And grieve not the holy Spirit of God whereby ye we sealed unto the day of redemption.
Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God!
Startling and shocking admonition!
Startling and shocking is this admonition because it is addressed to the church of Christ and particularly to the members of the church. The apostle is not speaking here of the grief of God over the acts of men in general, as the Scriptures do, for example inGenesis 6:6, where we are told: “it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart”; but he is addressing the children of God who make themselves guilty of this act of grieving the Holy of Spirit of God. To you have been called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, who have been made the recipients of the grace of salvation merited by Christ, who have been renewed in the spirit of your mind after the image of Christ, who have been united as members of Christ’s body in the bond of peace. To you is this admonition addressed!
An admonition related to the general admonition in the context; namely, “that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, . . . and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” And an admonition still more closely related to the more particular admonition: “Neither give place to the devil.” And still more particularly related to the admonition that immediately precedes our text: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
In this setting must the admonition be seen and understood!
The Holy Spirit of God!
The third person of the holy Trinity! Very God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son! Who with the Father and the Son possesses all the divine attributes, is worthy of divine honors and praise, is clothed with divine majesty and glory, possessing in Himself and knowing the eternal fullness of the fountain of all good. Who proceeds from both the Father and Son. In whom both Father and Son meet, and have together the most perfect covenant life of divine fellowship. Who searches out the deep things of God, taking them out of the Father and revealing them to the Son, and taking them out of the Son and revealing them to the Father.
Holy Spirit He is called because of His peculiar personal relation to the divine family. Accordingly He is devoted to the Father and the Son, never speaking of Himself, but always in loving devotion and consecration to the Father and the Son.
Holy Spirit of God here viewed as the Spirit of Christ and given to the church! The Spirit which Christ merited through the way of His perfect obedience, and which is given to Him at His exaltation, and which He on the day of Pentecost poured out into the church as the comforter, the one who would lead the church into all the truth, and abide with her forever. That Spirit by which Christ would apply unto His church all the graces of salvation He merited for her, the grace of regeneration, justification, sanctification; faith, love, grace, mercy, etc.
The Spirit whereby ye were sealed unto the day of redemption!
In principle the church has been redeemed! Christ Jesus brought the ransom price and paid it before the tribunal of God, so that the just and holy God must allow those for whom Christ died to be free from His wrath, and to be delivered out of the bondage of sin and death. But that church is still in the world of sin and darkness, still in the throes of war, unrest and strife. And she has the promise of final and complete deliverance in the day of Christ, in the parousia on the clouds of heaven.
Unto that day of redemption the church is sealed by the Holy Spirit! Yea, the very seal is the Spirit Himself. He is the divine stamp indelibly stamped on the church, the mark which sets the church off as the genuinely redeemed and glorious body of Christ. In this stamp the church is designated, in distinction from the world of darkness, as God’s precious possession. Hence, the church is safe, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against her.
Grieve not that Spirit!
But how is this possible? How can the Spirit be grieved? Is not all grief suffering? Can God suffer? Moreover, when you consider that the church is the product of the grace of the Holy Spirit, do we not meet with a serious problem when we are confronted with the doctrine of irresistible grace, a fundamental and basic doctrine of Christian faith? How can it be said that the Spirit grieves over His own work?
Yet there it stands in bold relief!
Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption!
Now certainly as third person of the holy Trinity it is impossible that the Holy Spirit should suffer grief. For He is the eternally perfect one, who lives the life of spotless perfection with the Father and the Son. There is nothing that can disturb Him or bring Him anguish as He lives the life of perfect blessedness. No more than the Son of God in divine nature could sorrow or suffer grief, can the Holy Spirit as divine person in the Trinity be grieved.
