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by Dr. Lee Roberson

Ephesians 4:30—And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The New Testament speaks of three sins against the Holy Spirit.

First, resisting the Spirit. 

Acts 7:51 says, Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Man, as a sinner, can resist the Spirit. Stephen indicates that this was the sin of Israel. They were guilty of fighting against God.

Second, the Holy Spirit can be grieved.

Our text gives us this fact. The child of God can grieve the Spirit. There are things which a regenerated person can do which are displeasing to the Holy Guest.

Third, some quench the Spirit.

I Thessalonians 5:19 says, Quench not the Spirit. This sin against the Holy Spirit may be committed by a person who works against the one great source of power. John Wilbur Chapman said that this sin “may refer especially to the life of the Holy Spirit in the church, so that we may quench Him by ignoring Him in the government of the church. If we would have a blessing sweeping over our land from sea to sea, from north to south, I believe that we must begin by conforming the life of our churches to the teachings of the Holy Spirit.”

In this message we are considering the grief that can be brought to the Holy Spirit. Christians may grieve the Holy Spirit, but they do not lose the Holy Spirit, nor His seal. He is not driven away, though He is grieved. Paul teaches this fact very plainly in our text when he says, …grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. It is the sealed ones who have it in their power to cause the Holy Spirit grief.

To grieve the Holy Spirit is to cause great sorrow to the Spirit; yet this word grief is deeper than sorrow. This grief springs from a deep relationship of love. Because the Holy Spirit loves us so much, He is sensitive to any wrong in our lives which is against Him.

In order that we may see the entire matter may we consider four aspects of the question.

I. Consider what the Holy Spirit wants to do.

The believer is one who has been regenerated by the Spirit and is indwelt by the Spirit. Now, as He indwells us, He wants to do certain things for us, in us, and through us:

1. He wants to fill us.

Paul says, …be filled with the Spirit; (Ephesians 5:18) When we are filled, He has complete control of our lives. Every Christian should obey this command to be filled with the Spirit.

2. He wants to lead us.

We who are saved are to walk after the Spirit. Similar to Romans 8:1, again we read in Romans 8:14, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Galatians 5:18 says, But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. It is the leadership of the Spirit which we should have in our lives. We are not to rush ahead of Him, nor to lag behind; but we are to follow His leadership. This is something the Holy Spirit wants to do for us.

3. He wants to bring fresh fruit forth in our lives.

There is the fruit of the Spirit which the Christian should bear. Galatians 5:22-23 gives us this list: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance:… The fruit of the Spirit is love, and out of love springs all of the succeeding graces. Dr. Lockyer says, “Joy is love exulting. Peace is love reposing. Longsuffering is love enduring. Gentleness is love and refinement. Meekness is love with bowed head. Goodness is love in action. Temperance is love obeying. Faith is love confiding.” Let us remember that the Holy Spirit who indwells us wants to make of us the very best for the glory of God. He wants us to be in the likeness of Christ, and He wants us to be clean vessels so that His power can flow through to others.

II. Consider how we can grieve the Holy Spirit.

There is much to be said on this point, but we will try to put it in a few simple statements.

1. We can grieve the Holy Spirit by disregarding His presence.

At our conversion the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. We all know quite well that there are many professing Christians who have never recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said in John 14:16, And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter,… He is Christ’s gift to us. How tragic that many do not notice the gift of our Saviour. If I brought my boy or a girl a gift, costly and precious, and they took no notice of it, I would certainly be grieved. The Holy Spirit is grieved when men disregard His presence.

2. He is grieved when we deny Him for possession of our lives.

He is to fill us and to control us. We are to surrender daily to Him. Whenever we deny Him full possession of our hearts and lives, He is grieved.

3. He is grieved when we disobey His commands.

The Holy Spirit is always prompting us. We are wise if we obey His voice. He is grieved if we do not obey Him.

He is certainly grieved when we disobey the express commands of the Word of God. This Bible is inspired by the Spirit. It contains the mind of God. It has the directions for every phase of life. If we turn away from it, the Spirit will then be grieved and pained.

4. He is grieved when we do the things He hates.

The Word says that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Whenever we bring into our bodies anything displeasing to Him, He is grieved. Whenever we go into forbidden paths, He is grieved.

