I think it is really important for us to better understand the person of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people think of the Holy Spirit as more of an “It” than a “Him.” But according to Scripture, the Holy Spirit is not only God, but He has a will, a personality, and can even be offended!
There are six specific sins that can be committed against the Holy Spirit. Today, allow me to focus on one that can be committed by believers—grieving the Holy Spirit.
One of the places in Scripture where we read about grieving the Holy Spirit is in Ephesians 4:29–32. The apostle Paul writes:
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not grieve God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live…Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
To grieve means to make sad or sorrowful. It means to cause sorrow, pain, or distress.
But what makes the Holy Spirit sad or sorrowful?
1. Foul and abusive language makes the Holy Spirit sad.
Verse 29 says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language.” The word used here speaks of something that has gone “rotten.” This includes obscene language, profanity, dirty stories, vulgarity, double entendres, etc.
When did it become “cool” for preachers to speak this way from a pulpit? Some people would say this is being “real” or “authentic.”
Guess what? You are not to speak this way—privately or publicly. How about being authentically godly instead?
2. Bitterness makes the Holy Spirit sad and sorrowful.
The definition of bitterness is “an embittered and resentful spirit that refuses to be reconciled.”
Some people just like to be mad. They live for conflict, arguing, and fighting. This, as with all sin, only gets worse if left unchecked and unrepented of.
The sad thing is that bitter people rarely want to keep it to themselves. Instead, they spread it around. The Bible speaks of “a root of bitterness defiling many” (see Hebrews 12:15).
I have a better idea: forgive!
3. Fits of rage and uncontrolled anger make the Holy Spirit sad and sorrowful.
“Rage” speaks of the person who is easily angered and who raises his voice—shouting and screaming. “Slander” is speaking evil of others behind their backs. “Malicious behavior” speaks of ill will and plotting evil against someone.
Look, all of us have been hurt in life, but we have a choice as to how we react. We can be like the moneylender Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, demanding our “pound of flesh.” We can say, “They did this to me; therefore I will have my vengeance!”
Or we can believe God when He says “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”
It is said that Augustine had a sign on his wall that read, “He who speaks evil of an absent man or woman is not welcome at this table.”
Try the acronym T.H.I.N.K. the next time you are not sure whether or not you should say something.
Instead of speaking evil of someone, we are to “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.”
“But they don’t deserve that!”
True, but neither do you or I—yet God still forgave us.
Paul concludes Ephesians 4:32 by saying, “…just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Forgiven people should be forgiving people. Otherwise, we are grieving the Spirit.