Grieving and Offending the Holy Spirit, Part I

Introduction: The four-part series: Grieving and Offending the Holy Spirit, discusses the meaning, the significance and the seriousness of such an activity. Does it agree with Paul’s? Actually does it agree with the Holy Spirit who is the Author of Scripture and as such is the Agent for the Bible’s inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy?

What are your thoughts about grieving and offending the Holy Spirit? In Ephesians 4:30 (And don’t grieve the Holy Spirit with/in Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption), Paul gave a command. In the original language, we read: you, you stop grieving – or offending – the Holy Spirit. Or, cease what you are doing. Paul made the point: stop the habit of grieving the Holy Spirit. Grieving and offending the Holy Spirit is serious business. Of what is Paul, and the holy Spirit the Author of Scripture speaking?

The context of Ephesians 4 is critical for gaining a proper understanding of the passage. Paul spoke of relationships especially within the church. He was speaking of relationships and life in the body of Christ. He emphasized a fundamental choice: living for self vs. living for God (see Ephesians 2:13, 4-7, 8-10; 4:1-2, 17-19). This choice is part of the great divide. After Adam’s sin, self took center stage. The person would always choose self unless there was an inner-man change by the Holy Spirit. At regeneration, the believer was changed from a self-pleaser in principle to a God-pleaser. But the believer will always be tempted to remain loyal to self until Christ returns. For the believer, a moral drama of choice played out in his heart. The choice was between self-pleasing and pleasing. God.

• In verse 1 of chapter 4, Paul identified himself as a prisoner of Christ. He urged the people to live a life worthy of their calling (see Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

• In verses 2-3, he gave a sketch of what that lifestyle and patterned way of living would look like for the believer: be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

• In verses 17-19, he gave an exhortation: that you must no longer live as Gentiles (unbelievers) do. Paul says DON’T return to the vomit of self-pleasing that characterized their life as unbelievers. That was you but not now (Proverbs 26:11; Ephesians 2:4).

• In verses 18-19, he offered a general description of how unbelievers conduct themselves: wrong thinking (futility of their minds), wrong desires (given over to sensuality, that is sense-driven and controlled wanting without the grid of biblical truth for a correct interpretation of God, self, others and the situation), and wrong actions (self-pleasing at the expense of or in lieu of pleasing God and others).

Paul taught that unbelievers live and function as patterned self-pleasers. Self-pleasing is manifested in varying degrees and in a variety of forms. Self-motivated, self-directed, self-grasping and self-exaltation mark the patterned lifestyle of all unbelievers. However, Paul is speaking to believers – the congregation. A self-pleasing lifestyle carries over into the believer’s life because life after salvation is not a perfected life. That awaits heaven.

Paul’s call to live a life worthy of the Triune God had a dual exhortation. Paul centered his command on a put off -put on motif. It is a continuous and dynamic process of progressive sanctification. Notice verses 22-24. In the original language these verses are infinitives, not imperatives. The implication is not that believers should put off the old man of self-pleasing and put on the new man. Rather, believers are in Christ. They have a relationship with Him as a result of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:9-11; see John 14:17; 16:13: the Spirit is the Spirit of truth). Therefore, since they are in Christ, believers have had the old man put off – what they were as unbelievers. Paul calls them to function as one changed because they were and are!

Moreover, believers have put on the new man again because they are in Christ. This initial putting off and putting on is purely the work of the Holy Spirit. But He works in and with the believer but never for him or against him. For believers, this dynamic which has occurred to and in him is a reality that ca never be reversed.

But there is remaining sinfulness in the believer. He is a new creature but he does not function as one. In practice he gives evidence of the old man (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:9-11; 7:14-25). The believer still sins as a self-pleaser even though in fact and in principle he is not! Paul knew these realities and experience d them himself. His call is for believers, and himself, to be what they are in Christ. They must and can because they are in Christ indwelt by the Holy Spirit!

Paul goes on to describe the believer’s new lifestyle in terms of communication (4:25-32). Here are four summary rules regarding communication: be honest (v.25), keep current (v.26), attack the problem not the person (v.29), and act don’t react (v.31-32). Since the Church is the bride of Christ and God communicates with His Church via the Spirit and the Word, communication between believers is actually communication with God. Communication is God’s gift to mankind. Misuse of it is an attack on the Giver and grieves the Triune God. Moreover, God is a self-Revealer and self-Communicator in His Son and in His word by His Holy Spirit. He expects and deserves God-centered communication between believers and God and between fellow believers. This way of communication is part of the put off and put on process.

