of happiness, causes sorrow. We feel sorrow for ourselves in misfortunes; we feel sorrow for the calamities of our friends and our country.

Grief = deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement. 1828 Webster = The pain of mind produced by loss, misfortune, injury or evils of any kind; sorrow; regret. We experience grief when we lose a friend, when we incur loss, when we consider ourselves injured, and by sympathy, we feel grief at the misfortunes of others. The pain of mind occasioned by our own misconduct; sorrow or regret that we have done wrong; pain accompanying repentance. We feel grief when we have offended or injured a friend, and the consciousness of having offended the Supreme Being, fills the penitent heart with the most poignant grief.

Anguish (Interesting etymology - from Latin angustiae, plural, straits, distress, from angustus narrow) = Extreme pain, either of body or mind. As bodily pain, it may differ from agony, which is such distress of the whole body as to cause contortion, whereas anguish may be a local pain as of an ulcer, or gout. But anguish and agony are nearly synonymous. As pain of the mind, it signifies any keen distress from sorrow, remorse, despair and the kindred passions. ANGUISH suggests torturing grief or dread, such as the anguish felt by the parents of the kidnapped child (Lindbergh's child in 1932 - the "crime of the century")

C H Spurgeon on grieving the Holy Spirit...

I think I now see the Spirit of God grieving, when you are sitting down to read a novel and there is your Bible unread. Perhaps you take down some book of travels, and you forget that you have got a more precious book of travels in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the story of your blessed Lord and Master. You have no time for prayer, but the Spirit sees you very active about worldly things, and having many hours to spare for relaxation and amusement. And then he is grieved because he sees that you love worldly things better than you love him.

Although the word ‘grieve’ is a painful one, yet there is honey in the rock; for it is an inexpressibly delightful thought, that he who rules heaven and earth, and is the creator of all things, and the infinite and ever blessed God, condescends to enter into such infinite relationships with his people that his divine mind may be affected by their actions. What a marvel that Deity should be said to grieve over the faults of beings so utterly insignificant as we are!

Sin everywhere must be displeasing to the Spirit of holiness, but sin in his own people is grievous to him in the highest degree. He will not hate his people, but he does hate their sins, and hates them all the more because they nestle in his children’s bosoms. The Spirit would not be the Spirit of truth if he could approve of that which is false in us: he would not be pure if that which is impure in us did not grieve him.

The Holy Spirit’s grief is not of a petty, oversensitive nature. “He is grieved with us mainly for our own sakes, for he knows what misery sin will cost us; he reads our sorrows in our sins . . . He grieves over us because he sees how much chastisement we incur, and how much communion we lose."

Guzik - There are many ways to grieve the Holy Spirit. We can neglect holiness and grieve the Holy Spirit. We can think in purely materialistic terms and grieve the Holy Spirit. The Spirit exalts Jesus (John 15:26); when we fail to do the same, we grieve the Spirit.

MacDonald observes as do many commentators that "The fact that He can be grieved shows that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not a mere influence. It also means He loves us, because only a person who loves can be grieved. The favorite ministry of God’s Spirit is to glorify Christ and to change the believer into His likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). When a Christian sins, He has to turn from this ministry to one of restoration. It grieves Him to see the believer’s spiritual progress interrupted by sin. He must then lead the Christian to the place of repentance and confession of sin. (Ibid)

Charles Hodge - To grieve Him is to wound Him on Whom our salvation depends. Though He will not finally withdraw from those in whom He dwells, yet when grieved, He withholds the manifestations of His presence. (Ephesians 4:17-32, 5:1-2 Commentary Online)

Lupeo - 26x in 21v - Matt 14:9; 17:23; 18:31; 19:22; 26:22, 37; Mark 10:22; 14:19; John 16:20; 21:17; Rom 14:15; 2 Cor 2:2, 4, 5; 6:10; 7:8f, 11; Eph 4:30; 1Th 4:13; 1 Pet 1:6. NAS = cause...sorrow(1), caused...sorrow(2), caused sorrow(2), distressed(1), grieve(3), grieved(7), grieving(2), hurt(1), made sorrowful(5), sorrow(1), sorrowful(1).

Expositor's Greek Testament - The Spirit is here regarded as capable of feeling, and so as personal. In Isa 63:10 (But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them.) we have a similar idea, following the statement that Jehovah was afflicted in all His people's affliction. These terms, no doubt, are anthropopathic (anthropopathy = the assignment of human feelings or passions to something not human, as a deity, in this context Jehovah), as all terms which we can use of God are anthropomorphic or anthropopathic. But they have reality behind them, and that as regards God's nature and not merely His acts. Otherwise we should have an unknown God and One who might be essentially different from what we are under the mental necessity of thinking Him to be. What love is in us points truly, though tremulously, to what love is in God. But in us love, in proportion as it is true and sovereign, has both its wrath-side and its grief-side ; and so must it be with God, however difficult for us to think it out. (Ephesians 4:30 Commentary)

Sin grieves the Holy Spirit and is the cause for the loss of fellowship, the loss of filling, the loss of the controlling ministry of the Spirit.

Rick Renner has this note on the word group lupe/lupeo

Many years ago, when I first studied the word "grieve" in Ephesians 4:30, I ran to my bookshelf and pulled out my Greek New Testament to discover exactly what the word "grieve" meant. I found that this word was taken from the Greek word lupete. This surprised me, because the word lupete is from the word lupe, which denotes a pain or grief that can only be experienced between two people who deeply love each other. This word lupe would normally be used to picture a husband or wife who has discovered his or her mate has been unfaithful. As a result of this unfaithfulness, the betrayed spouse is shocked, devastated, hurt, wounded, and grieved because of the pain that accompanies unfaithfulness. This tells us, first of all, that the relationship that exists between us and the Holy Spirit is precious! The Holy Spirit is deeply in love with us. Just as someone in love thinks about, dreams of, and cherishes the one he loves, the Holy Spirit longs for us, thinks about us, desires to be close to us, and wants to reveal Himself to us. But when we act like the world, talk like the world, behave like the world, and respond the same way the world does, we cause the Spirit of God to feel shock, hurt, and grief. You see, when we deliberately do what is wrong, we drag Him right into the mire of sin with us, because He lives in us and goes wherever we go. The Holy Spirit convicted us of sin and brought us to Jesus; then He indwelt us, sanctified us, empowered us, and faithfully remains alongside to help us. So when we deliberately enter into sin, it grieves Him. Just as a husband or wife would feel who has just discovered that his or her spouse has committed adultery, the Holy Spirit is shocked when we dishonor His Presence in our lives.

One scholar has translated Ephesians 4:30 in the following way: "Stop deeply wounding and causing such extreme emotional pain to the Spirit of God, by whom you have been sealed until the day of your redemption."

We need to realize how precious the Holy Spirit is in our lives and honor Him by making sure we live holy and upright lives. If our behavior has been wrong, we should confess our sin and receive cleansing by the blood of Jesus so we can be restored to fellowship with the Spirit of God. So before you get started with your daily duties today, stop and ask, "Holy Spirit, is there anything in my life that causes You grief? If there is, please reveal it to me so I can change." (Sparkling Gems from the Greek)

Holy (40) (hagios [word study]) is literally holy one and refers to one set apart for a special purpose. Hagios was used throughout the NT to speak of anyone or anything that represents God’s holiness: Christ as the Holy One of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, holy Scriptures, holy angels, holy brethren, and so on. Paul could have just written "Spirit" but he appends "Holy", which serves to give an added motivation to the exhortations previously mentioned, and most immediately that our speech be holy speech.

I love how the silver tongued orator Alexander Maclaren exposits Ephesians 4:30 (below are excerpts, consider reading the entire message Grieving the Spirit)...

THE miracle of Christianity is the Incarnation. It is not a link in a chain, but a new beginning, the entrance into the cosmic order of a Divine Power. The sequel of Bethlehem and Calvary and Olivet is the upper room and the Pentecost. There is the issue of the whole mission and work of Christ—the planting in the heart of humanity of a new and divine life. All Christendom is professing to commemorate that fact to-day! but a large portion of us forget that it was but a transient sign of a perpetual reality. The rushing mighty wind has died down into a calm; the fiery tongues have ceased to flicker on the disciples’ heads, but the miracle, which is permanent, and is being repeated from day to day, in the experience of every believing soul, is the inrush of the very breath of God into their lives, and the plunging of them into a fiery baptism which melts their coldness and refines away their dross. Now, my text brings before us some very remarkable thoughts as to the permanent working of the Divine Spirit upon Christian souls, and upon this it bases a very tender and persuasive exhortation to conduct. And I desire simply to try to bring out the fourfold aspect in these words. There is, first, a wondrous revelation; second, a plain lesson as to what that Divine Spirit chiefly does; third, a solemn warning as to man’s power and freedom to thwart it; and, lastly, a tender motive for conduct. ‘Grieve not!...

And I pray you to remember that however much your Christian thought and Christian faith may be centred upon, and may be drawing its nourishment and its joy from, the work of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for our salvation, and lives to be our King and Defender, there is a gap—not only in your Christian Creed, but also in your Christian experiences and joys and power, unless you have risen to this thought, that the Divine Spirit is not only an influence, a wind, a fire, an oil, a dove, a dew, but a Divine Person. We have to go back to the old creed —‘I believe in God the Father Almighty and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, I believe in the Holy Ghost.’...

HOLINESS
FOR WHICH THE
DIVINE SPIRIT WORKS

Christianity is intensely ethical, and it sets forth, as the ultimate result of all its machinery, changing men into the likeness of God. Holiness is that for which Christ died, that for which the Divine Spirit works. Unless we Christian people recognise the true perspective of the Spirit’s gifts, and put at the base the extraordinary, and higher than these, but still subordinate, the intellectual, and on top of all the spiritual and moral, we do not understand the meaning of the central gift and possible blessing of Christianity, to make us holy, or, if you do not like the theological word, let us put it into still plainer and more modern English, to make you and me good men and women, like God. That is the mightiest work of that Divine Spirit.

Nothing here about irresistible grace; nothing here about a power that lays hold upon a man, and makes him good, he lying passive in its hands like clay in the hands of the potter! You will not be made holy without the Divine Spirit, but you will not be made holy without your working along with it. There is a possibility of resisting, and there is a possibility of co-operating. Man is left free. God does not lay hold of any one by the hair of his head, and drag him into paths of righteousness whether he will or no.

But whilst there is the necessity for co-operation, which involves the possibility of resistance, we must also remember that that new life which comes into a man, and moulds his will as well as the rest of his nature, is itself the gift of God. We do not get into a contradiction when we thus speak, we only touch the edge of a great ocean in which our plummets can find no bottom. The same unravellable knot as to the co-operation of the divine and the creatural is found in the natural world, as in the experiences of the Christian soul. You have to work, and your work largely consists in yielding yourselves to the work of God upon you.

Work out (present imperative = Make this your life long passion and pursuit beloved!) your own (Whose?) salvation (So here "salvation" speaks of "present tense" salvation - progressive sanctification, growth in holiness - Three Tenses of Salvation) with fear and trembling (Not a shaking fear as bespeaks those who do not know God as Father, but a holy reverence and awe, an abiding sense that He is holy, holy, holy and that we should seek no less of a goal in this short life journey toward eternity, cp 1Pe 1:15, 16-note, 1Pe 1:17-note), for it is God (the indwelling Holy Spirit) that worketh (present tense = continually) in you both to will (The Spirit gives us the desire) and to do (The Spirit gives us the power) of His good pleasure (The net result? Spirit initiated and energized conduct gives our Father pleasure!).’ (Php 2:12-note, Php 2:13-note)

Brethren! If you and I are Christian people, we have put into our hearts and spirits the talent. It depends on us whether we wrap it in a napkin, and stow it away underground somewhere, or whether we use it, and fructify and increase it. If you wrap it in a napkin and put it away underground, when you come to take it out, and want to say,’ Lo! there Thou hast that is Thine,’ you will find that it was not solid gold, which could not rust or diminish, but that it has been like some volatile essence, put away in an unventilated place, and perfectly secured: the napkin is there, but the talent has vanished. We have to work with God, and we can resist. Ay, and there is a deeper and a sadder word than that applied by the same Apostle in another letter to the same subject. We can ‘quench’ the light and extinguish the fire. (1Th 5:19-note)

What extinguishes it? Look at the catalogue of sins that lie side by side with this exhortation of my text! They are all small matters—bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil-speaking, malice, stealing, lying, and the like; very ‘homely’ transgressions, if I may so say. Yes, and if you pile enough of them upon the spark that is in your hearts you will smother it out. Sin, the wrenching of myself away from the influences, not attending to the whispers and suggestions, being blind to the teaching of the Spirit through the Word and through Providence: these are the things that ‘grieve the Holy Spirit of God.’

