Grieve Not The Spirit
By Leslie S. Rainey
Nothing helps us to think of the Holy Spirit more as a Person than the fact that He can be grieved. The Scriptures bear testimony that He is God, and therefore holy. Christians are called upon to live in the realization of His indwelling presence as the temples of the living God.
The Spirit of God is not easily grieved. Love never is, for "love suffereth long and is kind" (1 Cor. 13:4), and God is slow to anger and of great mercy. Love is not easily offended, and can have compassion, as Jesus, our Great High Priest does, upon the ignorant and them that are out of the way. "He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust" (Psa. 103:14).
Let us not think, then, of the Holy Spirit, our holy and blessed Paraclete, as a man uncertain and capricious, with changing feelings and moods. How often we limit His power and the resources at our disposal because we have such inferior thoughts of the Third Person of the Trinity. The revelation of the Personality of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful truth and to be laid hold upon by the Christian who would be an effective instrument in the hands of God.
Sin is the root cause for the grief of the Spirit. Sin destroys spirituality. Look at the things enumerated in Ephesians 4:24-32. What a catalogue of sins that lie side by side with this exhortation, "Grieve not the Spirit." To retain these sins in the life is certainly to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
Another way whereby the Holy Spirit is grieved is to continue in practices that are contrary to the revealed will of God. Of course ignorance is excusable in the young and immature, but becomes a guilty thing when "willful ignorance" (2 Pet. 3:5), or the result of failure to listen to the repeated exercise and convictions of the Holy Spirit.
This is seen in the life of the average Pharisee. They were hypocrites, not because they were not earnest and zealous, but because they blinded their eyes to truths they might and should have known.
If such a course is persisted in, it grieves the Spirit. The practice of things contrary to the Word of God is easily seen to be so, if proper diligence is given to inquire. To continue in associations that dishonor the name of Christ and rob God of His place in the life – is clearly out of line with the Word of God.
The allowance of the unequal yoke in business, social, or church life is to do despite to the Spirit of God. The refusal to come out and be separate, is to hinder the working of God’s Spirit in the development of the life in Christ (2 Cor. 6:14-18). The shirking and avoidance of the cross, that is, the reproach attaching to the open confession of the name of Christ, and obedience to Him, accounts for a prayerless and powerless Christian testimony.
One of the most common of all causes in the grieving of the Holy Spirit is the fact of NEGLECT. Such a course is all too real in most Christian lives. The Word of God is seldom read. Often it is read carelessly and not in the spirit of prayer and meditation. This results in the grieving of the Spirit.
Prayer is hurried and unreal, the means of grace are neglected, the assembling together is irregular and infrequent, avenues of Christian service are treated with indifference and doors of opportunity are never entered.
Neglect is not only personified in all walks of life – but carries a penalty. How well this is brought out in Hebrews 2:1-4: "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?"
Sin, therefore, in a Christian is the very opposite of any true manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the life. The question is raised then, how do we perceive it? How do we perceive the Spirit of God is grieved in the life?
(1) By the loss of peace. The gift of God’s peace is one of life’s most wonderful treasures and tokens of the grace of God. When the Spirit is grieved, the soul is like the troubled sea that cannot rest. Irritation takes the place of calm again. When He is grieved, He ceases to make the storm a calm.
(2) By the loss of power. How deeply this is felt in the life of the Christian again and again. Why is it that like Samson we may stretch ourselves as at other times, but the power is gone? The answer is that the Spirit is grieved.
As Samson "wist not" (Judg. 16:20), so one may go on with outward activities and with apparent success, but if the gracious Spirit is grieved within us, all real fruit fails.
(3) By the loss of joy. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is not a mere natural product, nor does it depend on the happenings of life. The office of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the unseen realities of the Word of God to faith, and thus our joy is the joy of faith (Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 15:13).
As Moses, we endure "as seeing Him who is invisible" (Heb. 11:27). The joy of the new life in Christ is hindered when the Spirit of God is grieved, and no longer do we realize the blessedness of basking in the sunshine of His love. Such a state of soul leads to coldness to the response of Divine love, and a reluctance to speak to men for whom Christ died.
The worker is out of touch with God, and neither loves souls, nor has zeal for their salvation, as was evident at other more blessed times.
(4) By the loss of assurance, for the Scriptures will not avail without that inner witness of the Holy Spirit with our spirits, which is both so precious and so mysterious. (Rom. 8:13-17; 1 John 5:9-13). Sad examples of the loss of assurance are all around us.
(5) Even by the loss of health. It was so with the saints at Corinth, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep" (1 Cor. 11:30). There is no vigor of health and strength to labor like that of the ungrieved Spirit. But when He is grieved this support is gone, and failure results, both spiritual and physical (Rom. 8:11).
How Shall We Recover from This State?
These losses need not be so; for the Spirit is not grieved hastily nor for unknown and undiscoverable reasons. He will convict and warn many times ere He smites the heart in His wrath. Through prayer and humble self-examination before God, the reason why the Spirit is grieved may be clearly known. The prayer, "Search me, O God...and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psa. 139:23-24), will bring a speedy answer.
There must be confession of sin accompanied by self-judgment and repentance (2 Cor. 2:4-11), that things may at once be put right and that we may be clear in the matter. Confession of sin issues in restoration to the place of communion and fellowship. How wonderful the provision God has made for the pilgrim path of His redeemed!
If the Christian would avoid such a state, there must be straight paths and regular habits adopted for the future, that the evil may not recur. So shall the Spirit of the Lord be ungrieved and His joy, peace, enlightenment, liberty, and power be our habitual and happy portion. Such an experience will result in the possession of peace within and power without (Acts 1:8).