Has anyone ever done something that bothered you? Have you ever had someone close to you do something that was just unexpected? There have been a few times in my life where the actions of a close friend have caused frustration and pain. In those moments, the pain even seems to be compounded because it was from someone whom I trusted. The sense of betrayal seemed to make things even more painful.
After explaining what the Christian life should look like, Paul gives another admonition to the believers in Ephesus - “Grieve not the Holy Spirit.” It is not that the Holy Spirit cries like we do. We know from Scripture that Jesus wept after Lazarus died, but that is because Jesus was flesh and blood like you and I. Understanding that the Holy Spirit is not like you or me, we understand that His being grieved does not mean that He is sitting somewhere crushed and crying his eyes out at the betrayal. Rather, Paul is using a human idea to help us understand the gravity of our disobedience to God.
When we are angry and vengeful instead of loving and forgiving, when we are stealing instead of giving, when we are saying horrible things instead of speaking helpful words, at these times, we are grieving the Holy Spirit. It is something that He is desirous that we shouldn’t do. He is ministering to us the word of God that we might not disobey, but then we ignore His ministry and go on sinning. This betrayal of the Spirit is inexcusable. He is God in us, and for us to deny His work is to deny God.
This is why Paul calls the Spirit the “Spirit of God.” This is a direct reference to the Deity of the Holy Spirit. He is not a creation of God. He is not separate from God. He is the very Spirit of God. He is divine just as Jesus and God are divine. Therefore, disobedience to the Spirit’s Word-based guidance is disobedience to God himself.
It is interesting that Paul uses “holy” in reference to the Spirit here. It is not Paul’s normal reference to the Spirit, whom he often just refers to as “the Spirit.” In Ephesians 1:13, it is the “Holy” Spirit that we are sealed with at conversion and that begins to work his holy and righteous work in us from that point forward. It is this same “Holy” Spirit here in Ephesians 4 that we are to obey and not grieve as He seeks to guide us daily into holy and right living.
When Paul mentions the Holy Spirit again, he reminds us of the last time he called him the Holy Spirit as he says, “whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Here Paul is speaking of the plural effects of the work of the Holy Spirit in us. One effect is that we will be given the power to obey God and strive for holiness. Another effect is that we will see that holy work being accomplished in our lives and we will be assured that we have been converted. The Spirit working His holiness in and through us gives us assurance that we will make it to the day of redemption. We cannot fall away once He has begun His good work in us.
Do you grieve the Holy Spirit? Do you live a life that says “I don’t care what God says, I want to do my own thing”? Does it bother you that you bother the Spirit of God Himself? Perhaps when we see Him as truly Holy and as fully God then we will respond more readily to His promptings from Scripture. And if you are indifferent to the holy work of the Holy Spirit, you can begin to question whether or not you are truly one who is “sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Reflect: Read Jeremiah 14:17. In this text, God is telling Israel that He is crying. Can God cry? Explain your answer.