Many a man has been kept from doing wrong things by thinking of a sad pale face sitting at home waiting for him. Many a boy has been kept from youthful transgressions which war against his soul here, on the streets of Manchester, full as they are of temptations, by thinking that it would grieve the poor old mother in her cottage, away down in the country somewhere.

We can bring that same motive to bear, with infinitely increased force, in regard to our conduct as Christian people. ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.’ A father feels a pang if he sees that his child makes no account of some precious gift that he has bestowed upon him, and leaves it lying about anywhere. A loving friend, standing on the margin of the stream, and calling to his friends in a boat when they are drifting to the rapids, turns away sad if they do not attend to his voice. That Divine Spirit pleads with us, and proffers His gifts to us, and turns away—I was going to use too strong a word, perhaps —sick at heart, not because of wounded authority, but because of wounded love and baffled desire to help, when we, in spite of it, will take our own way, neglect the call that warns us of our peril, and leave untouched the gifts that would have made us safe.

Dear brethren, surely such a dissuasive from evil, and such a persuasive to good, is mightier than all abstractions about duty and conscience and right, and the like. ‘Do it rightly,’ says Paul, ‘and you will please Him that hath called you’; leave the evil thing undone, ‘and my heart shall be glad, even mine.’ You and I can grieve the Christ whose Spirit is given to us. You and I can add something to ‘the joy of our Lord.’ (Excerpted from Alexander Maclaren's message Grieving the Spirit)

F B Meyer has the following thoughts on the Holy Spirit...

WE MUST WATCH CAREFULLY OUR OWN ATTITUDE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. (Ephesians 4:30, Ephesians 5:18)

He is not merely an influence; He is a person, and may easily be grieved. The Dove of God is very tender and gentle; and if there are thorns in the nest, He cannot remain. The things that grieve Him are instantly recognised by the holy soul by an immediate veiling of the inner light. They are enumerated here as bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, railing, with all kinds of malice. There is no secret of the inner life more necessary than to retain the inner presence of an ungrieved Spirit.

But let us also seek to be filled by Him. We have drunk of Him, as Jesus has placed the pitcher to our lips; but we should never rest till He has become in us a spring of water, leading up to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is in every believer; but He cannot be said to fill each. There is all the difference possible between a few drops at the bottom of a bucket and a brimming well; between a few stray flowers scattered sparsely through the glade, and the myriads that make it blue with hyacinths or yellow with primroses.

To be filled with the Spirit was the blessing of Pentecost; but it awaits us all. Indeed, we are here bidden to be Spirit-filled. It is a positive command. We have no option than to obey it. Mentioned in the same paragraph with the love of husband to wife, and the obedience of child to the parent, it is as obligatory as either. Let no reader of these lines rest without seeking and receiving by faith this blessed gift, which God is able to make abound towards us. Receive it without emotion by faith: reckon it is yours: and act as if you felt it (Ed Comment: Note that the present tense command indicates that filling is not a one time occurrence but in fact is our daily, moment by moment need! A Christian is to live a supernatural life before a natural and spiritually dead world, and the only hope ["prayer"] we have of living such an "other worldly" life is by continually yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit. And as Meyer says, we do so as an act of faith, independent of "feelings" or "manifestations", and this faith shows itself to be effective by its obedience to the Spirit's urgings and enablings). (Devotional Commentary of Ephesians, by F. B. Meyer)

R Kent Hughes - Do we have the frown or smile of the Holy Spirit upon us? To gain His smile, I would like to suggest a spiritual exercise which can be done alone, but may be enhanced in tandem. If you are married, ask your spouse to participate. If you are single, invite a Christian friend to go through this exercise with you. Take each of the four categories in succession — truth (Ep 4:25), anger (Ep 4:26, 27), theft (Ep 4:28), and speech (Ep 4:29) — and reflect out loud to your partner as to whether this area of your life has the smile or frown of the Holy Spirit. If you fall short, confess your sins to God and each other, and invite your partner to pray for you. Be assured that the Holy Spirit will attend your conversation with great joy. (Ephesians The Mystery of the Body)

When we sin remember that if we want to be completely united with Christ, we need to confess and repent from deliberate sin. When we persist in deliberate sin, the Bible says that we “grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30). Thankfully, our confession and repentance will be met with forgiveness (1 John 1:9). As the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, He also guides us to the truth of forgiveness through the work of Jesus. As He works in our lives, we can expect nothing less than change as dramatic as resurrection (cf. Ro. 8:11).

Today in the Word - The Wall Street Journal reported that one of the longest civil cases in memory was settled last year by a secret agreement. The case, a libel suit involving a Philadelphia prosecutor and the city's leading newspaper, spanned more than 25 years and two separate trials. The incident that was the subject of the newspaper story happened in 1963, although the article itself was published in 1973. The first trial was held in 1983, and the second in 1990. None of the principals in the case are at the same jobs today; in fact, one of the key figures died in 1989. One has to wonder if a simple plea for, and the granting of, forgiveness would have made this ordeal unnecessary. Unfortunately, we live in a society in which lawsuits, complaints and damages are more eagerly sought (and often more easily given) than forgiveness. But when animosity and bitterness take root in our lives, the results are always destructive. Jesus' warning in Mt 6:15 is a disturbing one, and we should take it seriously. But it's important to read this in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, which we already know is addressed to believers. Jesus is not dealing with the forgiveness that leads to salvation. His concern is our fellowship with the Father, not our eternal standing before Him. Animosity and bitterness between believers stems from a failure to forgive. Such attitudes break our intimate fellowship with God because they grieve the Holy Spirit, who is sensitive to sin (see Eph. 4:30-31). Is there someone you are unable to forgive? If your answer is yes, you can be sure that you are grieving the Holy Spirit and you are cutting off the supply of supernatural power necessary to live this supernatural life! If you are convicted by the Spirit (even the grieved Spirit will convict us of sin!), then take appropriate action in order to restore fellowship with the Triune God! If you would like to study more in depth about the significance of forgiveness see the articles in the topic FORGIVENESS/UNFORGIVENESS.

J Ligon Duncan on grieving the Holy Spirit - Those of us who talk for a living are deeply tempted in sins of talk. It is easy to excuse ourselves with gossip and wrong words towards others when we use our lips so much. You pray for me that when I speak I will edify, and I’ll pray for you that when you speak you will edify, because if we were to become a congregation who really spoke for edification, it would be patently obvious to the world around us, because we live in a world filled with gossip and slander and harmful speech. It's everywhere we turn....You will not be able to deal with this sin apart from Christ and apart from His Holy Spirit. You can't turn over another leaf on this one. It takes the grace of God to change a tongue from a harmful tongue to an edifying tongue (Talk, Edification, the Holy Spirit, and the Glory of God - First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi)

C H Spurgeon - Grieving the Holy Spirit produces a lamentable result. In the child of God it will not lead to his utter destruction, for no heir of heaven can perish; neither will the Holy Spirit be utterly taken away from him, for the Spirit of God is given to abide with us for ever. But the ill-effects are nevertheless most terrible. You will lose, my dear friends, all sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence: He will be as one hidden from you—no beams of comfort, no words of peace, no thoughts of love—there will be what Cowper calls, ‘an aching void the world can never fill.’ Grieve the Holy Spirit, and you will lose all Christian joy; the light shall be taken from you, and you shall stumble in darkness; those very means of grace which once were such a delight, shall have no music in your ear. Your soul shall be no longer as a watered garden, but as a howling wilderness. Grieve the Spirit of God, and you will lose all power; if you pray, it will be a very weak prayer—you will not prevail with God. When you read the Scriptures, you shall not be able to lift the latch and force your way into the inner mysteries of truth. When you go up to the house of God, there shall be none of that devout exhilaration, that running without weariness, that walking without fainting. You shall feel yourself like Samson when his hair was lost, weak, captive, and blinded. Let the Holy Spirit depart, and assurance is gone, doubts follow, questionings and suspicions are aroused. Grieve the Spirit of God, and usefulness will cease: the ministry shall yield no fruit; your Sunday School work shall be barren; your speaking to others and labouring for others shall be like sowing the wind.....If it is unprofitable for us to cause our church leaders to grieve, (Hebrews 13:17), how much worse it must be for us if we cause our God to grieve (Hebrews 3:7–18).

A W Tozer - The Christian who gazes too long on the carnal pleasures of this world cannot escape a certain feeling of sympathy with them, and that feeling will inevitably lead to behavior that is worldly. To expose our hearts to truth and consistently refuse or neglect to obey the impulses it arouses is to stymie the motions of life within us, and if persisted in, to grieve the Holy Spirit into silence. (Renewed Day by Day, Volume I)

Horatius Bonar - He that would be holy must feel his responsibility for being so, both as a member of Christ's body and a partaker of the Holy Spirit. The thought that perfection is not to be reached here ought not to weaken that sense of responsibility nor to lead us to give way to anything that would "grieve the Holy Spirit of God whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption. "Let us hold to the sevenfold fullness of the risen Christ (Revelation 2:1) and the sevenfold fullness of the Holy Ghost (5:6), for these are the church's birthright.

S Lewis Johnson has this comment on grieving the Holy Spirit - Now there’s some other things that we can say about this. He says, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit.” We know from the standpoint of New Testament teaching, that when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us permanently. Paul does not say, “Grieve not away the Holy Spirit,” as if it’s possible for us, having believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, to live in such a way that the Holy Spirit departs from us. No, it is simply, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” We cannot grieve him away. He’s always there. In fact, he’s with us wherever we are at all times. And all of the things that we utter are uttered in the presence of the Holy Spirit. There’s another thing about this word. Grieve is a love word. You don’t grieve people who don’t love you. Sometimes people use words like that. But, to truly grieve a person, what is necessary is that the other person must have high regard for you. So that grieve is a word of love. That is the word that is used here: grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. He is grieved, because we are the objects of the love of the triune God. The God who elected. The God who redeemed us. The triune God who brought us to the knowledge of this redemption and regenerated us, came to dwell in us through the Spirit. So when we say things that are displeasing to the Lord, not edifying, things that are said about others, we grieve the Holy Spirit. A love word. If you’ve ever had a relationship to a father or a mother in which you displeased them, you know exactly what Paul is talking about. My father was grieved, my mother would be grieved with me, because they loved me. So, this is a wonderful little statement, really, “grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” We cannot grieve him away. And he loves us. (Ephesians 4:25-5:2 The Christian's Use of the Tongue )

Robertson McQuilkin in "Life in the Spirit" has a section on Making God Sad - There's another expression used of our relationship to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person with feelings—it's quite possible to make Him sad. "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God," Paul says (Eph. 4:30). Then he tells us exactly the kind of thing that will make the Spirit sad: unwholesome talk, bitterness, rage and anger, brawling, slander, malice (Eph 4:29-32). The first meaning of being filled with the Spirit, then, is to yield full control to Him. Are you a Spirit-filled Christian in that sense? There's no place else to begin. Yet that's far from exhausting the meaning of this vivid word, so in the next chapter we'll consider the other meanings of being filled. But for now, let's be sure our unconditional "yes" to the Spirit is up-to-the-minute current in our relationship. Here's how I responded to this challenge: Holy Spirit of God, thank You, thank You for allowing me to have a personal relationship with You. I really do want You to be the controlling partner in that relationship and I reaffirm today that You are indeed Lord of my life. I'm truly sorry for the ways I've made You sad. Please forgive me. And give me strength to always say "yes" to You in the small things as well as the major choices I make. Let me ever be filled with Your presence and power.

Beware Of Warnings (Read: Ezekiel 3:16-21) As my beloved children I warn you. (1 Corinthians 4:14) Americans are getting warned to death. Manufacturers are growing increasingly wary of being sued when their products are misused, so they are attaching warning labels to hundreds of items. For example, a Batman outfit bears this caveat: “Parents, please exercise caution—For Play Only. Mask and cape are not protective; cape does not enable user to fly.” So many warnings appear on items sold in our stores, say the experts, that they’ve lost their effectiveness. While these kinds of warnings may fall on deaf ears, the Bible points out the importance of heeding God’s warnings. Ezekiel’s words in chapter 3 make it clear that a warning is vital not only for the person receiving it but also for the person giving it (Ezek 3:16-21). God’s words must be taken seriously. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit,” we are told (Eph. 4:30). “Abstain from every form of evil,” we are reminded (1 Th. 5:22). Jesus warned against adultery and lust (Mt. 5:27-28) and against judging others self-righteously (Mt. 7:1-5). The Lord who made us knows how we should live. He longs to protect us from danger. Let’s make sure we take all of His warnings seriously. By Dave Branon

The devil is subtle, deceptive, and sly;
He cleverly tricks us to swallow his lie,
But his cunning methods we're sure to discern
By making God's warnings our daily concern. —DJD

God's warnings are to protect us, not to punish us.
(Ed: God's warnings are to empower us, not to punish us.)