Our hearts are to be clean, or the Spirit will be grieved. The smallest uncleanness can offend Him. Worldly pleasures offend His holy nature.

Wrong treatment of others will grieve the Holy Spirit. It is worthwhile to consider the words which follow our text, Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32) Meditate upon those words carefully—bitterness and wrath and anger go together. They are in opposition to the Spirit Who is loving, kind, and gentle. The word clamour indicates strife and controversy, which are not pleasing to the Spirit. It speaks of the person who is shouting for his own rights and for his own way.

Evil speaking is a sin which grieves Him, for it covers slander against others. The sins of the lips certainly pain the Holy Spirit. In John Wesley’s journal from May 31, 1738, he wrote, “Yet on Wednesday did I grieve the Spirit of God, not only by not watching unto prayer, but likewise by speaking with sharpness instead of tender love to one that was not sound in the faith. Immediately God hid His face and I was troubled.”

Paul says to put away all of the things …with all malice: Malice, hatred, and spite must be put away if we are to please the Spirit. Not only so, but we are to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us.

We can easily see that the Holy Spirit is a loving friend Who can be greatly hurt. His grief can be deep because His love is deep. As Jesus sobbed in the garden of Gethsemane, so can the Spirit be grieved by the conduct of those He has sealed.

III. Consider what grieving the Spirit does to us.

Let me repeat that grieving the Spirit does not mean that we lose Him from our lives. We are sealed by Him. He cannot be driven away; however, when He is grieved, certain things will happen in our lives.

1. Our joy will be lessened.

As Christians, we are to rejoice in the Lord. There can be no great, abounding joy when the Holy One is grieved.

2. When He is grieved, our prayer lives will be hindered.

If we are to pray effectively, we must pray in the Spirit. He is the One Who helps us to pray, as we read in Romans 8:26, which says, Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. It follows also that the things which grieve the Spirit of God also hinder prayer in that our iniquities separate us from a definite answer.

3. When He is grieved, our fellowship with God will not be as precious as it should be.

There is a certain place where we can feel the presence of God. We can pray with ease and know that He is hearing. We are conscious of His nearness. However, when the Spirit is grieved, this fellowship with the Father will not be as precious.

4. When He is grieved, the fullness of peace will not be ours.

Full surrender and submission to the Spirit will bring peace. Lack of surrender grieves Him and takes away peace. Almost all Christians are searching for the same thing—for satisfying peace in their hearts. This can only be so as we are filled with the Spirit and controlled by Him. If this be not true, then He will be grieved. Our consciences will be disturbed, and peace will be missing.

5. When the Spirit is grieved, we will not have spiritual power.

Psalm 62:11 tells us, …power belongeth unto God. The Spirit is the One Who imparts to the believer the power that belongs to the Father. It is the work of the Spirit to take what belongs to God and to make it ours. As we give Him right of way in our lives, He infills us and gives us power for service. The Spirit will not withhold anything from us if we will surrender all to Him. However, when He is grieved, our spiritual power is lessened.

May we search our hearts. Have we been grieving the Spirit? Have we disregarded His presence, denied Him full possession of our lives, disobeyed His commands, or done the things He hates?

Have we grieved Him by lack of surrender? Have we polluted our hearts with impure thoughts?

If you have grieved Him, there must be a turning away from those things which are displeasing to Him. There must be an acceptance of His leadership, willingness to walk with Him, and desire to bear the fruit of the Spirit.

Separate yourselves from that which is wrong, and surrender yourselves to that which is holy. This will be pleasing to Him and will bring peace, joy, and power to you.

Called to preach at age 18, Dr. Lee Roberson went on to pastor four churches, the most renowned being Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After retiring from the pastorate in 1983, he continued to preach all over the country and even the world, preaching for a total of 79 years. He started the Tennessee Temple University to train preachers and full-time Christian workers for the ministry. Along with authoring 45 books and numerous booklets, he also had a hand in starting two mission boards and sending missionaries all over the world. He also started a camp called Camp Joy and the Union Gospel Mission in Georgia. Dr. Roberson went to home to Heaven in 2007 at 97 years old.

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