What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit? Answered by Jon Moffitt
Hi, this is Jon, and today on ask Theocast, I’m answering Andrew’s question, which he asked, “What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?”
This is a great question. It’s often used to guilt people, to cause them to have fear if they don’t obey enough or if they don’t pursue godliness enough, and then their salvation sometimes is called into question.
I don’t think that’s the intention that Paul had when he wrote this. If you look at the book of Ephesians, the whole first three chapters are about the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, explaining how God saves sinners, that he chose them before the foundation of the world, and that their salvation is not by works lest any man should boast. It’s a beautiful explanation of the hope that we have outside of ourselves in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Then in chapter four, he turns towards the church. He says, now, if this be true of you, then you need to respond in a worthy manner. He is not focused on individual obedience or the individual Christian – really at all.
He focuses in on the function of the church, and explains that the Spirit comes and he gifts those with teaching, and preaching, and prophecy. He gifts those with the ability to give, and show charity, and kindness, and love, and then he says when the church functions properly, it builds itself up in love.
So, that’s the context of chapters one through four. The focus is on our assurance in Jesus Christ by faith alone, and then our response to that is growth in this faith. We are strengthened in this faith when we participate in the body. So then he talks about what can cause that unity. He says that we are unified. We become one because of the Spirit that lives within us.
Let me just read to you from chapter four. A few of verses before he says don’t grieve the Spirit, in verse 25, it says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” The Spirit, that lives within all of us, binds us together. It makes us one together. That’s the context. Then, if you look at verse 30, when he says, “and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God”, you know he’s already told us in context that the Spirit of God is that which lives within all of us, who binds us together, by whom we were sealed for the day of redemption.
So, what can cause the grieving of the Spirit or cause division within the body? He says this, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from among you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” So what he’s actually going after is anything that could potentially cause friction within the body of Christ and prevent us from staying unified around the gospel that strengthens us and can go out to those who are lost. Paul is not trying to create fear or worry or saying that you better do right or God’s coming after you. Paul is concerned that believers will not understand the priority and the purpose around staying unified in the gospel. Go back and look at the beginning of chapter four. It says to make every effort to remain in unity, the bond of peace, and that peace comes to us through our unity of the Spirit in Jesus Christ.
Hopefully that was encouraging for you. Please ask us more questions on our website, share this with anyone that might find this encouraging, and we’ll see you next week.