D. J. De Haan in his devotional on Ephesians 4:30 asks "Are You Sensitive to the Little Things?" - Sensitivity to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, even in little things that seem harmless, marks the mature Christian. While preaching in a small church in Florida, a young evangelist noticed that his gold wristwatch sparkled in the light. He wrote, "I saw people looking at it. The Lord said to me, `Take it off. It's distracting.' I said, `Lord, I can surely wear a wristwatch that my daddy gave me.' But it was sensitivity that God was teaching me—to be sensitive to the little things. I took it off and . . . never wore it in the pulpit again." It's not always easy to know when God is speaking, because inner urgings may arise from fear, selfish desire, or Satan. Yet if we learn biblical principles through reading the Word, and if we daily yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we will gradually come to recognize His gentle prompting. The writer of Hebrews said that mature believers have had their senses "exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb 5:14). Whatever exalts Christ over self comes from God, and we can obey with confidence. But whatever is unkind, unloving, and self-seeking grieves the Spirit. When we do something like this, we must confess our disobedience to God at once to restore our fellowship with Him. "Lord, make me sensitive" is a prayer that should always be on our hearts. When we yield ourselves to the Spirit's control, we do not lose our self-control

Lorriane Pintus offers some interesting insights on grieving the Spirit in the Old Testament  

The Israelites "rebelled and grieved [God's] Holy Spirit" (Isa. 63:10). Psalm 78 documents the actions that prompted God's sorrow. (1) Forgetting God. "They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them" (Ps. 78:11). God freed the Israelites from captivity, parted the Red Sea, provided bread in the desert, and led His people to a prosperous land. "In spite of all this, they kept on sinning" (Ps. 78:32). God lamented, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you" (Isa. 49:15). But "you deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth" (Dt. 32:18). (2) Grumbling. "They spoke against God" (Ps. 78:19). Daily, God provided the Israelites with the "bread of angels." But they weren't satisfied; they whined for more. Their complaints made God "exceedingly angry" (Num. 11:10). Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses, God's appointed leader. "The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them," and Miriam became leprous (Num. 12:9). When God allowed the Israelites to glimpse the glory of the promised land, they grumbled about the great size of the people instead of being grateful for the great size of the grapes. God sighed, "How long will this wicked community grumble against me?" (Num. 14:27). (3) Disobedience. "They did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by his law" (Ps. 78:10). "Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel" (Ps. 78:41). The Israelites' repeated disobedience saddened God. "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?" He asked (Ex. 16:28). (4) Disbelief. "They did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance" (Ps. 78:22). Ten times God is described in Psalm 78 as being angry, grieved, or vexed. Disturbed by their lack of faith, God cried, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?" (Nu 14:11). (Ed: As an aside Disobedience and Disbelief are two sides of the same coin so to speak as shown by comparing two adjacent passages in Hebrews - Hebrews 3:18-note and Hebrews 3:19-note.) (See the full article - Discipleship Journal)

Pintus then goes on to note that in the New Testament, grieving of the Spirit has as different emphasis noting that in the OT

"grieving the Spirit was connected to the people's response to God. In the New Testament, grieving the Spirit also includes our response to one another in the Body of Christ. Paul explains this in Eph. 4:29-32 as he illustrates how we can keep from grieving the Spirit: avoid unwholesome talk; build others up rather than yourself; share; rid yourself of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander; be compassionate. The consistent goal of the Spirit in the New Testament is that we achieve unity by maintaining right relationships with one another and using our gifts to serve the Body. Ephesians 4:12-13 says to serve one another "so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith." Jesus' final plea before the crucifixion was that we would all be one and "brought to complete unity" (Jn. 17:23). Paul urges in Eph. 4:3, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit." But the church in Jesus' day lacked both service and unity, due in large measure to the ruling religious sect, the Pharisees. "Pharisee" is derived from the Hellenized word pharisaioi, which means "the separated ones." By Jesus' day it appeared that the Pharisees had set themselves apart because they secretly believed they were spiritually superior to others. Jesus called them "vipers," "fools," and "blind guides." Stephen included them in his description of those who "always resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51). Why was God so upset with these leaders? The reasons should be of concern to us because we grieve the Holy Spirit if we are guilty of these same sins. 

Pride. The Pharisees demanded seats of honor at public events. They loved the esteem of the people and being called "Rabbi." They expected to be served, rather than to serve. Jesus exposed their arrogance in a parable that portrayed a Pharisee as boasting, "God, I thank you that I am not like all other men" (Lk. 18:11). What a contrast to Paul's teaching in Phil. 2:1-3: "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit... then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." 

Self-effort. The Pharisees trusted in their good works to make them righteous, rather than in God. They erroneously believed they could achieve spiritual blessing through the effort of the flesh. But Jesus said in Jn. 3:6, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength" (Jer. 17:5). "Apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5). Scripture condemns all self-effort and warns us to beware of our tendency to act independently of God. "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Gal. 3:3). 

Resistance to the Spirit. "Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt" (1 Thess. 5:19-20). Guilty on both counts, the Pharisees doused the flames of the Spirit by attributing Jesus' works to Satan (Mt. 12:25-32) and thumbing their noses at the Scriptures concerning Christ. The Pharisees' refusal to yield to the Spirit was rooted in their fear of the Spirit. The Pharisees clung to the comfort of the Law, insisting God would never work beyond the Law—at least, not without first consulting them! Jesus was surprisingly patient with their insolence and explained, "Every teacher of the law... is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old" (Mt. 13:52). And "do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets... but to fulfill them" (Mt. 5:17). Still, the Pharisees turned a deaf ear, confident God would work as He had in the past. Their failure to embrace a new work of the Spirit ultimately caused them to oppose the God they claimed to serve. 

Hypocrisy. The Pharisees were spiritual leaders with no Spirit. They professed to know God yet they failed to recognize His own Son. They put demands upon others they were unwilling to accept themselves. Jesus warned, "Do not do what [the Pharisees] do, for they do not practice what they preach" (Mt. 23:3). "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs... on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness" (Mt. 23:27-28). Jesus' final analysis was sad: "These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me" (Mk. 7:6).

Legalism. Intellectualism was the god of the Pharisees. Consumed with order, tradition, and doctrine, they so immersed themselves in the study of God's Law and the explanation of it that they ended up missing God Himself! When the Pharisees scolded Jesus' disciples for failing to wash their hands before eating, Jesus rebuked them, "You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition" (Mt. 15:6). In their zeal for theological correctness, the Pharisees reduced religion to a purely intellectual exercise, effectively squelching the Spirit and eliminating responses of the heart. Emotion was unwelcome, unless, of course, it was permitted by the Law. As a result, their hearts were hardened (Mk. 3:5). Jesus said angrily, "Woe to you... you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness" (Mt. 23:23). Paul, himself a Pharisee, recognized the dangers of legalism and rightly warned, "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor. 3:6). 

Consequences of Grieving the Holy Spirit - Grieving the Spirit carries serious consequences. The actions of the Israelites grieved the Spirit, and God withdrew His protection and fought against them (Isa. 63:10, Acts 7:42-43). The attitudes of the Pharisees grieved the Spirit and they were condemned to hell (Mt. 23:13, Mt. 23:33). But the most common result of grieving the Spirit in the Old Testament was simply that He left. Prior to Pentecost, the Spirit was given to selected individuals for a temporary period of time. That is why David, who experienced the coming and going of the Spirit in his own life, pleaded in Ps. 51:11, "Do not... take your Holy Spirit from me." Today, the Spirit works differently. The moment a person accepts Christ as his Savior, he is immediately indwelt and sealed forever by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14, Jn. 14:16). We need never question our eternal destiny or doubt God's intentions toward us (1 Jn. 4:16). The Spirit will never leave us, but if we grieve Him, He may temporarily withdraw His fellowship and power. For the Christian who consistently abides in the Spirit, no consequence could be more devastating. We cannot expect to understand grieving the Spirit apart from that aspect of the Spirit's personality that makes Him cautiously respectful of our will. The Holy Spirit never forces Himself upon us. At times, we may even wish He was more insistent, that He'd whack us on the head and shout, "Don't do that... it makes Me REALLY mad." Instead, He quietly, gently, convicts us of sin and leaves us to choose: Will I please Him? Or grieve Him? 

To compile a list of everything that grieves the Spirit and carefully avoid each item on the list would, itself, grieve the Spirit! God doesn't want to immobilize us with a "don't do" list. (Ed: The essence of Legalism! See Paul's strong warning in Galatians 3:3) And, ultimately, we'd end up trusting in a list to achieve our goal, rather than in God. Instead, God prefers that we are continually aware of the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence and sensitive to how deeply sin affects Him, and us. It is good to understand the biblical theology of grieving the Spirit. It helps when we are able to feel God's sorrow over sin. But the surest way to avoid grieving the Spirit is to know Him and walk in a moment-by-moment, love relationship with Him. Then, grieving Him becomes unthinkable. (Ibid)

Quick Check: Are you grieving the Holy Spirit? 

  1. Do you resist God on an emotional level? 
  2. Do you restrict the Holy Spirit, insisting He operate only as He has in the past? 
  3. Are you prideful? 
  4. In the course of your day, do you forget God? 
  5. Are you critical of others? 
  6. Do you look at what God has provided and pronounce it "insufficient"? 
  7. Are you afraid of the Holy Spirit? 
  8. Do you worry? 
  9. Does work weigh you down, leaving you frustrated and exhausted? 
  10. Do you assure others that "God is in control" but fail to believe this yourself? 

If you are grieving the Spirit, CRY: 1. Confess your failure and ask for forgiveness. 2. Receive the grace God freely offers. 3. Yield yourself afresh to the joy of His fellowship. "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Lk. 11:13).  (Ibid)

Spiritual Aphasia - These things we also speak, in words which the Holy Spirit teaches (1 Corinthians 2:13). Aphasia is a loss of the ability to speak, a condition that results when the message from the brain cannot get to the tongue because of an injury or illness. A similar spiritual malady affects many Christians. They know Jesus Christ, but they never speak of Him. They are familiar with God's plan of salvation, but they never tell it to others. They do not demonstrate the impelling force of the early Christians who said, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). This faulty connection between knowledge and testimony must be cor­rected. Often fear causes the breakdown, or sometimes sin blocks our freedom to speak about Christ. Only as believers rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and forsake their sin can they consistently share Christ with others. Just before His ascension, the risen Christ assured His disciples of power to transmit His message to the world (Acts 1:8). That power is the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. Every believer has this source. But if we quench or grieve the Holy Spirit, our witness in words will be either ineffective or nonexistent. We must keep the message of the gospel flowing to those around us who need to hear it. We can't let spiritual aphasia silence our witness.—Paul R VanGorder If we have God's Word in our minds, He can put the right words in our mouths.

How Was I To Know? (Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12) - Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. —Ephesians 4:30 - It was high-school concert season, and the music students were preparing for the big Christmas extravaganza. The teacher had clearly communicated every detail to the students and to the parents—on two different occasions—and the time for mandatory rehearsal was clearly spelled out. But on rehearsal day one panicky mother called during practice to see what time her teenager was supposed to show up. Another called to say, “Oh, we’re taking Tommy to Grandma’s. It’s okay if he misses rehearsal, right?” When the teacher reminded the parents that this required practice had already started, she heard, “Why didn’t somebody tell me? How was I to know?” Just as this teacher was troubled that her clear instructions were ignored, is it possible that God is troubled by our tendency to ignore His clear instructions? In 1 Thessalonians, Paul reminds us that his God-inspired message tells us “how to live in order to please God” and that those instructions have “the authority of the Lord Jesus” (4:1-2 niv). The Lord is grieved, Paul explains, when we ignore His teaching and live our own way (Eph. 4:30–5:2). Let’s make a point to read God’s instructions and then live by them—with no excuses. By Dave Branon |

God’s Word was given for our good
And we are to obey,
Not choose the parts that we like best,
Then live in our own way.
—Hess

There is no good excuse for ignoring God.

Grieve Not The Spirit (Ephesians 4:25-32) - I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever. —John 14:16 - If money were missing mysteriously from your wallet, you would be angry. But if you discovered that your child was the one who stole it, your anger would quickly turn into grief. One use of the word grief is to describe the sorrow we feel when those we love disappoint us. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30) essentially means not to hurt the One who loves us and is here to help us. For we read Jesus’ words in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit is sent to us by the Father to be our Helper. When the Holy Spirit in us is grieved by our actions or attitudes, the result can be tremendous tension. The Spirit pulls us in one direction, but the lusts of the flesh pulls us in another. Paul describes this in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” If this continues, we may begin to feel guilty and dissatisfied with life. Soon, joy and vigor may diminish within us, only to be replaced by listlessness and lethargy (Ps. 32:3-4). So do not grieve the Holy Spirit who was given in love to help you. “Put away” the bad choices of the flesh (Eph. 4:31), and live faithfully for God. - By Albert Lee

Holy Spirit, all divine,
Dwell within this heart of mine;
Cast down every idol throne,
Reign supreme and reign alone. —Reed 

The Christian’s heart is the Spirit’s home.

