The Expository Files

“And Do not Grieve the Holy Spirit of God”

Ephesians 4:30

One mark of general maturity is, not wanting to cause grief for anyone. Children discover it is not good to upset their parents. Married couples – if their attitudes are good – avoid disturbing their partner. Employees do not want to make the boss mad.

How much deeper should the Christians’ desire be, to not grieve the Holy Spirit of God! Through the perfect work of the Holy Spirit of God, God’s gracious plan of salvation in Christ has been revealed (see Eph. 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:12). To have the written revelation of God (the Bible) is to know what offends God and grieves the Holy Spirit. Attending to that revelation wholeheartedly and with consistent obedience and growth, we please deity. Otherwise, we “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” Based on Eph. 4:25-32, concentrate on these sources of grief, each with a motivational phrase appended:

LYING: “…putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another,” (Eph. 4:25). God’s moral law everywhere and for every people from the beginning has required honesty, telling the truth. Lying is not an acceptable method and resource, nor is there ever an excuse for it. With every lie, the Holy Spirit is grieved. Motivation: “…we are members of one another.”

SINFUL ANGER: “‘Be angry, and do not sin;’ do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Here the Holy Spirit teaches God’s will regarding the restraint of anger. There is no absolute prohibition of all anger. But a clear call for restraint and hasty resolution. Quoting from Psalm 4:4, which when rendered literally says, “Be angry and do not sin,” the control, restraint factor is our obligation. The text assumes or presupposes the possibility of this emotion, but calls upon the child of God to deal with it without sin and with haste. Otherwise, we grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Motivation – negative warning: “…giving place to the devil.”

THEFT: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” Stealing not only defrauds the victim, it not only puts the thief at risk, it grieves the Holy Spirit, who reveals God’s will: Work, Don’t Steal. God has revealed by the Holy Spirit how we ought to support ourselves and our families. When we depart from those legitimate means of gain to pilfer, extort or embezzle, we are guilty of grieving the Holy Spirit. Let us work with our hands what is good (1 Thess. 4:11), and provide for all things in honorable ways (2 Cor. 8:21). Motivation: “…to give him who has need.”

CORRUPT SPEECH: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” That which is crude, foul, impure and inappropriate should be disciplined out of our heads, and therefore, never reach the tongue. Only the Word of God has the power to bring this discipline to pass. Speech that tears down and is absent grace; that doesn’t edify or help – let it not be thought or said, lest you grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Motivation: “…necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

BITTERNESS: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” This text warns against seething inner thoughts that, left unattended, find their way into speech and treatment of people – grieving the Holy Spirit. Instead, “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Replace hostility with helpfulness; give up bad speech for good; work, don’t steal; be angry without sinning, and always tell the truth. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God! Motivation: “…God in Christ forgave you!”

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 19.7; July 2012