Rev. VanOverloop is pastor of Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church in Bauer, Michigan.
My parents have invested a lot of time and effort in me. Also much prayer.
They sought to fulfill the vows they took before God and before His church when I was presented for baptism. Those vows consisted of their promise to instruct me in the doctrine which is contained in God’s holy Word and which was and is taught in the church of which they were members (Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church). These vows they willingly took upon themselves, even though it demanded so much of them, and that to the best of their ability. They willingly took this same vow five more times when each of my brothers was baptized.
My parents put a lot of time and effort into teaching, training, and guiding me. They did so because they believed God’s promise that He usually uses such efforts of godly parents as the means to work faith in their children. So gracious is this promise and so worthy is the goal, that they considered no amount of effort to be too much. In support of their efforts they joined other likeminded parents to establish schools which would teach and train their child(ren) in the truth. This was done at great expense and with great sacrifice. But for them the goal was worth it. For them the effort was worth it.
Most parents invest much into their children. Whether or not faith abides in the heart of the parents, they are inclined to do everything they can for their children. When a mother drowns her two children, it is seen as rare and the exception. (Somehow, a distinction is made between a mother killing her child before it is born, and her killing it after it is born.) Often their love for their children goes beyond proper bounds and they “spoil” the child.
Parents, even unbelieving parents, invest much in their children.
When a child does something which is contrary to all the instruction the parent gave it, then the parent is “grieved.”
Grief is a word which is usually used to describe the frame of mind of those who have had a loved one die. But it is not too strong a word to describe what a parent experiences when a child does or says something that is opposed to their prayers. Grief is a sharp emotional pain which cuts deeply. It takes a long time to recover from grief.
The Bible speaks of this. “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him” (Prov. 17:25). “He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy” (Prov. 17:21). “Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father” (Prov. 28:7).
Sadly, most children never think of the grief they might be causing their parents. They are usually unaware of what effect their actions have on their parents. Normally they do not think of the sword they are thrusting into the souls of their parents. Children are often thing only of themselves. They are out for their fun and enjoyment. And many times, if they want to do something which is contrary to parents’ instruction, children think only of how backward and old-fashioned the “old man” and “old lady” are, and do not think of what it will mean to their parents. They do not consider the shame and embarrassment they will cause those who have given so much of themselves for them.
The grief caused by children who act contrary to their parents’ instruction is so great that sometimes they could better shoot their parents than do something that would cause this grief and sorrow of heart.
This grief does not stop when the children reach a certain age. It continues. The verses of Scripture quoted earlier in this article set no time limit. Regardless of our age, when we go contrary to our parents’ wishes and instructions we hurt them. Believing parents may be so old that they have one foot in the grace, but they still feel the hurts caused by wayward children.
Think about what you are doing or plan to do from this perspective. Consider how much your parents have invested in you.
After all they have done for you, you owe it to them. Do not be inconsiderate of how they feel.
Consider how many of your diapers they must have changed. Consider how long your dad had to work for all the food you ate. Consider how many times your mother has her sleep interrupted by your crying for food or when you were sick. Think of how many times your mother picked up after you.
Think of how many times your parents prayed for you.
You owe your parents. From this perspective, you owe them, at the very lest, respect and consideration.
If you are a believer, it is not only your parents that you grieve when you sin. When believers sin, they also grieve the Holy Spirit of God. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
To grieve the Holy Spirit of God is far worse than grieving loving parents. The grief a child brings upon his parents is the picture the Bible uses to describe the grief God’s child causes the Spirit, who is in him, when he sins.
Like parents for their children, the Spirit does a lot for the regenerated and justified child of God. The Spirit of God applies to each of the elect the salvation Jesus earned through His suffering and death. It is the presence of the Spirit in one that makes him a child of God. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). It is only through the Spirit working in him that one is able to confess that Jesus is the Christ and is his Lord (I Cor. 12:3).