Listen To His Promptings - After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. —Acts 16:7 On Friday, my day of rest as a pastor, the Holy Spirit prompted me to call a young single mother in our faith community to see if her car had been repaired. I had some reservations about making the call, but I obeyed. Little did I know that my obedience would help save her life. She said later: “Friday at work I was planning on taking my life; but in a time of need, I believe God was there for me. He had Pastor Williams call me, and just by listening to his voice, I knew that God loved me.” The apostle Paul must have had reservations when the Holy Spirit prompted him and his team not to go into the provinces of Asia and Bithynia. Instead, they felt the Spirit’s call to go into Macedonia to preach the good news. In each situation, they obeyed the Spirit’s promptings. As a result, Paul and his team were instrumental in giving birth to a new faith community in Philippi (Acts 16:11-15). As believers in Christ who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:22), our desire should be to please Him. May we not grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) by ignoring His gentle promptings. When we obey Him, we might be used by God to lead someone to Christ, to disciple new believers—or even to help save somebody’s life.  Marvin Williams

Holy Spirit, we would hear
Your inner promptings, soft and clear;
And help us know Your still, small voice
So we may make God's will our choice.
—D. De Haan

Make the right choice: Obey the Spirit's voice.

When God Feels Pain - If you love Me, keep My commandments. —John 14:15 (Read: Hebrews 4:14-5:3) A men’s group was discussing the reasons for living a morally pure life. One man argued that it was fear that kept him in line. Another insisted it was love. But a third man suggested that it was a love-motivated fear. Yes, he did fear the shame, the disgrace, and the punishment he might endure for wrongdoing, but worst of all was the fear of making his wife suffer. “I’d rather be beaten to death,” he exclaimed, “than to see the hurt in the eyes of the woman I love.” That sheds some light on our Savior’s statement, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). If we willfully break those commandments, we will suffer loss. But it should also matter to us how God responds to our disobedience. Hosea 11:8 tells us that God the Father feels loving anguish. Because of Israel’s sin, He said, “My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.” Jesus also experiences pain when we disobey. He wept over the city of Jerusalem when it spurned His love (Lk. 13:34). And in Ephesians 4:30-31, Paul exhorted believers not to grieve the Holy Spirit by being hard-hearted. If we consider how much pain God feels when we are disobedient, we will find ample motivation to shun what is wrong and pursue what is right.

O help me, Lord, to be afraid
Of disobeying You;
And may I bring You highest praise
In everything I do.  —Sper

The highest motive for serving God is the desire to please Him.

BY WHOM YOU WERE SEALED FOR THE DAY OF REDEMPTION : en o esphragisethete (2PAPI) eis hemeran apolutroseos: (Eph 1:13) (Eph 1:14; Hosea 13:14; Luke 21:28; Romans 8:11,23; 1Corinthians 1:30; 15:54)

THE DAY OF HIS RETURN
AND OUR REDEMPTION

Why would Paul mention the day of redemption in this passage on grieving the Spirit? What is the day of redemption? Is it not our blessed hope? Is it not something about which we can be 100% certain? What does future hope do to our present behavior? Does it not serve to motivate us? And in the context it serves as a Biblical truth which should cause us to do all we can to avoid grieving the Spirit. And so as we look forward to Jesus' imminent return at which time we shall be like Him (the redeemed fully redeemed and like the redeemer! = 1Jn 3:2), that mindset (that truth) should motivate us to purify our selves as He is pure (1Jn 3:3, cp this future hope in Ro 8:23).

Sealed (4972) (sphragizo [word study] from sphragis = seal, engraved object used to make a mark - denoting ownership, approval, or closure of something normally done by pressing into heated wax usually attached to a document or letter) means to set a seal upon, mark with a seal. In the secular Greek use of sphragizo, the sealing signified at least four results --

(1) Finished Transaction

(2) A Mark of Ownership -- Buyers of timber in the forests of Asia Minor would select trees which would be felled, stamped them with the buyer’s seal, and floated them downstream. At the port in Ephesus, the markings would identify the logs. God stamps us with His seal, indicating ownership.

(3) A Bond of Security -- Both Daniel’s lions’ den and Christ’s tomb were sealed by royal decree. When we come to Christ, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, implying security.

(4) An Imprint of Authenticity or of Identity -- In ancient times, everyone’s unique seal, when pressed into wax, imprinted his identity.

Sphragizo - 15x in 14v - Mt 27:66; John 3:33; 6:27; Rom 15:28; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30; Rev 7:3ff, 8; 10:4; 20:3; 22:10. NAS = put...seal on(1), seal(2), sealed(9), set a seal on(1), set...seal to(2).

Charles Wesley wrote in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”...

Adam’s likeness now efface

Stamp Thine image in its place.

God places the Holy Spirit in us permanently as His "signet" (signet = a seal used to stamp or authenticate documents)

Sealed is in the aorist tense which is a past completed action. The passive voice signifies that subject, believers, are acted upon by an outside force or power, God. The indicative mood is the mood of certainty which states a thing as being a fact -- the point is that every believer receives the Holy Spirit the moment he or she believes.

The good news then is that the "sealed work" (see note Ephesians 1:13) of the Spirit is final and cannot be "unsealed," even though we may "grieve" the Spirit! Amazing grace and mercy!

In antiquity people used seals to authenticate documents (Jer. 32:10), and archaeologists have discovered more than 1,200 seals from Old Testament times.

S Lewis Johnson has an interesting discussion of sealing...

This was particularly significant for the Ephesians, because in Ephesus, there was a great deal of trading going on in timber. And it was a kind of center for that. And individuals in the harbor of Ephesus in those days, which was different from the Ephesus of the present time, the harbor would be filled with logs which had been brought down from that inner part of Asia Minor. And when individuals came from the other cities, round about, or the villages, round about, to buy lumber, because there was a good bit of industry in that area, they would buy some of the logs that were floating in the harbor, and they would take a seal. And they would make their particular mark on each of the logs that belonged to them which they bought. And later on, when the time came for them to take possession of these things, someone would come back with the seal, and then the particular logs that belonged to him would be identified, and then taken to the particular place where they were to be used.

Well, it’s something like that with us. Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption. So, the Holy Spirit has been implanted within us as a person who dwells within us permanently, and that is the sign, that’s the seal of our redemption. And the time is coming when the Lord Jesus shall come for our redemption, and he shall obtain his property, and each of us shall have the seal, the seal of the Holy Spirit. So, don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption. I think that that expression, the day of redemption, in the light of the Apostle’s statements elsewhere, refers to the time when we receive our glorified bodies. (Ephesians 4:25-5:2 The Christian's Use of the Tongue )

Day (2250) (hemera) can describe a literal day, but in this context more likely is used figuratively to describe the period of time appointed for the final redemption.

Paul emphasizes the great hope (absolute certainty of future good) of this future and final aspect of our redemption...

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly (apekdechomai in the present tense = should be our lifestyle) for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Ro 8:23-note)

Comment: This verse describes "future tense salvation" (see Three Tenses of Salvation) which Peter wrote was "ready to be revealed in the last time" {1Pe 1:5-note, 1Pe 1:13-note, Ro 8:30-note} when we are finally freed even from the presence of Sin. Because believers are already new creatures possessing the divine nature, their souls are fit for heaven and eternal glory. They love God, hate sin, and have holy longings for obedience to the Word (not perfection, but definitely "direction!"). But while on earth they are kept in bondage by their mortal bodies (Gal 5:17 describes the ongoing war), which are still corrupted by Sin and the flesh both of which are still present in our decaying bodies.

Paul alludes to this day in his letter to the Philippians...

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly (expectantly) wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory (At which time our "redemption" will be complete), by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Php 3:20, 21-note)

Redemption (629) (apolutrosis [word study] from apo = marker of dissociation or separation + lutroo = to redeem in turn from lúo = loosen what is bound, loose any person tied or fastened) describes the payment of a price to ransom (lutron = money for a ransom = ransom or price paid for a slave who is then set free by the one who bought him), to release (of someone from the power of someone else), to buy back or to deliver one from a situation from in which one is powerless to liberate themselves from or for which the penalty was so costly that they could never hope to pay the ransom price. In other words, the idea of redemption is deliverance or release by payment of a ransom.

Related Resources: Word Studies on other words related to redemption...

Barclay writes that apolutrosis conveys "In every case the conception (of) the delivering of a man from a situation from which he was powerless to liberate himself or from a penalty which he himself could never have paid." He goes on to relate that the Roman philosopher Seneca who tutored and advised Nero was "full of this kind of feeling of helpless frustration. Men, he said, were overwhelmingly conscious of their inefficiency in necessary things. He said of himself that he was a homo non tolerabilis, a man not to be tolerated. Men, he said with a kind of despair, love their vices and hate them at the same time. What men need, he cried, is a hand let down to lift them up. The highest thinkers in the pagan world knew that they were in the grip of something from which they were helpless to deliver themselves. They needed liberation. It was just that liberation which Jesus Christ brought. It is still true that he can liberate men from helpless slavery to the things which attract and disgust them at one and the same time." (Ephesians 4 Commentary)

Apolutrosis was used was used in secular Greek as a technical term for money paid to buy back and set free prisoners of war or to emancipate (= to liberate a person from subjection or domination, to free from restraint, control, or the power of another) slaves from their masters.

Apolutrosis would have been a very meaningful term to the first century reader as there were by some accounts up to 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire! Many of these slaves became Christians and fellowshipped in the local assemblies. A slave could purchase his own freedom, if he could collect sufficient funds or his master could sell him to someone who would pay the price and set him free. Redemption was a precious thing in Paul's day.

Jesus answering the unbelieving Jews who claimed never to have been enslaved to anyone (which of course was incorrect historically) "answered them" declaring "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." (Jn 8:34)

Believers have been ransomed, bought out of slavery to Sin (Ro 6:16), even as was foreshadowed in the OT by the redemption of a bondservant by the kinsman-redeemer (Lev 25:49). (See Kinsman-Redeemer = Goel; Goel = Kinsman Redeemer = in Ruth)

Before redemption we were held captive by Satan to do his will (1Jn 5:19, Ep 2:2) and were enslaved to our old sin nature inherited from Adam (1Co 15:22, Ro 5:12). As noted above a Roman or Grecian slave could be freed with the payment of money, but no amount of money can set an enslaved sinner free. We owed a debt we could never pay, while Christ paid a debt He did not owe.

The redemption of a sinner is only possible by payment of the ransom price, the blood of Christ. Peter writes that believers "were not redeemed (lutroo) with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile (a lifestyle that is without purpose, unfruitful, and useless) way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." (1Pe 1:18, 19-note, cf 1Cor 6:20-note; Rev 5:9-note)

Jesus explained to His disciples that "even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom (lutron = the ransom price) for many." (Mk 10:45, cp cf Mt 20:28)

I Gave My Life for Thee
Play Hymn
Frances Ridley Havergal
(Her first hymn!)

I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed;
That thou might ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead.
I gave, I gave, My life for thee,
What hast thou given for Me?

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Sensitivity to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, even in little things that seem harmless, marks the mature Christian. While preaching in a small church in Florida, a young evangelist noticed that his gold wristwatch sparkled in the light. He wrote,

"I saw people looking at it. The Lord said to me, `Take it off. It's distracting.' I said, `Lord, I can surely wear a wristwatch that my daddy gave me.' But it was sensitivity that God was teaching me—to be sensitive to the little things. I took it off and . . . never wore it in the pulpit again."

It's not always easy to know when God is speaking, because inner urgings may arise from fear, selfish desire, or Satan. Yet if we learn biblical principles through reading the Word, and if we daily yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we will gradually come to recognize His gentle prompting. The writer of Hebrews said that mature believers have had their senses "exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb 5:14-note). Whatever exalts Christ over self comes from God, and we can obey with confidence. But whatever is unkind, unloving, and self-seeking grieves the Spirit. When we do something like this, we must confess our disobedience to God at once to restore our fellowship with Him.

"Lord, make me sensitive" is a prayer that should always be on our hearts. —D. J. DeHaan. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When we yield ourselves to the Spirit's control,
we do not lose our self-control.

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THE WORK OF THE
HOLY SPIRIT

In Morning and Evening Spurgeon wrote...

