GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
Lord, thank You for sealing me with Your Spirit.
Read EPHESIANS 4:25–32
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
- Ephesians 4:26 Psalm 4:4 (see Septuagint)
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‘Take my voice, and let me sing / always, only, for my King. / Take my lips, and let them be / filled with messages from thee’ (FR Havergal, 1836–79, ‘Take my life’).
Yet again, ‘therefore’ matters (Greek dio, meaning for this reason, therefore). Verse 25 should flow seamlessly from verse 24, part of the same sentence. We are being created in the likeness, in the image of God: therefore we are to live, to act, to speak as if we are becoming like God. Elsewhere this is called becoming like Christ, who reveals the nature of God to us (2 Cor 3:18; Rom 8:29), therefore we must live in new ways, not the ways towards which our human nature draws us. Today’s examples mostly concern speech and its effect on others, a particularly current issue for us. We hear much about ‘free speech’, ‘hate speech’ and ‘fake news’. What then is Christian speech? These verses list what it is not. Christian speech should never be a vehicle for anger, lying, deceit, or quarrelling and never used maliciously or to ruin the reputation of others. Rather, as people who have been forgiven, our speech should show forgiveness, compassion, and kindness.
It is said that our actions, including our speech, can grieve the Holy Spirit (30). Much has been written about this supposedly difficult verse. Yet its meaning is clear. The Holy Spirit dwells within us (2 Tim 1:14). Our bodies are ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Cor 6:19), so of course we grieve the Holy Spirit when we ignore the Spirit’s leading and choose wrong paths. We do not live in Old Testament times when the Spirit came and went. We are not like Samson, ignoring the inner voice and not realizing that the Spirit has left him (Judg 16:20). We are ‘sealed’ (30). We who have come to God through Christ are protected. Whatever we do, the Holy Spirit will not leave us. It is not complex theology to see that the Holy Spirit, dwelling permanently within us, could be ‘grieved’ by what we choose to do.
O God, prepare our hearts to be fit places in which the Holy Spirit can dwell. Help us never to grieve the Spirit by anything we think, say, or do.
Lord, grant us the grace to order our conduct in such a way as not to grieve Your Spirit but rather to please Him.