THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY (21)
The Holy Spirit
Grieving the Holy Ghost
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God…” Ephesians 4:30
The Holy Spirit is represented as a person who is characterised with human emotions in His relationship with the people of God. As God, He does not have feelings as we have; yet this act of grieving is ascribed to Him in order that we might appreciate the consequences of our sin and it’s impact upon our relationship with God.
Therefore what we are dealing with here is most solemn and searching. Paul was writing to Christians and he was warning of the possibility of committing this sin. Therefore it logically follows that we too have the potential of following a similar route. Grieving is not the only word that is used of the Holy Spirit’s sorrow when we follow a sinful path:
“Quench not the Spirit” (1st Thessalonians 5:19)
“But they rebelled and vexed his holy Spirit…” (Isaiah 63:10).
This work of the Spirit, with regard to the Church, however, should not be confused with His convicting of the sinner. Octavius Winslow in his work on “Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul” draws the contrast:
“In the case of the regenerate, the withdrawment of the Spirit on being grieved, is for a season only; in that of the finally impenitent and unbelieving the hushing of his voice, speaking to them in conscience, in providence, and in his word, is the giving up of them forever”
1: Our Reverence of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is of God; He is the third person of the Holy Trinity who lives within our hearts. He has created the new nature within us and He is the vicar of Jesus Christ in our souls. Our relationship with God is through the ministry of the Holy Ghost; “…access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 3:18). As God, within He taketh notice of every aspect of our lives; attitudes, actions ect.. Such a realization ought fill us with a sense of awe.
2: Our Responsibility to the Holy Spirit
The fact that we can grieve, quench or vex the Holy Ghost shows us that our actions will have detrimental impact upon our relationship with God. We have responsibility to nurture every relationship in life. Even the closest of bonds can be broken by a betrayal of trust or by a lack of respect. How much greater is our responsibility in deepening not disrupting the holy bond that we have with the Spirit of God?
3: Our Rebelling against the Holy Spirit
In a general sense we rebel against the Holy Spirit when we:
(a) Behave hypocritically or disohnestly – Acts 5:9
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
(b) Detract from the Glory of Christ – John 16:13-14
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come…He shall glorify me
(c) To rebel against his influence – Isaiah 63:10
But they rebelled and vexed his holy Spirit…
(d) Lukewarmness – Revelation 3:15-16
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
“The heart of the Spirit is infinitely more tender towards us than that of the most affectionate parent can be towards an only child. And he with cost and care hath nourished and brought us up into some growth and progress in spiritual affections…for us to grow cold, dull, earthly-minded, to cleave unto the pleasure and lusts of this world, how is he grieved, how is he provoked” (John Owen)
(e) Allowing a love for the world and its ways to dominate our thinking, our attitudes, our decisions (Romans 12:2).
And be not conformed to this world:
(f) A failure to manifest love, forgiveness and longsuffering towards our brothers and sisters (1st John 4:20-21)).
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
(h) Abusing the sacraments and the holy things of God, (1st Corinthians 11:29-30).
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
According to the context, within which Paul’s exhortation is located, however, there is a special sin which grieves more than any other. The exhortation to “grieve not the holy Spirit of God” is nestled between two verses which sternly warn against the sinful use of the tongue. “Corrupt communication, “bitterness, wrath and anger” only serve to vex the Holy Ghost. How we must endeavour to avoid a use of the tongue which brings the censure of God. Paul also advises how to use language in a wholesome way; “that it may minister grace”, and “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
4: Our Reproofs from the Holy Spirit
Grieving the Spirit inevitably holds consequences for the Church of Christ:
(a) Loss of power (1st Thessalonians 5:19).
The command to “Quench not the Spirit” implies that it is possible to lose the power, the infilling of the Holy Spirit when He is grieved by our disobedience.
(b) Denial of authority to act a Church (Revelation 2:5).
The removal of the candlestick, which represented the authority of the Church in the presence of the Great High Priest, was the removal of the Church’s right to act as part of Christ’s kingdom. A local assembly or denomination may have all the trappings of a a church but denied all authority so to act as Christ’s lawful ambassadors.
(c) Loss of the presence of Christ (Revelation 3:20).
Christ standing outside the door of the Laodecia Church, knocking and seeking admission, means that the Church was without His lively presence.
(d) Loss of assurance and peace (Psalm 51:11-12).
On account of his sin David had been robbed of peace and happiness as he sought for the restoration of the joy of God’s salvation.
(e) Loss of spiritual insight (Judges 16:20).
Samson rose ready to conquer the Philistines as before, but was not even aware that teh Spirit had departed. To be bereft of spiritual vitality and be so blind that we are oblivious to the fact. Pray for spiritual sensitivity!
(f) Reaping the consequences of sin (Galatians 6:7-8).
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
(g) Handed over to Satan (1st Corinthians 5:5).
The handing of a professing Christian, who has been living fast and loose with sin in the shameful manner, over to Satan, so that his flesh would be destroyed, on order for the soul to be saved represents the greatest and most fearful of divine censures.
5: Our Return to the Holy Spirit
David, when in the depths of despair, following his adultery with Bathsheba and sunsequent murder of Uriah, approached God with brokenness of Spirit crying “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:12).
The Church of Ephesus had not fallen into comparable scandal, yet they despite their orthodoxy had grieved the Spirit in leaving their first love. To these people Christ exhorted:
“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:5).
“Come, let us to the Lord our God
with contrite hearts return;
Our God is gracious, nor will leave
the desolate to mourn.
His voice commands the tempest forth,
and stills the stormy wave;
And though his arm be strong to smite,
’tis also strong to save.
Long hath the night of sorrow reigned;
the dawn shall bring us light:
God shall appear, and we shall rise
with gladness in his sight.
Our hearts, if God we seek to know,
shall know him, and rejoice;
His coming like the morn shall be,
like morning songs his voice.
As dew upon the tender herb,
diffusing fragrance round;
As show’rs that usher in the spring,
and cheer the thirsty ground:
So shall his presence bless our souls,
and shed a joyful light;
That hallowed morn shall chase away
the sorrows of the night.”