All that the believer has must come from Christ, but it comes solely through the channel of the Spirit of grace (cp 2Ti 2:1-note). Moreover, as all blessings thus flow to you through the Holy Spirit, so also no good thing can come out of you in holy thought, devout worship, or gracious act, apart from the sanctifying operation of the same Spirit. Even if the good seed be sown in you, yet it lies dormant except he worketh in you to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Do you desire to speak for Jesus—how can you unless the Holy Ghost touch your tongue? Do you desire to pray? Alas! what dull work it is unless the Spirit maketh intercession for you! Do you desire to subdue sin? Would you be holy? Would you imitate your Master? Do you desire to rise to superlative heights of spirituality? Are you wanting to be made like the angels of God, full of zeal and ardour for the Master’s cause? You cannot without the Spirit—“Without me ye can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) O branch of the Vine, thou canst have no fruit without the Sap! O child of God, thou hast no life within thee apart from the life which God gives thee through His Spirit! (Jn 3:6, 6:63, 2Co 3:6, Ro 8:2-note, Ro 8:6-note) Then let us not grieve Him or provoke Him to anger by our sin (Ps 106:33-note). Let us not quench Him in one of His faintest motions in our soul (1Th 5:19-note); let us foster every suggestion, and be ready to obey every prompting (cp 1Ki 19:12KJV). If the Holy Spirit be indeed so mighty, let us attempt nothing without Him; let us begin no project, and carry on no enterprise, and conclude no transaction, without imploring His blessing. Let us do Him the due homage of feeling our entire weakness apart from Him, and then depending alone upon Him, having this for our prayer, “Open Thou my heart and my whole being to Thine incoming, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit when I shall have received that Spirit in my inward parts.” (Ps 51:12KJV)

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G Campbell Morgan  - Two ideas are brought prominently before the mind in this injunction, and their interrelationship is very suggestive. The first is that of the character of the Spirit, in that Paul here, with evident intention, employed the full and solemn description, "the Holy Spirit of God," every word of which is full of meaning, while laying the supreme emphasis upon the holiness of the Spirit. The other is that of the deep love-nature of the Spirit, in that Paul speaks of Him as being capable of sorrow, for the simple meaning of the injunction is, "Cause not sorrow to the Holy Spirit of God." The interrelation of the ideas reveals to us the effect which sin produces on the Spirit of God. It causes sorrow. Perhaps no Apostolic injunction, if its force be rightly appre­hended, constitutes a more prevailing incentive to a walk which is in holiness and truth. Thus is created that new fear which is of the very essence of safety. The old slavish fear of God, which was fear of His anger, and of suffering which such anger might bring to us, is completely done away by the manifestation of His love in Christ but now a new fear takes possession of us; and that is a fear lest anything we do or say should cause sorrow to Him. The old fear produces no high spiritual or moral results. This new fear keeps the soul in living touch with the loving Lord and so ensures its growth in strength and purity and beauty. (Morgan, G. Campbell. Life Applications).

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J R Miller - The new man (Ed: see discussion of New Man) will not "grieve the Holy Spirit of God." It scarcely seems possible to us at first, that we could give pain to God. Yet the apostles warned the Ephesians against this very thing. Boys know what kind of things in their life grieve their mothers. The Holy Spirit is nearer to all of us than any mother can be, and has a more tender heart. Let us watch our words, our acts, our wishes and feelings, and all the motives of our life, lest we grieve the Holy Spirit. (Devotional Hours in the Bible)

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In his devotional Truth for Today John MacArthur writes "The Holy Spirit grieves (is saddened) when believers don’t exchange their old lifestyle (Ed: See discussion of Old Man) for the new one (New Man). He is grieved when believers lie and obscure the truth, when they’re angry and unforgiving, when they steal and refuse to share, and when they speak corruptly and lack a spirit of graciousness. When you were saved, the Spirit of God put a seal on you, declaring that you belong to God forever. Since He has been gracious enough to give you eternal salvation, seal you forever, and keep your salvation secure until the day of redemption, how could you willfully grieve Him? He has done so much for you that, as a token of gratitude, you should not grieve Him.

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Andrew Murray - THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - I pray that … he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 3:16)  Pray for the full manifestation of the grace and energy of the Holy Spirit to remove all that is contrary to God’s revealed will. Do this so that we do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Then He can work with mightier power in the church for the exaltation of Christ and for our blessing. All prayer unites in the one request—the power of the Holy Spirit. Make it your prayer. Pray as a child asks a father. “You fathers—if your children ask for bread, do you give them a stone? … If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:11, 13). Ask as simply and trustfully as a child asks for food. You can do this because “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father” (Galatians 4:6). This Spirit is in you to give you childlike confidence. Have faith in the fact that He is praying in you. In that faith, ask for the power of the Holy Spirit everywhere. Mention places or groups where you especially desire it to be seen. (365 Daily Devotions on Prayer)

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David Jeremiah's prayer in "Life Changing Moments with God" - Lord God, You have given me the love of Your Holy Spirit … my Helper. In all my affliction You are afflicted, and the Angel of Your Presence saves me; in Your love and in Your pity You redeem, and You bear, and carry me. But I rebel and grieve Your Holy Spirit; so You turn Yourself against me as an enemy, and You fight against me. I know that I abide in You, Lord God, and You in me, because You have given me of Your Spirit. Believing, I was sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, the guarantee of my inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. So I will walk in the Spirit, and not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that I do not do the things that I wish. Your Spirit also helps in my weaknesses.     Thank You, God, for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who is my Helper, my Strength, my Guide. May He enable me to live so that I honor You.

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Greg Laurie in "Walking with Jesus" writes about sins against the Holy Spirit -  "How could you turn away from the Lord and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now?" ( Joshua 22:16) The Holy Spirit is surely the most misunderstood member of the Trinity. We can at least partially grasp the idea of God as a Father. And certainly, with the help of Gospels like John, we can grasp the idea of God as the Son. But the Holy Spirit is much harder to wrap our minds around. That may be because in Scripture he is compared to both wind and fire, among other things, so we may begin to think of him as an “it” more than a “him.” Know this: not only does the Holy Spirit God have a distinct personality, he also can be specifically sinned against! The New Testament mentions six offenses that can be committed against the Holy Spirit. Some specifically apply to unbelievers, while others apply to believers. Still others apply to both.
1. We lie to the Holy Spirit. Acts 5:1–5 tells the story of Ananias and Sapphira, two so-called Christians who tried to cheat the church out of some money. Peter caught them in the act and rebuked them, telling them in lying to the Holy Spirit, they had lied to God. Immediately, Ananias dropped dead.
2. We grieve the Holy Spirit. This offense applies to believers. Ephesians 4:30–31 tells us, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” The phrase “to grieve” means “to make sad or sorrowful.” When we allow bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, slander, and any type of malicious behavior to take place in our lives, we grieve the Holy Spirit. Are you harboring a grudge against someone? Have you been slandering (speaking lies about) anyone lately? Have you been flying into fits of rage? All of this grieves the Holy Spirit.
3. We quench the Holy Spirit. This, too, applies to believers. The apostle Paul exhorted the Thessalonians, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thess. 5:19). Unbelief certainly can hinder the working and moving of God’s Holy Spirit. This happened in Jesus’s hometown as the people questioned his authority. We read that “He did not do many mighty miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matt. 13:58). Quenching the Spirit can occur when the Holy Spirit is leading you to do a certain thing, such as sharing your faith with someone, praying more, or taking a step of faith in a certain area, and you flatly refuse to do it. Has God called you to serve him with your life? Has he led you to do something? Are you doing it? If not, then you’re quenching the Holy Spirit. The list continues with sins that involve pushing the Spirit away.
4. We resist the Holy Spirit. Stephen, as he spoke to the unbelieving Sanhedrin, said, “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51). The Holy Spirit seeks to speak to the heart of the unbeliever and lead him or her to God. The Holy Spirit is incredibly patient and persistent, but it is possible to resist all the Spirit’s pleadings, as we discover from Genesis 6:3, where God said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever.” Apparently the spiritual leaders of Israel whom Stephen was addressing had resisted the Holy Spirit. It seems they were convinced of the truth of what Stephen was telling them, yet they would not yield their hearts.
5. We insult the Holy Spirit. When someone refuses to accept Jesus Christ, he is denying the very mission of the Holy Spirit. He’s saying he doesn’t need salvation or doesn’t believe Jesus Christ can save him or that Jesus’s work on the cross was unnecessary. Hebrews warns, “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb.10:29). Therefore, to resist the Holy Spirit’s appeal is to insult God and cut off all hope of salvation. The Bible poses this alarming question: “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).
6. We blaspheme the Holy Spirit. This is the unpardonable sin, which can be committed only by unbelievers. In speaking of this sin, Jesus said, "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:31–32) This is the most serious offense against the Holy Spirit, because there is no forgiveness for the one who commits it. So what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Again, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin and bring us to Jesus Christ. To blaspheme the Spirit is similar to insulting the Spirit by resisting the Spirit’s work altogether. This sin should not be the concern of any Christian because it is not a sin a believer can or will commit. But for the person who is playing some silly religious game, there is great cause for concern, because this is a point of no return. Where and when this would occur in an individual’s life, only God could say. So instead of lying to, grieving, quenching, or insulting and resisting the Holy Spirit, we should be open to the Spirit’s work in our lives. The Spirit wants to show us our need for Jesus Christ and then fill and empower us to be the people God wants us to be.

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Stan Toler in "Devotions for Pastors" refers to grieving the Spirit in his discussion entitled - "Morality"  "Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow." (Mahatma Gandhi). (Toler writes) "He was my mentor for preaching. As a young ministerial student I followed his ministry with great enthusiasm. He could sprinkle the stardust with his oratories. Without question, he will be remembered as one of the greatest camp meeting speakers of the twentieth century. Recently, my hero sat across the breakfast table from me. Having been removed from the pulpit, he was a broken man—a life in shambles and a ministry ruined by years of illicit sexual behavior that had finally caught up with him. At his age there was little hope for restoration to ministry.   

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

As the tears flowed freely, my fallen preacher hero asked for my forgiveness. I reminded him that I loved and forgave him. I emphasized that God in heaven had also forgiven him. He acknowledged that he was forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As I watched him walk away, shoulders slumped, I thought of the mighty cleansing power of God’s forgiveness and grace. I then thought of the people who might never hear one of his inspirational messages because of his sin. I still think he’s the best ever to stand behind the sacred pulpit. I know my hero is forgiven by God—just as you and I are. But the consequences of his sin are a grievous thing. We must never forget this any time we are tempted to disobey God’s Word or the leading of the Holy Spirit. Faith into action - If you do not have a human spiritual confidant, begin to go through the process of identifying someone who is local and a spiritual peer with whom you could establish such a relationship. If you do have such a confidant, when you next meet, share the anecdote from this devotional and then discuss with this person what the ramifications of such sin would be in your world, to your ministry. Pray together for your protection.

Do Not Grieve the Spirit
Ray Pritchard

Ephesians 4:29-32 - “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

That’s Ephesians 4:29 in the New International Version. Whenever I read that verse, my mind goes back to a speech class I took in college. The teacher was a young man named Cecil Burhenn. I think it was his first or second year of teaching. He was friendly and wise and very earnest. On the first day of class, Mr. Burhenn said we were going to take a verse of Scripture as our theme for the semester. He picked Ephesians 4:29, which we repeated every time we met. Back then everything we learned came from the King James Version so that’s how I remember it: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” What the NIV translates as “unwholesome talk,” the King James translates as “corrupt communication.” The underlying Greek word means “rotten.” It was used for decaying flesh, rotten fish or rotten fruit. The meaning is, “Don’t let any putrid words come out of your mouth.” Or we might say in street lingo, “No trash talk!” What qualifies as rotten speech? Here are a few examples:

  • Vulgarity, obscenity, indecent language.
  • Dirty jokes, off-color stories.
  • Pornographic language.
  • Racial or ethnic insults.
  • Humor meant to insult or to put someone down.
  • Angry outbursts, harsh words.
  • Mean-spirited comments.
  • Gossip, rumors, false accusations.
  • Imputing bad motives.
  • Public criticism of your spouse or children.
  • Yelling and screaming.
  • Threats and intimidating comments.
  • Endless criticism.
  • Quick, cutting comments.
  • Cheap shots.
  • Talking too much.
  • Talking without listening.
  • Condemning others.
  • Exaggerating the faults of others.
  • Excusing unkind words by saying, “I was only joking.”

The Greek construction of verse 29 is a bit unusual. The verse opens with a Greek word that means “all, each, every.” The word meaning “no” occurs later in the verse. That gives a particular emphasis to his words:

  • Every critical comment that comes out of your mouth … not!
  • Every filthy word that comes out of your mouth … not!
  • Every harsh word that comes out of your mouth … not!
  • Every cheap shot that comes out of your mouth … not!
  • Every bit of gossip that comes out of your mouth … not!

