The context of our text is an appeal to the child of God, that he should “put off” the filthy rags of “the old man” (4:22) and “put on” the beautiful adornments of “the new man” (4:24). This is a call for purity and holiness in the heart and life of the believer.
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS FEELINGS
We are made to understand, first of all, that God the Holy Spirit is a person and is subject to the feelings and emotions that are common to personality. In our text, He is afflicted with sorrow (“grieve not”…Eph. 4:30) when our thoughts, words or actions are contrary to His holy character. Sin is displeasing to Him no matter where it is found, but especially is He afflicted with sorrow when sin is found among believers. It is like the grief which grips the heart of a parent over the actions of a wayward child. He is the Spirit of Holiness (Rom. 1:4) and Truth (Jn. 14:17; 1 Jn. 5:6), and could not approve that which is contrary to His nature. He does not hate people, but He hates their sin and is afflicted with sorrow.
Someone has rightly observed: “The Heavenly Dove may be grieved (Eph. 4:30). The Celestial Fire may be quenched (1 Thess. 5:19). The Divine Wind may be resisted (Acts 7:51). The Blessed Comforter may be despised (Heb. 10:29).”
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS A MINISTRY
God the Holy Spirit has a close and tender relationship with every believer: (1) He indwells us (Rom. 8:9-11)! This is such a precious privilege, one which the unsaved can never enjoy (Jn. 14:17). (2) He communicates joy to the saints (Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:22). (3) He imparts the love of God in our hearts (Rom. 5:3-4). (4) He gives hope (Rom. 15:13; Gal. 5:5). (5) He teaches the believer (Jn. 14:26). (6) He comforts the believer (Acts 9:31). (7) He helps our infirmities (Rom. 8:26). (8) He guides us (Jn. 16:13). (9) He sanctifies us. (10) He empowers us (1 Cor. 2:4)!
Surely these are wonderful and precious provisions for our enjoyment and execution of the Christian Way of Life.
When we grieve Him, we lose the awareness of His presence. It is hidden from us: no love, peace and comfort. We are left with an emptiness the world can never fill. We lose our Christian joy; there is no song, music or merry heart. We lose all power; no power to pray, study, or witness. Our running will be with weariness. Our walking will be with fainting, and like Samson, we are, captive, left weak and blinded (Jud. 16:20-21). We lose our confidence and hope, and in their place arises doubts, fears and suspicions. We lose our usefulness. We are as “salt that has lost its savor” (Mt. 5:13). We are good-for-nothing Christians! We have no fruit and we are as barren and ugly as a mule. We sow our seed to the wind. We labor much and bring in little. We put our money in bags with holes. We are no light in the surrounding darkness: no sinners saved, no growth in grace, no growth in numbers. What an awful price to pay for sin that grieves the Holy Spirit. Forbid it to be so in our lives or churches.
GOD THE SPIRIT HAS CAUSE FOR GRIEF
One of the causes of the Holy Spirit’s grief is our sins of the flesh and evil speaking (Eph. 4:17-32). Here we learn that such things as lying (vs. 25), anger (vs. 26), yielding to the Devil (vs. 27), stealing (vs. 28), corrupt communications (vs. 29), and verbal and mental abuses directed towards others (vs. 31) grieve Him. If there be dissensions, divisions and evil speaking of Christian brother against Christian brother, the Spirit of Love will soon be absent.
The Holy Spirit is grieved when we love the world (Ps. 78:40; 95:10; Jud. 10:16). Imagine your grief if you discovered your son loved someone else more than you! The Holy Spirit is grieved by our ingratitude (Isa. 63:14-17), feigned worship (Isa. 43:22-24), and unbelief (Gen. 6:3-6). This was the unpardonable sin of Israel; they doubted God’s truthfulness (Mt. 12:31-32).
It is serious business to grieve the Holy Spirit. I fear we have many times grieved Him May God forgive us! We must “put off the old man” and “put on the new man.”