How Can Someone Grieve the Holy Spirit?

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How Can Someone Grieve the Holy Spirit?

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MP3 Audio (12.07 MB)


How Can Someone Grieve the Holy Spirit?

MP3 Audio (12.07 MB)

Ephesians 4:30 warns “do not grieve the Holy Spirit,” and is a warning directed to those who have believed, been baptized and received the Holy Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit within a person is the presence of the living Christ within that person. So to grieve the Holy Spirit is to cause sorrow, distress and emotional pain to Christ Himself. Through His presence in us, Christ is witness to our every word, thought and act. Some have the potential to grieve Him.

Does a divine being really feel grief?

God is all-powerful and immutable, yet He reveals Himself as feeling and expressing emotion. For example, in Genesis 6:5-8 God expresses regret and grief because of the evil actions and thoughts of mankind. Jesus also told us that His life in the flesh showed what the Father was like, and Jesus felt emotions: indignation, wrath, sorrow, affection, joy.

What specifically causes God grief?

God can be grieved by what we do, what we think and what goes on in our hearts. The verses surrounding Ephesians 4:30 offer insight into matters of the heart, mind and actions that might grieve the Holy Spirit. Let's take a look!

The words we speak

Ephesians 4:29 asks us to consider the words we speak. We are advised to stick to talk that builds up, helps and benefits others, bringing joy, pleasure [grace]. We should assume that corrupt communication is talk that tears people down, hurts them and is contrary to their best interests.

Scripture is filled from beginning to end with warnings about our speech. Perhaps because words provide the most tangible window into the heart.

Examples of corrupt communication

Ephesians 4:31 provides us with specific examples of corrupt communication or rotten talk:

Bitterness, meaning "pointed, sharp, cutting." When used literally it means a harsh, unpleasant taste or smell. But Scripture uses it to describe spiritual matters as well.

Anger, which is broken down into two types: 

1. Passionate wrath, (thumos in Greek) meaning sudden outbursts of indignation.
2. Slow burning anger, (orge in Greek) meaning calculated and lasting animosity; plotting revenge, for example.

Fighting, literally “crying out” in loud voice. For example, in controversy or arguing.

Slander, saying false, hurtful things about a person’s reputation or character.

Words can make known the hidden things of the heart. You might not realize what's lurking within yourself unless you make the effort to listen to yourself. Watching your words is a tool God gives you to begin to look into your heart and detect attitudes that grieve Him. Then you should work to eliminate them.

Digging deeper

Examining our words is a useful tool to look into the heart, but just saying the right things is not the end goal. It is possible for you to say only smooth and pleasing things to others, to be polite, never show your anger but still plot against someone, or seek ways to take advantage of them.

Here are some examples that are given in Ephesians 4:

God does not like deception. A person who says the right thing but does wrong is not pleasing to their Creator. A person whose words are smooth and agreeable but lead others into dead-end philosophies that call what’s wrong right and what right wrong are not pleasing to God. Both grieve Him (Ephesians 4:25).

God does not like unresolved disputes, holding grudges or maintaining feuds. You may be able to choke down the angry words you really want to say, but to please God rather than to grieve Him, go to the next level and forgive, seek reconciliation, make peace (Ephesians 4:26).

That’s how we deal with the slow-burning kind of anger that can draw us into further sin and the rash impulsive kind which if not resolved quickly can turn into the more dangerous slow-burning kind.

Unresolved grudges and feuds grieve the Holy Spirit of God within you. His constant exhortation is to forgive one another, as Christ has forgiven you, reconciled you with God and made peace.

God does not like greed or laziness. Paul is writing to a church congregation. It’s unlikely they were swiping one another's wallets during services or pocketing silverware when visiting one another. Paul is more likely shining light on people who are always taking from others and exhorting them to work so they too can become givers rather than takers (Ephesians 4:28).

We tend to think of greed as a sin of the rich. But isn’t someone who wants the fruits of another person’s labor without being willing to work greedy as well?

God’s Word teaches generosity and helping others in time of need. But God’s purpose is not to enable people who refuse to work. God’s purpose is that we help others get back on their own two feet. God’s blessings often come in a form that provides the opportunity to earn your own way.

The mind of God is active, involved and radiates out good things for others to enjoy. He wants you to be like Him in that way! Laziness and greed grieve the Holy Spirit of God within you.

Hardened hearts

Ephesians 4:17-19 discusses willful disregard for the values of God and should be read together with Romans 1:18-32. Even though the values of God are self-evident in the very creation we are all a part of, most of humanity willfully choose to reject what can be known about God and go their own way.

In both these sections of Scripture, the result is gross sexual immorality. Not just a momentary lapse or slip-up but the product of a hardened heart hardened through repetition and deceitful human reasoning until it becomes convinced that bad behavior is actually good behavior.

Sexual relationships outside of marriage, abortion, divorce, sexual abuse: these grieve the Holy Spirit of God within you.

Why does God grieve?

I have a son and two daughters. I have a natural desire to see my children accomplish certain goals: establish a line of work they can do well in, start their own families, even that they aspire to the resurrection of the firstfruits at Christ’s return.

If I see them making bad choices, heading down the wrong path, I am grieved.

God looks upon you the same way. He’s grieved when He sees any of His beautiful children heading down a path that leads away from eternal life and away from the everlasting joy He wants to share with them.