Set on Fire by Hell

Why is this so important? Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Every time you open your mouth either life or death comes out. The Bible speaks of the throat as an “"open grave” (Romans 3:13). When there is death on the inside, it will eventually show up in the your words. According to Proverbs 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” And James 3:5-6 offers this penetrating warning:

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Ephesians 4:29 offers a Christian alternative: First, we are to speak good words that build up instead of tearing down. Second, we are to speak words that minister grace to those who hear them. And we are to do it all the time and in every circumstance. We are to speak good words that bring grace according to the need of the moment. Here is the teaching of the verse put very simply:

Every word … all good … all grace … all the time.

I asked the congregation to repeat that when I preached on Sunday. Take a moment and repeat it to yourself once or twice.

Sometimes we need a friend to remind us to watch what we say. Gordon MacDonald tells the story of a trip to Japan he took as a young man. One day, while walking the streets of Yokohama with an older pastor, he made a comment about a mutual friend. It was a quick, sarcastic comment that was unkind and unnecessary. The older pastor stopped, looked him in the face, and said, “A man who truly loves God would not talk about a friend like that.” Gordon MacDonald said it was as if a knife had been plunged between his ribs. The pain was so great that he didn’t know how to respond. Reflecting on that experience 20 years later, he remarked that the memory of those searing words had helped him 10,000 times when he was tempted to make a critical comment about a family member, a friend, a colleague or someone he knew casually. Many of us need to take that story to heart. “A man who truly loves God would not talk about a friend like that.”

We all have our excuses for what we say, don’t we? We’re tired or we’re provoked or we weren’t thinking or we didn’t mean it or it’s true so we said it. On and on we go, justifying our verbal diarrhea. We all have people in our lives that drive us nuts. Some people just seem to have the “spiritual gift” of irritation. They know how to get under our skin. It might be a friend or a spouse or our children. It certainly could be an ex-husband or an ex-wife. (When I mentioned your ex-husband or wife, someone in the congregation called out, Yes!)

What is God saying to us? No more stinking speech!

Grieving the Holy Spirit

Paul mentions the sad consequence of our unkind words in Eph 4:30: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Did you know that you could grieve the Holy Spirit who lives within you? The word “grieve” comes from a Greek word that signifies deep emotion. You can only grieve a close friend or a loved one. You can’t grieve a stranger you meet on the street. You can irritate a stranger and you can offend a casual acquaintance, but you can only grieve someone very close to you. As usual, Paul’s advice is both practical and profound. We tend to talk a lot about interpersonal problems, as if the greatest issue in life is how we relate to other people. But verse 30 reminds us that our primary relationship is always with God. And it is possible to grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You can make the Spirit weep because of your thoughtless words.

Here’s the reason: The Holy Spirit not only lives in you. He also lives in the Christian brother or sister you just slandered with your lips. Evil speech destroys Christian unity. Last night I read a bit of D. L. Moody on this topic. He commented that he had never known God to bless a church where the Lord’s people were divided. This is a word we need to hear today. This is God’s Word to Calvary Memorial Church and to every church. We tolerate and sometimes even encourage a thoughtless attitude in the way we speak to each other and about each other.

Every time I speak carelessly, I hurt at least three people: The person I speak carelessly about. Myself. The Holy Spirit. Every time I open my mouth, one of two things will happen:  I build someone up, or  I tear someone down.

This does not mean that we will never say anything hard or difficult. The warning goes to motive or purpose and must be judged by the context. Proverbs 27:6 reminds us that “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (KJV). Sometimes true friends “wound” each other in order to bring healing. Just as a doctor must sometimes cut us in surgery in order to remove what is killing us, true friends sometimes say things that aren’t easy to hear. But in those cases, true friends first remove the telephone pole from their own eye before they remove the speck of sawdust from someone else’s eye.

Rotten Attitudes

We grieve the Spirit first by rotten speech (Eph 4:29) and second by rotten attitudes (Eph 4:31). But these two things are not separate. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Whatever is in the heart must eventually come out in the words we say. Whatever is down in the well will come up in the bucket sooner or later. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (v. 31). These words describe a collection of wrong attitudes that corrode the soul from the inside out. They produce a spiritual jaundice that colors all we see. None of us is immune. Taken together, they form a kind of spiritual staircase of ascending evil. First there is bitterness, a word that means “pointed” or “sharp,” referring to the pain we feel when we think we’ve been mistreated. It speaks to a deep emotional reaction that keeps us from thinking clearly. If we dwell in bitterness long enough, it produces a wounded spirit and a hard heart.

The second step is wrath, a word that originally meant to snort. It has the idea of the nostrils being flared in anger. This is hot-tempered anger that explodes under the slightest provocation. We use the same image when we speak of someone being all steamed up, with smoke coming out his ears.

That leads to anger, the third step. This word speaks of a settled condition of the heart. Did you ever know a person who was angry all the time? I noticed on Sunday that when I asked that question in one of the services, two young girls nodded their heads vigorously. I wonder whom they were thinking about. Such a person seems to be angry all the time. They get up angry, they shower angry, they eat breakfast angry, they go to work angry, they come home angry, they watch TV angry, and they go to bed angry. And when they are happy, that makes them angry. Nothing pleases a person like that. Anger leads to jealousy, harsh words, and it can even lead to murder.

Angry people usually express themselves in brawling or clamor, the fourth step. The word means to raise your voice. It includes all forms of physical and verbal intimidation. It has the idea of shouting back and forth during a quarrel. How many arguments could be avoided if we didn’t raise our voices. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

Slander is the final step. Paul uses a very strong word to describe this form of evil speaking. It means to make false accusations about someone or to offer vague insinuations that make another person look worse than they really are. We can slander with our words, with a lifted eyebrow, with an unfinished sentence, with a rhetorical question left dangling in the air, or by quoting someone but taking their words and twisting them into something sinister. We can slander through insults, ridicule, cruel jokes, taunts, unkind nicknames, rumors, mocking, belittling, or by passing unfair and hasty judgment. In legal terms this is called “defamation of character.”

Words give us control over others. We all feel better if we can name something. Every word we say impacts our relationships for good or for ill. Once a slanderous word escapes our lips, our relationship is changed forever. It can never be the same again.

This was the particular sin of those who crucified Jesus. They mocked him and lied about him and falsely accused him. As a result of their slander, the Son of God was crucified. When you slander someone, you join with those who crucified our Lord.

Stairway to Hell

Malice, the final word, describes an underlying attitude of ill will. It’s a general dislike of others. Malice can be described as congealed hatred. A malicious person can’t get along with anyone.

Note the progression in the first five rotten attitudes:

  • Slander
  • Clamor
  • Anger
  • Wrath
  • Bitterness

What starts in the heart ends up on the lips. What begins with bitterness ends with slander. We think, we feel, and then we speak. What starts as a grievance becomes an outburst of wrath that hardens into anger that expresses itself in clamor and ultimately as slander. Malice marks such a person through and though. And it all starts with personal hurt that becomes bitterness. Stop it at the first and you won’t have to stop it at the last. That’s why Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to “guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”

We are doing Satan’s work when we climb that staircase. Every step is a step for him.

Note that Paul says to get rid of “all” these wrong attitudes:

  • No root of bitterness.
  • No symptoms of wrath.
  • No trace of anger.
  • No echo of clamor.
  • No slime of slander.
  • No dregs of malice.

As long we harbor these things within, the Holy Spirit weeps inside us.

From God to Us to Others

Those things must go … and be replaced with something much better. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph 4:32).

Kindness speaks of gentleness in the face of provocation. It reaches out to the unworthy and withholds punishment even when it is deserved. Kindness is daring and dangerous because some mistake it for weakness. It is “the oil that lubricates the machinery of life.”

Compassionate comes from a word that means “good intestines” because the ancients thought the intestines and the bowels were the seat of the emotions. We mean something similar when we speak of a belly laugh. Compassion says, “I will care for you and I will not shut you out.”

The key to forgiveness is the middle syllable—give. Forgiveness is a gift we give to those who don’t deserve it. Note that verse 32 starts with us and ends with God. We are kind, compassionate and forgiving to others because that’s how God has treated us.

From God … to us … to others.

We do for others what God has done for us. We have been forgiven; we know what it is like. Now do the same for others. We are not left to wonder what it means to forgive those who have hurt us.

You cannot understand God’s love unless you go to the cross.

You cannot understand the cross unless you see in it God’s love.

His death became a sacrifice that was a sweet aroma to the Father (Ephesians 5:1-2). Man’s murder became God’s sacrifice. A heinous crime paid an impossible debt. Through the death of an innocent man, we the guilty go free. If we had been there, the stench of death would have overwhelmed us, but the cross smelled good to the Father. The work of salvation was finally done:

See, from his hands, his feet, his head
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love or sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

This text ties the most practical spiritual duties with the loftiest spiritual truths:

  • No more trash talk.
  • No more bitterness.
  • No more wrath.
  • No more anger.
  • No more clamor.
  • No more slander.
  • No more malice.
  • No more making the Spirit weep within you.

Pastor Demitri

God asks us to do what he has already done for us. We are not to forgive in order to be forgiven. We forgive because we have been forgiven. Last weekend Marlene and I drove to Camp Forest Springs in northern Wisconsin for their Memorial Weekend Family Conference. I spoke five times on forgiveness. During each session a tall woman sat directly in front of me. After one message she introduced herself and told me a bit of her story, which included her own struggles with forgiveness. I received the following letter this week:

May 31, 2005

Dear Pastor Pritchard,

I left Camp Forest Springs with a full heart yesterday. Thank you for your ministry among us. I am the tall woman who sat pretty much front and center to you. Your last message was deeply challenging to me to go beyond just forgiving to the point of neutrality. Since Christ commanded that we be proactive in this matter, it can only be done by his power. Humanly speaking I am bankrupt. Just where he wants me.

Then she added a little smiley face in the text.

I carried the enclosed article around in my Bible for several years. I can’t tell you how many times I have read and reread it. I want you to have a copy for your illustration file.

She enclosed a photocopy of an article by Richard Wurmbrand published in the December 1998 issue of Voice of the Martyrs. Pastor Wurmbrand spent 14 years in a communist jail in Romania. This is part of what he wrote:

Let me tell you about a man who was in prison with me. Demitri was a pastor whose backbone had been beaten with a hammer. When certain vertebra was hit, he was paralyzed so that he could only move his neck.

You can imagine what a tragedy this was. If he had been in a home or hospital, he would have had a wife, mother, or nurse to take care of him. How would we take care of him? There was no running water to wash him, no linen to change him. He lay there in his human waste. He could not stretch out his hands to drink a cup of water. The others who could walk and work were taken to slave labor during the day. When they came back in the evening, he had to wait for them to help him drink a cup of water.

He lay like this in prison for a couple of years. It was hell on earth. Then in December 1989, Romania had a revolution and the dictator Ceausescu was overturned. Freedom came and Demitri was released from prison to be with his family and friends. No doctor could help him, but now he had loving hands to help him. He still could not move hand or foot.

One day someone knocked at his door. It was the Communist who had crippled him. He said, “Sir, don’t believe that I have come to ask forgiveness from you. For what I have done, there is no forgiveness, not on earth or in heaven. You are not the only one I have tortured like this. You cannot forgive me; nobody can forgive me. Not even God. My crime is much too great. I have come only to tell you that I am sorry about what I have done. From you I go to hang myself. That is all.” He turned to leave.

The paralyzed brother Demitri said to him, “Sir, in all these years I have not been so sorry as I am now, that I cannot move my arms. I would like to stretch them out to you and embrace you. For years I have prayed for you every day. I love you with all my heart. You are forgiven.”

Demitri had learned love from Jesus who called Judas “friend,” who prayed for those who crucified him, and who accepted Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor, and made him an apostle.

Our faith in Jesus means imitating him. Jesus, as often as he met a sinner, did not reproach him. He took that man’s sin upon himself and suffered on the cross for the sin.

If you want to know what love is like, go to Golgotha and fix your eyes on the man hanging from the center cross. Study what he did and you will know true love.

Then go and do for others what God has done for you.

But you say, “I can’t do that. You don’t know what they did to me.” What if God treated you as you treat others? You’d be in hell already.

What if God were as unkind and unmerciful as you are? What if he kept a record of your sins? You’d never get within a million miles of heaven.

“I’m going to trash him like he trashed me.” What if God said that about you?

“I don’t know how much I can take?” Just go as far as Jesus went for you.

