Rev. Slopsema is pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
We can easily grieve others by our behavior. Our conduct can bring grief to a family member, a fellow saint in the church, a fellow student at school, or some close friend. Everyone has at one time or another grieved someone by his actions or been grieved by someone else.
It is also possible to grieve the Holy Spirit. And we are told not to do so.
This charge is found in a series of exhortations that probably reflect weaknesses found in the church of Ephesus.
Put away lying.
Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
Let him that stole steal no more.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.
And now this—grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.
There is an obvious connection here. One grieves the Holy Spirit of God by continuing in the abuses just mentioned.
Have you ever grieved the Holy Spirit of God?
The Holy Spirit of God is the Spirit that was poured out upon the church at Pentecost. By this Spirit we are sealed unto the day of redemption. As we celebrate the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost it is good to be reminded that we must not grieve Him. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. And now this—grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. There is an obvious connection here. One grieves the Holy Spirit of God by continuing in the abuses just mentioned. Have you ever grieved the Holy Spirit of God? The Holy Spirit of God is the Spirit that was poured out upon the church at Pentecost. By this Spirit we are sealed unto the day of redemption. As we celebrate the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost it is good to be reminded that we must not grieve Him.
A wonderful redemption!
Redemption is a release granted upon the payment of a price. This price is called the ransom. This was applied to slaves. For the payment of a ransom price, slaves were set free from their bonds.
There is also a spiritual redemption that results in release from the bondage of sin. On account of the fall, we are all the slaves of sin. Just as one can be a slave to the bottle or to drugs, so we are by nature slaves to sin. Sin controls us. It dominates our lives. It has an ironclad hold on all that we do. This is due to the depravity of the nature that we have inherited from our first father, Adam. Unless we are set free, this slavery will lead to our eternal ruin.
Christ has redeemed us from this horrible bondage. He paid the ransom price. The price was extremely high. He took upon Himself the guilt of our sin. At the cruel cross He endured the infinite wrath of God as proper punishment for our sins. On the basis of this ransom price we are redeemed. We are righteous before God. Our sins are forgiven. And we are set free from sin’s power. Sin can no longer reign over us. Through a spiritual rebirth we have become new creatures. We have a new life in which we are free to serve God and enjoy an intimate life of friendship and fellowship with Him.
However, we read here of the day of redemption—the day in which we are redeemed. And this is obviously in the future.
Jesus spoke of this day. Concerning the great upheaval in both nature and society that will mark the end of the world, Jesus said to His disciples, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
To understand this we must bear in mind that our redemption in Jesus Christ is not yet complete. Full redemption awaits the coming of the Lord.
There are several things to remember in this connection.
First, the work of grace that has freed us from the control of sin and set us free to serve God in righteousness is not finished. It is only begun. That leaves us with the sinful nature against which we must struggle daily. Redemption will not be complete until the work of grace completely sanctifies us.
Secondly, the curse of God is still on the creation. That explains the many trials and tribulations of life. The cross of Christ is the power also to redeem the physical creation from this curse. Only when the curse is removed from the creation will redemption be complete.
Finally, the wicked are still on the earth. Redemption also implies the destruction of all who wickedly oppose the church and who would use God’s creation for sinful purposes. Redemption will be complete only when the wicked are destroyed from the earth.
All these things will take place at the coming of our Lord from heaven. Then we will forever be freed from sin. The curse will be lifted from the creation. In fact, there will be a new creation in which only the righteous dwell. The ungodly shall be cast forever into the lake of fire.
This is the day of redemption! What a glorious day that will be. To that day we must look in hope.
A blessed seal!
To seal something is to stamp it with a signet or special mark. Items were sealed with a signet for various purposes. Sometimes it was used to show ownership. A seal was used also for security. Jars containing documents were sealed with clay and a special mark. Also, a seal could secure a letter’s privacy.
God has sealed us. He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit. “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (II Cor. 1:21-22).
To understand how the Holy Spirit can serve as God’s seal on us, bear in mind that it is the Spirit that leads us into a holy, sanctified life. He does this as the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was given to Jesus Christ at His exaltation in heaven. Through the Spirit the exalted Christ bestows upon us the blessings of the cross. This results among other things in our sanctification. It is this sanctifying work that frees us from the power and slavery of sin. It is an important part of our redemption.
This Spirit and His sanctifying work are God’s seal or mark upon us.
The Holy Spirit is God’s seal upon us, first, in that He is the mark that God places on us to identify us as belonging to Him, as being His property. The Holy Spirit, and His sanctifying work, are a very appropriate mark of ownership. God Himself is the holy God, pure and undefiled. Consequently, God marks with the sanctifying Spirit those whom He has purchased with the blood of His own Son and who therefore belong to Him.
The Holy Spirit is God’s seal on us also in that we are kept secure by His sanctifying work. Another purpose of a seal was to safeguard one’s property. So also are we kept safe by the Holy Spirit. The powers of darkness seek daily to bring us back into the bondage of sin from which we have been redeemed. But God has given us the Holy Spirit to keep us safe. By the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit we have been freed from the bondage of sin. By the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit we are also preserved in that freedom.
This is true unto the day of redemption. Until the day of redemption the church will find herself living in the midst of an evil world. Until that day God’s mark identifying those who are His will be the Holy Spirit. And by that mark God will keep His own safe until their redemption is complete.
An important calling!
Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
To grieve someone is to cause him by your behavior to suffer the pain and sorrow of grief. It is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit. We do this when we walk in sin rather than in holiness. The Holy Spirit resides in us and works in us to lead us in holiness. When we walk in sin, we grieve the Spirit.
This is not to be understood to mean that the Spirit is unable to control our lives, and that therefore He grieves helplessly when we sin. The working of the Spirit is irresistible. This was demonstrated in the sound of a mighty rushing wind at Pentecost. The Spirit is able to exercise total control over our lives. However, by God’s design, the work of the Spirit is only begun in us, so that there is still much sin in our lives. And when we give ourselves over to sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit.
Nor is this grieving to be understood as God changing His mind about us and rejecting us. This would be contrary to the faithfulness and immutability of God.
Yet, the Spirit is filled with sorrow when the redeemed forsake the way of their redemption to live in sin. This “grieving” is called anthropomorphism, a describing of God in human terms. This describes a reality with the Spirit. A parent is grieved by a son who rejects his upbringing and training. So also is the Holy Spirit grieved when we forsake the way of holiness to which He labors to bring us.
By calling attention to this, God gives us the motive for forsaking sin and walking in holiness. What a terrible thing it is to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. It is bad enough that we, through our sin, bring grief to those around us. Are you aware that you are grieving the Holy Spirit of God? Do you want to grieve the very Spirit who is set on you as a seal unto the day of redemption?
The realization that we grieve others by our sinful behavior will often be the incentive to turn away from such behavior. How can we continue to grieve a faithful spouse, a loving parent, or a close friend? How much more is this true for those who realize they are grieving the Holy Spirit of God by their sinful behavior?
Grieve not the Spirit by pursuing a sinful lifestyle.
Instead, give joy to the Spirit by walking in His sanctifying work, showing all the fruits of the Spirit.