With that background, we turn our attention to Ephesians 4:30. I think it is best to translate the original term for grieve as to offend (see Romans 14:15 for a similar use). Scripture teaches that believers are sinning saints and saved sinners. This side of heaven every believer sins. In the context of self-pleasing, the believer is grieving and offending the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person. When you offend Him personally, you offend the Triune God. The Holy Spirit takes any offense against the Trinity personally and seriously (Acts 5).

1. When is the last time you grieved/offended the Holy Spirit?
2. What were the circumstances?
3. In the area of interpersonal relationships and communication, how have you used your words to glorify God and bless the other person?

Who is The Holy Spirit: Part II
The New Testament

As we continue our study: grieving and offending the Holy Spirit, the negative command not to grieve the Holy Spirit given in Ephesians 4:30 is one of a kind. There is no other command like it in the New Testament. As we learned in the first blog, the exhortation was given to the Church in the area of relationships and communication (see the rules of communication – Ephesians 4:25-32). Paul taught then and now that relationships matter and communication is a gift and tool to grow relationships vertically (Godward) and horizontally (man-ward). Grieving and offending the Holy Spirit damages body life as well as the individual’s daily life.

The life of the Church body depended and depends on godly communication. Communication is God’s nature and His gift to believers and the Church. Grieving and offending the Holy Spirit uses God’s gift in a sinful way. This all makes perfect sense when you remember that the Church and the individual believer are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 Peter 2:4-9; Romans 8:9-11; 2 Timothy 1:14; James 4:5). Grieving and offending the holy Spirit has far-reaching and God-dishonoring effects.

When a believer sins against another believer, he is sinning against the Holy Spirit who indwells both. Grieving and offending the Holy Spirit by sinning grieves and offends the Triune God. The Father and the Son sent the Spirit as part of the total redemptive package that the Triune God determined in eternity past (John 14:17, 26; 15:26-26; 16:13). Sin against the Spirit is a sin against the Trinity. That sin carries a definite personal touch to it. God protects His own.

The Holy Spirit did not humble Himself as Christ did. Jesus took on human flesh and became what He was not – the God-man. The Bible does not speak of the Holy Spirit’s humiliation. But consider what is at stake by Paul’s exhortation. Functionally, the Holy Spirit applies the merits and blessings of Christ’s redemptive work (John 14:17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:5-11, 13). He personally indwelt Christ (Isaiah 11:1-5; Matthew 3:17; 4;1) and He indwells the Church and individual believers (see above). Certainly grieving and offending the Holy Spirit is an attack on the Triune God.

In the new heaven and the new earth, the Trinity will be reunited so to speak. Salvation is a glorious Intratrinitarian activity (Ephesians 2:18; 3:12). What the Triune God did in saving a people for Himself is simply stupefying and magnificent. An attack on one member of the Trinity is an attack on the whole. The Holy Spirit has personal distinctions. He is a person and not an abstraction or a force. The Holy Spirit generates life and carries the creative work of God into completion (Genesis 1:1-2; Psalm 104:2, 29-30; Psalm 51:10; Job 32:8; 33:4).. The Holy Spirit is God, is called God, does the works of God, and receives honor as God (Acts 5).

There is an affective aspect to the Godhead including the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Our God is a jealous God and protective of His name (Exodus 20:5, 7). He is offended (Genesis 6:6). The jealousy of God mandates exclusive and singular devotion to God by His creatures. As a holy God, He is the just Judge of the world (Genesis18:25; Hebrews 12:18-24). He will right all wrongs. He is establishing His kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace. He does with vigor and determination. He is an awesome God!

The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (John 14:17, 26; 15:26; Acts 2:33). Procession is an exclusive property of the Holy Spirit. Truth is Intratrinitarian. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 16:13; 1 John 2:20, 27; 4:6; 5:6)); the Father speaks truth (Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 65:16; Romans 15:8); and the Son is Truth (John 14:6; Revelation 3:14). He is another of the same kind of Counselor as Jesus (John 15:26). Regeneration is an exclusive activity of Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; 6:60-64).

Moreover, God sent His Holy Spirit to Christ (Isaiah 11:1-5), to the Church, and to the individual believer. Christ, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, will return as the just Judge of all the earth. The Holy Spirit came to earth not only to regenerate, but to enlighten and illumine the world and believers (John 16:7-11, 12-15; Ephesians 3:14-21). The Light, Jesus Christ, came into the world and the Holy Spirit turned on the light in the world and in the heart of every believer (John 1: 5, 7, 11; Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21).