Do you want to know what troubles me most about this text with its warning against rotten speech and rotten attitudes that grieve the Spirit? I see far too much of myself in it. It is so easy for us to be unkind and ungracious. Between the second and third services on Sunday, I found myself in the Portico talking with a friend. He made some quip about a third person who was not present and I made a quip back—a comment that I should not have made. As my friend walked away, I felt immediately pricked in my conscience. Even after preaching this sermon twice, I found it all too easy to violate the very thing I was trying to say to others. So I confess my own weakness and ask the Lord to baptize my mouth, sanctify my lips, and transform my heart.

Maybe you need the same thing. Perhaps you need to have a heart-to-heart talk with the Lord and then with others close to you. After the first service, a woman came up to me with tears and said, “Pastor, I’ve been so hard on my children. I’m going to go home, get them all together, and ask for their forgiveness.” That’s hard to do, but it’s also the path of true spiritual liberation.

Whatever God tells you to do, do it. Stop making the Holy Spirit weep because of your unkind words and your inner ugliness. Cry out to God for his help. Ask the Lord to open your eyes and see the uncleanness within. Pray for a fresh vision of Jesus dying for you.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit any longer. This is the word of the Lord. Amen. Do Not Grieve the Spirit - Keep Believing Ministries


GRIEVE NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT
James Smith 
Handfuls of Purpose
Ephesians 4:30

It is solemnly possible to grieve the Holy Spirit, because He is a gracious, loving, tender Personality. It is not possible to grieve or vex a mere influence. The wind bloweth where it listeth, you cannot grieve the wind; but the breath of the Holy Spirit is the breathings of the very heart of God. All the attributes of God are attributed to the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of truth, of wisdom, of life, and of power. To grieve Him is to hinder His loving and merciful operations in the heart, and thereby impoverish our lives, and stultify our most earnest efforts in the service of Christ.

I. By Unholy and Profitless Talk (see Eph 4:29, 31). Communications that are not "to the use of edifying," but which have a corrupting influence must be a grief to Him who is "Holy," and who has come to take the things which belong to the incorruptible Christ and show them to us. The Spirit of Truth can have no fellowship with frivolous talk and evil speaking.

II. By Ignoring His Presence. If our earthly friends dealt with us as we often deal with the Holy Spirit, we would be sorely offended. To live in the same house with one and be seldom recognised must be a great hardship. Mutual recognition is absolutely essential to the maintenance of real friendship. Don't grieve Him by the coldness of forgetfuness.

III. By Rejecting His Teaching. It was by rebelling against His leading that Israel "vexed His Holy Spirit" (Isa. 63:10). The Spirit is ever seeking to lead us into the truth as it is in Jesus, that we might be sanctified and made meet for His use. We grieve the Spirit, when through prejudice or unbelief, we refuse to accept His teaching, or to obey His leading. If we are not growing in grace, and in the knowledge of God, we may well suspect ourselves of disobedience to the Lord the Spirit. It must be a great grief to Him that His gracious work should in any way be hindered in us or through us, as Christ is dishonoured thereby, and His chief purpose is to glorify Him.

IV. By Conniving at Things which He Hates. The Holy Spirit is opposed to sin in every form. All worldliness and self-seeking are antagonistic to His nature and mission. If we found any of our personal friends winking secretly at things which they knew our souls abhorred, how deeply we would be grieved at such a discovery. Are we more sensitive than the Holy Spirit is? If we are ashamed to rebuke what He rebukes, and to exalt what He exalts, then we are not in the fellowship of the Spirit. Grieve not the Spirit by encouraging the ungodly in their sin. Remember Samson.

V. By Grieving the Children of God. Uncharitable thinking which leads to uncharitable speaking, must grieve Him who is the Spirit of love and of unity. Whatever tends to alienate the affections of God's people, one from another, is a striving against the workings of the Holy Ghost. "That they all may be one," was the prayer of Christ. "That they all may be one," is the purpose of the Spirit. To hinder this oneness is to grieve the Spirit by marring the unity of the Body, which He is so eager to maintain.

VI. By Serving the Lord in Our Own Strength. The Holy Spirit has come that we might have power to witness for Christ; to speak and labour in our own strength is a denial of His mission, and must be a great grief to His heart. How very sad it must be to the mighty Holy Spirit to see the servants of Christ, whom He has come to empower, substituting fleshly energy and worldly policy for His subduing, quickening presence. "When the Spirit is grieved by such self-assertiveness, the evidence of it is apparent in a formal, fruitless life. A grieved Spirit not only means a powerless testimony, but also a lack of the enjoyment of the love of God in the heart. If this love is to be shed abroad in our hearts, we need the communion of the Holy Spirit; this we cannot have if our manner of life and service is opposed to His mind and will. We may have our lamps, and we may have a measure of light, like the foolish virgins, but if we have not that reserve of oil which is to be found in the presence of an ungrieved Spirit, we will be ashamed before Him at His coming.

Related Article from James Smith:

The Holy Spirit is, emphatically, the gracious Spirit. All that he does for us, and all that he works within us — is of grace. His grace is his glory, and he glories in his grace. We may obtain his presence, and receive his blessing in answer to prayer — but we can never deserve either, nor can we by any works we perform merit them. He graciously . . .

  • quickens the dead,
  • instructs the ignorant,
  • liberates the captives,
  • restores the wanderers,
  • comforts the dejected,
  • strengthens the weak,
  • and sanctifies the impure. 

His work is his delight, and to see us holy and happy his pleasure!

Nothing grieves him like neglect, indifference, and going back to the beggarly elements of this present world. Such conduct wounds his loving heart, grieves his kind and tender nature; hence it was said of Israel: "They vexed and grieved his Holy Spirit." And the apostle exhorts us: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God."

Brethren, we need the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of grace--to make us gracious and graceful Christians. Without the Spirit of grace . . .

  •   we cannot live up to our profession; 
  •   we cannot copy the example of our beloved Master; 
  •   we cannot keep His commandments;
  •   we cannot love one another as He has loved us; 
  •   we cannot sympathize with lost sinners as we should; 
  •   we cannot keep God's glory in view in all that we do; 
  •   we cannot walk in high and holy fellowship with God;
  •   we cannot meet death with peace and joy! (Full Article)

Ephesians 4:30
C. H. Spurgeon.

Read Spurgeon's full sermon - "Grieve Not the Holy Spirit" on Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God,
whereby you are sealed to the day of redemption.

It is a very clear proof of the personality of the Holy Spirit that He can be grieved. Our text, moreover, reveals to us the close connection between the Holy Spirit and the believer; He must take a very tender and affectionate interest in us, since He is grieved by our shortcomings and our sins.

I. THE ASTOUNDING FACT that the Holy Spirit may be grieved.

1. The loving grief of the Holy Ghost may be traced to His holy character and perfect attributes. It is the nature of a holy being to be vexed with unholiness.

2. But it is mainly for our sakes that He is grieved.

3. Doubtless also for Jesus Christ's sake.

4. For the Church's sake.

II. Secondly, let us refer to DEPLORABLE CAUSES which produce the grief of the Holy Spirit. The context is some assistance to us.

1. We learn that sins of the flesh, filthiness, and evil speaking of every sort, are grievous to Him. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth." In Noah's day, the dove found no place for the sole of its foot on all the carcasses floating in the waste; and even so the heavenly Dove finds no repose in the dead and corrupt things of the flesh.

2. It appears, from the thirty-first verse, that the Holy Ghost is grieved by any approach to bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice.

3. I have no doubt it greatly grieves the Spirit to see in believers any degree of love of the world. His holy jealousy is excited by such unholy love. If a mother should see her child fender of someone else than of her; if she should know that it was more happy in the company of a stranger than when in the bosom of its own parent, she would feel it a very hard trial to bear. Now, the Spirit of God gives to us believers celestial joys and abounding comforts; and if He sees us turn our back upon all these, to go into worldly company, to feed greedily upon the same empty joys which satisfy worldlings, He is a jealous God, and He takes it as a great slight put upon Himself.

4. The Spirit of God is greatly grieved by unbelief. What would grieve you more, than to have your child suspect your truthfulness?

5. The Spirit is doubtless grieved by our ingratitude.

6. And by pride we sorely grieve the blessed Spirit.

7. Another thing which grieves the Spirit is a want of prayer.

8. The indulgence of any known sin.

III. THE LAMENTABLE RESULT of the Spirit's being grieved.

1. The loss of all sense of His presence.

2. Loss of Christian joy.

3. Loss of power.

4. Loss of assurance.

5. Loss of usefulness.Let a Church grieve the Spirit of God, and oh, the blights that shall come and wither her fair garden!

IV. Lastly, there is one PERSONAL ARGUMENT which is used in the text to forbid our grieving the Spirit — "Whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." What does this mean? There are many meanings assigned by different commentators: we shall be content with the following.

1. A seal is set upon a thing to attest its authenticity and authority.

2. Once more, a seal is used for preserving, as well as for attesting.The Eastern seals up his money bags to secure the gold within, and we seal our letters to guard the enclosure. A seal is set for security. Grieve not, then, that Spirit upon whom you are so dependent: He is your credentials as a Christian; He is your life as a believer.

In another message Spurgeon writes...

Anger begets anger; but grief begets pity, and pity is next akin to love; and we love those whom we have caused to grieve. Now, is not this a very sweet expression — "Grieve not the Holy Spirit"?

I. THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT. The love of the Spirit! — how shall I tell it forth? Surely it needs a songster to sing it, for love is only to be spoken of in words of song. The love of the Spirit.

1. Let me tell you of His early love to us. He loved us without beginning.

2. Was it not He who guided you to Jesus?

3. Since then, how sweetly has He proved His love. Not only in His first strivings, or after quickenings; but in the sequel, how much have we owed to His instruction.

4. Forget not, also, how much we owe to His consolation.

5. Remember how much He loves us, when He helps our infirmities.

6. Another token of His love, is His indwelling in the saints.

II. IT IS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT WE ARE SEALED. The Spirit Himself is expressed as the seal, even as He Himself is directly said to be the pledge of our inheritance. The sealing, I think, has a three-fold meaning.

1. It is a sealing of attestation or confirmation. No faith is genuine, which does not bear the seal of the Spirit. No love, no hope can ever save us, except it be sealed with the Spirit of God, for whatever has not His seal upon it is spurious. Faith that is unsealed may be a poison, it may be presumption; but faith that is sealed by the Spirit is true, real, genuine faith.

2. It is a sealing of appropriation. When men put their mark upon an article, it is to show that it is their own. The farmer brands his tools that they may not be stolen. The shepherd marks his sheep that they may be recognized as belonging to his flock. The king himself puts his broad arrow upon everything that is his property. So the Holy Spirit puts the broad arm of God upon the hearts of all His people.

3. Again, by sealing is meant preservation. Men seal up that which they wish to have preserved, and when a document is sealed it becomes valid henceforth. Now, it is by the Spirit of God that the Christian is sealed, kept, preserved, unto the day of redemption.

III. THE GRIEVING OF THE SPIRIT. How may we grieve Him — what will be the sad result of grieving Him — if we have grieved Him, how may we bring Him back again?

1. How may we grieve the Spirit? I am now, mark you, speaking of those who love the Lord Jesus Christ. Sin is as easy as it is wicked.

(1) You may grieve Him by impure thoughts. He cannot bear sin.

(2) We grieve Him yet more if we indulge in outward acts of sin. Then is He sometimes so grieved that He takes His flight for a season, for the Dove will not dwell in our hearts if we take loathsome carrion in there.

(3) Again, if we neglect prayer, if our closet door is cobwebbed, if we forget to read the Scriptures, if the leaves of our Bible are almost stuck together by neglect, if we never seek to do any good in the world, if we live merely for ourselves and not to Christ, then the Holy Spirit will be grieved.

(4) Again, the Holy Spirit is exceedingly grieved by our unbelief.

2. Now, suppose the Holy Spirit is grieved, what is the effect produced upon us?

(1) When the Spirit is grieved first, He bears with us. He is grieved again and again, and again and again, and still He bears with it all.

(2) But at last, His grief becomes so excessive, that He says, "I will suspend My operations; I will be gone; I will leave life behind Me, but My own actual presence I will take away." Our graces are much like the flower called the Hydrangia, when it has plenty of water it blooms, but as soon as moisture fails, the leaves drop down at once. And so when the Spirit goes away, faith shuts up its flowers; no perfume is exhaled. Then the fruit of our love begins to rot and drops from the tree; then the sweet buds of our hope become frostbitten, and they die. Oh, what a sad thing it is to lose the Spirit.

3. It is a mercy to know that the Spirit of God never leaves His people finally; He leaves them for chastisement, but not for damnation.

RELATED RESOURCES: See multiple sermons/articles by older expositors on grieving the Holy Spirit

ON GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
Ephesians 4:30
JOHN WESLEY 

Wesley Center Online - Sermon 138

Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption (Eph 4:30). 

