Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Does "Grieve Not the Holy Spirit" Mean in Eph 4:30?

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God . . .” Ephesians 4:30

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

I love the teachings and implications of Ephesians 4:30. At baptism, we receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). God who has anointed and established every believer “also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:22 and 5:5; Ephesians 1:13). The Spirit of God lives within every Christian.

The fact that the Spirit of God lives within every Christian does not remove our ability to choose our attitudes and actions. It does not remove our personal responsibility before God. Galatians 5:16-26 documents that so clearly. Paul urges Christians, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (5:16), and “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (5:25). As long as we are in the body, there’s an ongoing battle between the Spirit and the flesh.

There is nothing special about the word “grieve” (lypeo) in Ephesians 4:30. It’s the same word for pain or distress that’s used multiple times in 2 Corinthians 2 and in 2 Corinthians 6:10. William Mounce helpfully writes, “Finally one use of lypeo serves as proof of the personality of the Holy Spirit, who is said to grieve at the sins of Christians.” (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words).

By faith Christians are to welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit. By Divine instruction, we are to choose to “walk in the Spirit.” When we fail to “walk in the Spirit” by following the principles and precepts of Scripture, we oppose and disappoint the Holy Spirit of God.

The context of Ephesians 4 strongly supports these conclusions. Christians are reminded, “…That you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind” (4:17). Practicing lewdness, uncleanness, and greediness must be rejected (4:18). Having been taught the truth in Jesus (4:21), we actively put off “the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (4:22), and we actively “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24).

With God’s help, we choose to grow more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15). We reject lying, unrighteous anger, theft, and corrupt communication (Ephesians 4:25-29), because embracing those sins would grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

What a wonderful warning and encouragement! God is helping us do right and grow in the image of His Son. He loves us and wants us to choose to trust and obey. As surely as sinful choices “grieve the Holy Spirit of God,” God-honoring choices must bring Him great joy.

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