The Spirit is called Holy because He is set apart but He indwells His church and His people. He indwells as Immanuel tabernacled with His people (Matthew 1:23; John 1:14-18; Revelation 21:3). The term holy carries the idea of otherness and separateness. The word relates to purity. The lack of holiness and purity is the basis for the first exile. Unclean, stained with sin, guilt, and condemnation, Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden. The words and concept mean that God is untouchable and far removed from His creation in His very essence and nature. Yet, He approached His creation and especially His Church and believers in His Son and in His Spirit. Therefore, believers approach God and enjoy fellowship with Him because of the indwelling Holy Spirit as He applies the work of Christ. I repeat: grieving and offending the Holy Spirit is an attack on the Triune God. The Triune God does not give His glory to another and He does not bless His enemies (Isaiah 42:8; 48:8-11)

1. What truths about the Holy Spirt did you uncover?
2. From whom did He proceed?
3. What function does he have?
4. He is holy because why?

Paul’s Solution: Part III

This is the third in our series: grieving and offending the Holy Spirit. It is an understatement to say that the Church and the believer are to be mindful of the Holy Spirit’s presence and influence. The Spirit is God! Yet grieving and offending the Holy Spirit seems to be one of the acceptable sins. In Ephesians 5:15-18, Paul gave the Church direction as how prevent grieving and offending the Holy Spirit.
v.15: Be very careful, then how you live – not as unwise but as wise
v.16: making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.
v.17: Therefor do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.
v.18: Do not get frunk with wine which leads to debauchery. Instead be filed with the Holy Spirit.

Paul began with a warning: be careful regarding your patterned manner of life (v.15). Paul wanted the people to catch the big picture. All believers had a patterned way of life as unbelievers. That lifestyle and mindset was characterized by “I want,” “I deserve,” “me-first,” “my rights,” and “please me.” Paul knew of and taught that the believer has remaining sinfulness and that there is the lingering influence of membership in Satan’s family and kingdom. These are still formidable and operative in the Church and in the believer.

Please note well: the problem was and is within the believer, as well as outside of him (1 John 2:15-17). By virtue of their union with Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, believers were to redeem the time on this earth as wise people rather than as fools as they were previously (v. 16-17). The word translated as redeem is related to the Greek marketplace and indicates a buying back or out of. It is the picture of what Christ did at the cross – He paid the ransom price to buy back that what was His! Similarly the believer is to use his time as a down payment on pleasing the Triune God.

In verse 18, Paul gave an antidote for grieving and offending the Holy Spirit. Be drunk with the Holy Spirit and not with wine. Paul drew attention to wine’s comprehensive and all-pervasive influence. In like manner, the effects of the presence of the Holy Spirit are to be in evidence. The Church and the believer are to be so motivated, influenced, and governed by the presence of the Holy Spirit that the Church as a body and as individual believers are becoming more like Christ in thoughts, desires, and actions (Ephesians 4:1-2; 1 Peter 1:4-10).

The Holy Spirit is burdened and grieved when there is anything less than growth in Christlikeness. His indwelling would be for naught. Lack of the believer’s growth in Christ is a personal affront to the Spirit. He grieves for his children much as Jesus did when He grieved over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34-35; 19:41-44; 23:28-31). Was He offended? Yes. He was moved with compassion.

In Ephesians 5:19-21, Paul described in a general way what pleasing God should look like in the life of the Church and the individual. He not only described the what but also the how. Believers are to speak to one another, rejoicing in their hearts, and giving thanks. Discontent and ingratitude grieve and burden the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:14-18). They harm the cause of Christ. Offending the Holy Spirit is antithetical to John 13:34-35 and the law of love (Romans 13:8-10). Please notice that all the passages mentioned emphasize communication, both vertically and horizontally.

1. Please write your view of the Holy Spirit.
2. How do His presence in you and the Church influence you at home and in congregation? What changes do you need to make in terms of relationships?
3. Please read Isaiah 63:10 and Psalm 78:40-41, 56-58 in preparation to study the Old Testament’s view of grieving the Holy Spirit.

Grieving and Offending the Holy Spirit, Part IV
The Old Testament

In our last installment: grieving and offending the Holy Spirit, we turn to the book of Isaiah. It unveils in large degree the fullness of God’s justice and judgment, and God’s salvation – mercy and love. Yahweh is the Holy One of Israel; the phrase is used some 26 times throughout the book (only six times elsewhere in the Old Testament). As the holy One of Israel He must judge and punish rebellious people. The book of Isaiah catalogues Israel’s rebellion. They were an idolatrous group who chose self over Yahweh. They trusted in self and called good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). The first 35 chapters of the book address Yahweh’s judgment on Israel.