There can be no point of greater importance to him who knows that it is the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth and into all holiness than to consider with what temper of soul we are to entertain His divine presence so as not either to drive Him from us or to disappoint Him of the gracious ends for which His abode with us is designed, which is not the amusement of our understanding, but the conversion and entire sanctification of our hearts and lives. 

These words of the apostle contain a most serious and affectionate exhortation to this purpose. “Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” 

The title “holy,” applied to the Spirit of God, does not only denote that He is holy in His own nature but that He makes us so. He is the great fountain of holiness to His church, the Spirit from whence flows all the grace and virtue by which the stains of guilt are cleansed and we are renewed in all holy dispositions and again bear the image of our Creator. Great reason, therefore, there was for the apostle to give this solemn charge concerning it, and the highest obligation lies upon us all to consider it with the deepest attention. That we may the more effectually do, I shall inquire: First, in what sense the Spirit of God is said to be grieved at the sins of men; second, by what kind of sin He is more especially grieved; and third, I shall endeavor to show the force of the apostle's argument against grieving the Holy Spirit—by whom we are sealed to the day of redemption. 

In What Sense Is the Spirit of God Grieved? 

In what sense may the Spirit of God be said to be grieved with the sins of men? There is not anything of what we properly call passion in God. But there is something of an infinitely higher kind: some motions of His will, which are more strong and vigorous than can be conceived by men, although they have not the nature of human passions, yet will answer the ends of them. By grief, therefore, we are to understand a disposition in God's will, flowing at once from His boundless love to the persons of men and His infinite abhorrence of their sins. And in this restrained sense it is here applied to the Spirit of God in the words of the apostle. 

And the reasons for which it is peculiarly applied to Him are, first, because He is more immediately present with us; second, because our sins are so many contempts of this highest expression of His love and disappoint the Holy Spirit in His last remedy; and, third, because, by this ungrateful dealing, we provoke Him to withdraw from us. 

We are said to grieve the Holy Spirit by our sins because of His immediate presence with us. They are more directly committed under His eye, and are, therefore, more highly offensive to Him. He is pleased to look upon professing Christians as more peculiarly separated to His honor. We are so closely united to Him that we are said to be one spirit with Him, and, therefore, every sin that we now commit, besides its own proper guilt, carries in it a fresh and infinitely high provocation. “Know ye not,” says Paul, “that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” (1 Co 6:19). And how are our bodies so, but by His inhabitation and intimate presence with our souls? When, therefore, we set up the idols of earthly inclinations in our hearts (which are properly His altar), and bow down ourselves to serve those vicious passions that we ought to sacrifice to His will—this must needs be, in the highest degree, offensive and grievous to Him. For what concord is there between the Holy Spirit and Belial? or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? (see 2 Co 6:15-16). 

We grieve the Holy Spirit by our sins because they are so many contempts of the highest expression of His love and disappoint Him in His last remedy whereby He is pleased to endeavor our recovery. And thus every sin we now commit is done in despite of all His powerful assistances, in defiance of His reproofs—an ungrateful return for infinite lovingkindness! 

As the Holy Spirit is the immediate minister of God's will upon earth and transacts all the great affairs of the church of Christ—if while He pours out the riches of His grace upon us, He finds them all unsuccessful, no wonder if He appeals to all the world, in the words of the prophet, against our ingratitude: “And now, O . . . men of Judah, judge . . . betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” (Isa 5:3-4). These, and many more such, which we meet with in the Holy Scriptures, are the highest expressions of the deepest concern such as imply the utmost unwillingness to deal severely even with those whom yet, by all the wise methods of His grace, He could not reform. The Holy Spirit here represents Himself as one who would be glad to spare sinners if He could, and therefore we may be sure it is grievous to Him that by their sins they will not suffer Him. 

For men thus to disappoint the Holy Spirit of Love—for that too is His peculiar title—to make Him thus wait that He may be gracious, and pay attendance on us through our whole course of folly and vanity, and stand by and be a witness of our stubbornness, with the importunate offers of infinite kindness in His hands—is a practice of such a nature that no gracious mind can bear the thoughts of it. It is an argument of God's unbounded mercy, which He is pleased to express, that He is only grieved at it, that His indignation does not flame out against those who are thus basely ungrateful and consume them in a moment. 

It was such ingratitude as this in the Jews, after numberless experiences of His extraordinary mercies toward them, that made infinite love, at last, turn in bitterness to reward them according to their doings, as we find the account given by the Prophets, in the most affecting and lively manner. And surely, considering the much greater obligations He has laid on us who enjoy the highest privileges, we may be sure that [the reward of] our sinful and untoward behavior will, at last, be as great as the mercies we have abused. 

There is no doubt but God observes all the sons of men, and His wrath abides on every worker of iniquity. But it is the unfaithful professor who has known His pardoning love that grieves His Holy Spirit, which implies a peculiar baseness in our sins. A man may be provoked, indeed, by the wrongs of his enemy, but he is properly grieved by the offenses of his friend. And, therefore, besides our other obligations, our very near relation to God, as being His friends and children, would, if we had a spark of gratitude in our souls, be a powerful restraint upon us in preserving us from evil. 

But if arguments of this kind are not strong enough to keep us from grieving our best Friend, the Holy Spirit of God, let us consider, that, by this ungrateful conduct, we shall provoke Him to withdraw from us. 

The truth of this almost all who have ever tasted of the good gifts of the Holy Spirit must have experienced. It is to be hoped that we have had, some time or other, so lively a sense of His holy influence upon us that when we have been so unhappy as to offend Him, we could easily perceive the change in our souls, in that darkness, distress, and despondency which more especially follow the commission of willful and presumptuous sins. At those seasons, the blessed Spirit retired and concealed His presence from us, we were justly left to a sense of our own wretchedness and misery, until we humbled ourselves before the Lord and by deep repentance and active faith obtained a return of divine mercy and peace. 
And the more frequently we offend Him, the more we weaken His influences in our souls. For frequent breaches will necessarily occasion estrangement between us; it is impossible that our intercourse with Him can be cordial when it is disturbed by repeated interruptions. So a man will forgive his friend a great many imprudences and some willful transgressions, but to find him frequently affronting him, all his kindness will wear off by degrees. The warmth of his affection, even toward him who had the greatest share of it, will die away, as he cannot but think that such a one does not any longer either desire or deserve to maintain a friendship with him. 

By What Kinds of Sin Is the Holy Spirit Grieved? 

By what kinds of sin is the Holy Spirit especially grieved? These sins are, in general, such as either at first wholly disappoint His grace of its due effect upon our souls or are afterward directly contrary to His gracious and merciful assistances. Of the former sort, I shall only mention, at present, inconsiderateness; of the latter, sins of presumption. 

The first I shall mention, as being more especially grievous to the Holy Spirit, is inconsiderateness and inadvertence to His holy motions within us. There is a particular frame and temper of soul, a sobriety of mind, without which the Spirit of God will not concur in the purifying of our hearts. It is in our power, through His preventing and assisting grace, to prepare this in ourselves, and He expects we should, this being the foundation of all His after-works. Now, this consists in preserving our minds in a cool and serious disposition, in regulating and calming our affections, and calling in and checking the inordinate pursuits of our passions after the vanities and pleasures of this world. The doing of this is of such importance that the very reason why men profit so little under the most powerful means is that they do not look enough within themselves—they do not observe and watch the discords and imperfections of their own spirits, nor attend with care to the directions and remedies that the Holy Spirit is always ready to suggest. Men are generally lost in the hurry of life, in the business or pleasures of it, and seem to think that their regeneration, their new nature, will spring and grow up within them with as little care and thought of their own as their bodies were conceived and have attained their full strength and stature. Whereas, there is nothing more certain than that the Holy Spirit will not purify our natures unless we carefully attend to His motions, which are lost upon us while, in the prophet's language, we “scatter away our time”—while we squander away our thoughts upon unnecessary things and leave our spiritual improvement, the one thing needful, quite unthought of and neglected. 

There are many persons who, in the main of their lives, are regular in their conversation and observe the means of improvement and attend upon the holy sacrament with exactness, who yet, in the intervals of their duties, give too great liberty to their thoughts, affections, and discourse. They seem to adjourn the great business of salvation to the next hour of devotion. If these professors lose so much in their spiritual estate for want of adjusting and balancing their accounts, what then must we think of those who scarce ever bestow a serious thought upon their eternal welfare? Surely there is not any temper of mind less a friend to the spirit of religion than a thoughtless and inconsiderate one that, by a natural succession of strong and vain affections, shuts out everything useful from their souls, until, at length, they are overtaken by a fatal lethargy. They lose sight of all danger and become insensible of divine convictions, and, in consequence, quite disappoint all the blessed means of restoration. If, therefore, we measure the Holy Spirit's concern at the sins of men by the degrees of His disappointment, we may conclude that there is no state of mind that grieves Him more, unless that of actual wickedness. 

Presumptuous sins are, indeed, in the highest manner offensive to the Holy Spirit of God. They are instances of open enmity against Him and have all the guilt of open rebellion. The willful sinner is not ignorant or surprised, but knowingly fights against God's express commandment and the lively, full, and present conviction of his own mind and conscience, so that this is the very standard of iniquity. And all other kinds of sins are more or less heinous, as they are nearer or farther off from sins of this dreadful nature, inasmuch as these imply the greatest opposition to God's will, contempt of His mercy, and defiance of His justice. This, if anything can, doubtless must so grieve Him as to make Him wholly withdraw His gracious presence. 

The Force of the Apostle's Argument Against Grieving the Holy Spirit 

I come now to show the force of the apostle's argument against grieving the Holy Spirit: Because we “are sealed unto the day of redemption.” 
By “the day of redemption” may be meant either the time of our leaving these bodies at death or of our taking them again at the general resurrection, though here it probably means the latter, in which sense the apostle uses the word in another place: “Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies” (Ro 8:23). And to this day of redemption we are sealed by the Holy Spirit these three ways: 

  1. by receiving His real stamp upon our souls, being made the partakers of the divine nature; 
  2. by receiving Him as a mark of God's property, as a sign that we belong to Christ; 
  3. as an earnest and assurance to our own spirits that we have a title to eternal happiness. 

First, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of God by our receiving His real stamp upon our souls, being made the partakers of the divine nature and “meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” This is, indeed, the design of His dwelling in us: to heal our disordered souls and to restore that image of His upon our nature, which is so defaced by our original and actual corruptions. And until our spirits are, in some measure, thus renewed, we can have no communion with Him. For “if we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 Jn 1:6). But by the renewal of our minds in the image of Him that created us, we are still more capable of His influences. By means of a daily intercourse with Him, we are more and more transformed into His likeness, until we are satisfied with it. 

This likeness to God, this conformity of our will and affections to His will, is, properly speaking, holiness; to produce this in us is the proper end and design of all the influences of the Holy Spirit. By means of His presence with us, we receive from Him a great fullness of holy virtues; we take such features of resemblance in our spirits as correspond to His original perfections. And thus we are sealed by Him, in the first sense, by way of preparation for our day of redemption. 

And since we are so, and our new natures thus grow up under the same power of His hands, what do we, when we grieve Him by our sins, but undo and destroy His work? We frustrate His designs by breaking down the fences that He had been trying to raise against the overflowings of corruption, so that, at last, we entirely defeat all His gracious measures for our salvation. 

We are sealed by the Holy Spirit to the day of redemption as a sign of God's property in us and as a mark that we belong to Christ. And this is, by His appointment, the condition and security of that future happiness, into which He will admit none but those who have received the Spirit of His Son into their hearts. But in whomsoever He finds this mark and character, when He shall come to judge the world, these will He take to Himself and will not suffer the destroyer to hurt them. To this very purpose the prophet Malachi, speaking of those who feared God, says, “They shall be mine, saith the Lord, . . . in that day when I make up my jewels” (Mal 3:17)—that is to say, when I set my seal and mark upon them—“and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” 

Now, if the Holy Spirit be the sign, the seal, and the security of our salvation, then, by grieving Him by our sins, we break up this seal with our own hands, we cancel our firmest security, and, as much as in us lies, reverse our own title to eternal life. 

Besides this, the Holy Spirit within us is the security of our salvation; He is likewise an earnest of it, and assures our spirits that we have a title to eternal happiness. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Ro 8:16). And in order that this inward testimony may be lively and permanent, it is absolutely necessary to attend carefully to the secret operation of the Holy Spirit within us, who, by infusing His holy consolations into our souls, by enlivening our drooping spirits, and by giving us a quick relish of His promises, raises bright and joyous sensations in us and gives a man, beforehand, a taste of the bliss to which he is going. In this sense God is said, by the apostle to the Corinthians, to have “sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts,” and that earnest, not only by way of confirmation of our title to happiness, but as an actual part of that reward at present, the fullness of which we expect hereafter.

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