Do not grieve the Holy Spirit


Last week I spoke of ways in which we resist the Holy Spirit and how we resist his work in our lives and in the world.  I said mostly that was because we were blind to him and his work.


Today I want to speak of another way that we thwart the Holy Spirit.  First it was resisting and now we are going to talk about grieving.


Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.


Grieving literally means to cause sorrow to.   So we are called not to grieve God, not to cause sorrow to God, do not make the heart of God sad.


Whenever God is thwarted, whenever he is disobeyed, whenever he gives some new revelation of Christ that we do not respond to, he is grieved.  His heart is made sad by our disobedience; his purpose of grace in us is hindered.[1]


This Ephesians passage is talking to Christians – we who have believed in Jesus, asked him into our heart and been filled with the Spirit.

The resisting passage from last week related to wishy washy Christians, and to non Christians, but today the word is laid right at the feet of those who profess faith in Christ.


The warning we are faced with today is not to grieve the Holy Spirit by willfully disobeying Him.[2]


We disobey the Spirit and cause him grief when we do actions which he has revealed to us as being wrong. In the passage around this verse in Ephesians [4:25-32], the actions that we do that grieve the Spirit are outlined:


25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.


Falsehood, speaking lies, sinful anger, making room for the devil, stealing, being dishonest in our work for our bosses, or the tax man, speaking ill, bitterness, wrath, anger, bickering, slander, malice, unkindness, hard heartedness, unforgiveness.


The Holy Spirit’s work is to sanctify us.[3]  The actions outlined above grieve the Spirit, they are not the actions of a sanctified person.


When a believer does these things he grieves the Holy Spirit. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit and sin will prevent the believer from being filled with the Spirit.[4]


Let me emphasize the point: this time from the great preacher of the 18th Century Charles Simeon:

“Unhallowed tempers and dispositions are most offensive to the Spirit of God. God will not dwell where there is bitterness and wrath, and anger and clamour, and evil-speaking and malice, or a habitual want of a forbearing and forgiving spirit. Falsehood too in our words, and dishonesty in our dealings, and impurity in our hearts, will assuredly drive him from us, and bring down upon us the tokens of his displeasure: “If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy.” [5]


That is a serious consequence.  Charles Simeon is picking up on 1 Corinthians 3:17


17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.


He is saying that there is a consequence for us when we grieve the Holy Spirit by our actions and that consequence is not a slap on the hand with a wet bus ticket.  God is holy and he does not tolerate willful thumbing of our noses at him.  We are not ignorant of his standards; we cannot use ignorance as an excuse.


We may say to that “I cannot lose my salvation – once saved, always saved.”  But remember the enemy’s task is to draw us away from a relationship with God and he can divert our eyes from the right path because he wants us back in the kingdom of darkness.



Charles Simeon again: when we suffer the wily “serpent to beguile us, and to turn us from the simplicity that is in Christ,” then is the Spirit grieved: for he is a jealous God, and especially jealous for the honour of that Saviour, whose cause he has espoused.


He continues that by departing from our expressions of faith in God, we shall provoke him to hide his face from us. [6]


There is one other time that the phrase “grieve the Holy Spirit” is used.  In Isaiah 63:10

But they rebelled and grieved his holy spirit; therefore he[God] became their enemy; he himself fought against them.


Isaiah refers to the Israelites whom God brought out of Egypt and who grumbled and moaned all the way through the desert. Isaiah said that they had “grieved the Lord in the wilderness,” and had therefore been excluded from the Promised Land, and that was the consequence of causing sorrow to God[7]


Isaiah reminded us that God did not let the Israelites into the Promised Land because they grieved the Spirit, so serious were their actions which caused God sorrow.

I do not want us to fear that God will take away our salvation but on the other hand I don’t want us to be complacent that because I am saved I can do what I like, good or bad.


The Spirit himself warns that in these last times before Christ’s return some will turn away from the true faith. It says so in 1 Tim 4:1–2. They will disavow their confession. They will turn their backs on him and follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. [8]


There is a real danger for us in these latter days.


The danger is that we can grieve the Holy Spirit by our actions and if we do that, we can be led astray, off the right path. If that is happening, we need to repent and ask God’s forgiveness.


The Pilgrim in “Pilgrim’s Progress” cried out: I have grieved the Spirit, and he is gone; I tempted the devil, and he is come to me; I have provoked God to anger, and he has left me: I have so hardened my heart, that I cannot repent.[9]


Last week I spoke of the stiff necked people who were stubborn and resisted the Holy Spirit.


The warning we have here also is that our actions can harden our hearts to God to such an extent that we refuse to repent.  Our actions can grieve the Holy Spirit.


Nip it in the bud before such actions become a habit. Nip it in the bud when it is a thought before it becomes an action. Nip it in the bud and repent of the thought. If it has gone further than that, repent of the thought and the action.  But never let it become so entrenched in us that we refuse to repent and are lost to the Kingdom.








[1] G Campbell Morgan The Spirit of God 233-234

[2] Lutz, S. “Love One Another as I Have Loved You.” The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Number 3, Spring 2003, 21, 18.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Purpose of God: Ephesians (p. 119). Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.

[4] Enns, 279)

[5] Simeon, 365). .

[6] Simeon, 365

[7] Simeon, C. Horae Homileticae: Galatians-Ephesians (Vol. 17, p. 360).

[8] Belleville, L. (2009). Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews (Vol. 17, p. 18). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[9] Bunyan, J. (1995). The pilgrim’s progress: From this world to that which is to come. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.