Yet the Holy One of Israel is a compassionate God. His compassion is a major subject of chapters 40-66. God redeems His people (35:9; 41:14). The redemption points back to the “old” exodus and points ahead to the “new” exodus which ultimately points to Christ and His resurrection (Isaiah 43:2, 16-19; 52:10-12; Luke 9:51; John 14:1-3). The New Testament picks up Isaiah’s theme of the proper way for the exiles to return (Isaiah 11:16; 40:1-3; 49:11; 57:14; 62:10 and Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:2-3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23). Repentance is the key. Repentance by definition is a change in thinking which leads to a change in desire and action.

It is in the context of the continued call to repent that Isaiah pled for Yahweh to remember and keep His covenant promise of redemption. Isaiah holds out Yahweh’s kindness and steadfastness in the face of Israel’s patterned rebellion: Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them (Isa. 63:10). The people rebelled in contradistinction to Yahweh’s goodness and long-suffering. In the place of humble and joyous gratitude and obedience, there was self-pleasing. The people were at enmity with their Creator, Benefactor, and Deliverer. At the time of the exodus from Egypt, Yahweh promised His presence but He warned the people: don’t rebel (Exodus 23:21). God promised His presence. But they did rebel and repeatedly (17:1ff; 32:1ff)! In the Old Testament, it is clear that the Holy Spirit is alive and well. He is a person distinct from the Father and the Son. He is one with the Father and the Son so that the Trinity is at work in both the Old and New Testaments.

By virtue of the people’s rebellion and on the basis that Yahweh is the just Judge of all the earth, God became what He was not before – an enemy who fought against His firstborn son, Israel (Exodus 4:22-24). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption (Galatians 4:6-7). God’s righteous judgment ushered forth from His holiness and righteousness. Yahweh is King who initially established His kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace through the lesser David as a foretaste and a pointer to the greater David, Jesus Christ, the true King and the true Israel. The Holy Spirit rested on Christ, empowered Him, and endowed Him with knowledge, wisdom, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 9:6; 11:1-3; Matthew 3:17; 4:1). Christ never grieved or offended the Holy Spirit!

The book of Isaiah carried a twofold message: judgment and deliverance. When John the Baptist and Jesus came on the scene, they proclaimed that the kingdom of God was here and the only logical response for God’s people was repentance and faith (Mark 1:5; Matthew 3:2; 4:17). Salvation and judgment are linked. There are consequences for rejecting the Triune God, whether it is the Holy Spirit or the Son.

Grieving and offending the Holy Spirit was a patterned way of life for the people of Israel. Acting contrary to the very nature of God and His revealed truth and will is grieving the Holy Spirit. It is a sin against the third commandant. It is serious business!

As mentioned before, He led the apostles into truth; He does the same for and the Church and believers as well (John 14:17; 15:26-27; 16:13-15; Ephesians 1:14-20; 3:14-21). Acting contrary to what the believer is in Christ grieves and offends the Holy Spirit in part because it is denying the truth revealed by the Triune God.

Moreover, all that is opposed to holiness and goodness opposes the Holy Spirit. In essence, pleasing-self is rebellion against God. It is highlighted by self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, self-trust, and self-exaltation. When self is king, there is no room for God and there is no fear of the Lord. Self-pleasing is an attack on the very ministry of the Holy Spirit. In the short term and certainly in the long run, it is spiritual suicide!

We should not assume that rebellion against God was reserved only for the Israelites and Old Testaments saints. No, sadly, grieving and offending the Holy Spirit is alive and well in every age until Christ returns. It is evidenced in the daily life of every believer. One antidote against grieving and offending the Holy Spirit is vigilance and awareness of who the Triune God is, who you are is, and the application of truth to your every thought, desire, and action. That requires enabling, and sanctifying grace through the activity of the Holy Spirit.

1. Isaiah opened and closed his book (1:2 and 66:24) with an announcement of condemnation for those who rebelled. Write out your thoughts regarding Isaiah’s opening and closing.
2. Examine yourself according to Hebrews 4:12 and record thoughts, desires, and actions that indicate rebellion against the Triune God.
3. What is the answer for rebellion? Please base your answers on the first, second, and tenth commandments as given in Exodus 20:3-7, 17.
4. What is your view of the Holy Spirit and does it fit with Scripture? How will you change?