The Spirit takes up His dwelling place inside those whom God elected and for whom Christ died. It is His presence in us which makes us temples of God. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (I Cor. 3:16)? “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own” (I Cor. 6:19)?
Like parents for their children, the Holy Spirit does much for believers. He enables them to believe! He regenerates and converts. “When God… works in them true conversion, He…powerfully illuminates their minds by His Holy Spirit, …by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man; He opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, …infuses new qualities unto the will, which though heretofore dead, He quickens…that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions” (Canons, III/IV, 11).
The Spirit’s initial work of converting is below the consciousness of the recipient. Much of the later work of the Spirit is in perfect harmony with the nature of man. He works in believers without violating their will. He gives faith, and is the instrument through which we have communion with the ever-blessed God (Rom. 8:14, 15). Through the Spirit we are given to know God (I Cor. 2). The Spirit leads us to confess that we belong to Christ (I Cor. 12:3). The Spirit sanctifies all those whom He occupies (Tit. 3:5; I Peter 1:2).
When we sin, then we grieve the Holy Spirit of God. When we act in an unholy manner, then we wound the Spirit.
This implies that the Spirit is a real person, and not just some power of God or a divine influence. Grief is not experienced by a thing, by a power, but it is experienced by a person.
What a terrible thing to do to One who has invested so much into us!
Thankfully, we never kill the Spirit. Our sins, no matter how grievous, never cause the Spirit to leave us. He never stops performing His sanctifying work in us. In fact, by Him we “are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). Our sins are not able to chase Him out of us. He will be grieved, but He will not leave. Believers do not commit the sin against the Holy Spirit. They cannot.
Nevertheless, we cause grief to the Holy Spirit of God when we sin.
Children often do not consider the effect their sins have on their parents. Believers do not often think of what their sins do to the Spirit in them.
Young and old, when we, believers, sin, then we grieve the Holy Spirit of God which is in us. The context ofEphesians 4:30 teaches us that the sins of believers which grieve the Holy Spirit in them are not just those we would measure as being great. Rather, the context teaches that a sin which grieves the indwelling Holy Spirit is the sin of lying, of letting the sun go down on our wrath, of stealing, and of unedifying, “rotten” talk (Eph. 4:25, 26, 28, 29). The indwelling Spirit is grieved by the sin of bitterness, wrath, anger the lack of tenderheartedness, and the refusal to forgive as God has forgiven (Eph. 4:31, 32). Many of these sins are the kind that are frequently committed in our homes, when we sit in our houses.
The Spirit in believers is “holy.” He works in us and through us to make us holy. It is not that our sinning makes the Spirit impotent and His work in us inefficacious. But a sin or a walk in sin does displease Him; it does remove from us the consciousness of His presence and the joy of our salvation.
The indwelling Holy Spirit is grieved when His sanctifying work in believers is hindered by our abuse of the very gift God gives to further our sanctification.
Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.
Preachers and parents often admonish young people not to sin by trying to scare them by putting fear into them. In Ephesians 4 the Spirit inspires the apostle Paul to use a different tact. The apostle tells the Ephesians that they are saved, and that their salvation is secure, even to the day of final redemption of their bodies. They are told that they will not lose their salvation. Then comes the admonition to be holy.
Some would say that this approach is like walking on thin ice. It is dangerous to tell God’s people that their salvation is secure, because then they will sin as they please.
The Scriptures repeatedly declare the preservation of the saints, and they do so unashamedly. The Spirit that seals to the day of redemption is the Holy Spirit. He sanctifies. And He often sanctifies through the consciousness of gratitude. He shows us what Christ has done for us so we will be eternally grateful. He declares Jesus’ undying love, so we will walk in the obedience of a thankful love.
To prick us unto a holy talk and a forgiving spirit, we are admonished, “Grieve not the holy Spirit of God” who dwells in us.
We grieve our parents when we sin.
Worse, we grieve the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. Grieve Him not!