But the situation becomes quite different when you consider that the Holy Spirit becomes the Spirit of Christ, who dwells in the church, the church which dwells in the world. Looking at it from this point of view, you can understand not only how it is possible, but often very truly is the case that the Spirit is grieved. For as the Son of God, possessing the divine nature which cannot suffer, nevertheless assumed the complete human nature in which all His life time He suffered, a suffering which was climaxed on the cross of Calvary, so also the Spirit, as the Spirit of the Mediator, dwelling in the church in the world and very much subject to sin and corruption, can suffer and be grieved.
Grief and sorrow have to do with an object of love. Parents will grieve over the sinful conduct of the child which is the object of their love. In a much higher and deeper sense these reactions are registered in the relation of the Holy Spirit to the church. He loves and rejoices in His own work. He takes all that is in Christ and declares it to the church. He glorifies Christ and pours out the riches of Christ into His body; the church. In this work of giving the life of Christ to the church the Spirit rejoices. He rejoices when the church reveals her true earmarks, and shows that she is living the life of God. He rejoices greatly when in the struggles of the believer He observes him putting off the old man with his deeds, and positively putting on the new man which is the reflection of the image of Christ. But just as truly He is grieved by all that which is out of the old man: all the works of darkness we still commit bring Him sorrow. All hatred, enmity, party strife, lying, slander and back-biting, evil gossip, which are works of the devil, He hates. He is grieved when we still walk according to the flesh and produce in our lives the unfruitful works of darkness. In the measure we live out of the old man of sin, we are the authors of His grief. Whenever we fall into sin, we are guilty of grieving the Spirit.
But how and in what manner does the Holy Spirit show His grief?
Observe, first of all, that this grief comes to manifestation in the individual believer who sins. That believer will for a time lose the consciousness of his own salvation. For he cannot walk in darkness and still boast of his security and assurance of faith. When the Spirit is grieved, He leaves the child of God in such a wonderful way that he also becomes grieved with his own sin. Do not misunderstand! This sin of the believer whereby the Holy Spirit is grieved and leaves him has nothing in common with the so-called unpardonable sin. The latter is something quite different. The true believer never commits it. One who commits the unpardonable sin is never grieved over it. The fact that one is alarmed about committing the unpardonable sin is proof that he never committed it. But the grief of the Holy Spirit of which the apostle is here speaking is something quite different. We hasten to add that when we say that the holy Spirit leaves one in such a wonderful way that he becomes grieved with his own sin, this departure is only of a temporary nature. In fact we should say that the Holy Spirit never leaves the true believer, except in the consciousness of that believer. The very fact that there is a consciousness of sin on the part of the believer is proof of the Spirit’s presence and work. For it is the Spirit that convicts of sin. But while the believer loves and seeks his sin, he cannot have the consciousness of the Spirit’s presence, nor the assurance of his salvation.
Secondly, that grief of the Holy Spirit is seen also in the sorrow of the other members of the body of Christ who refuse to walk with you in your sin. We must not forget that the Holy Spirit of Christ dwells in all the members of His body. And whoever grieves the Spirit by his sinful walk grieves also the congregation of Jesus Christ. As it is true that when one of the members suffers all the members suffer with him, and when one of the members rejoices they all rejoice with him; so it is just as true that when one of the members sins and the sin becomes known to the other members, they all are grieved because of his sin. And this pain and sorrow will continue until the sinner repents. And it is most striking that the apostle before he exhorts not to grieve the Spirit, first exhorts, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” It is as if he were saying, “and the most common way in which you become guilty of grieving the Spirit is by the improper use of your tongue.”
Why should we not grieve Him then?
Well, because the Spirit rejoices in a holy and sanctified walk. Then, too, the assurance of our salvation rests on our being pleasing to Him. Not our salvation, for that is sure; but the assurance of our salvation rests on it. And if we truly love Christ’s church, we will not be guilty of grieving the Spirit because the very spiritual life of the church is dampened when we do.
What is our calling then?
Put off the old man with his deeds! Put off all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, malice, evil speaking!
Positively, put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness! These are the works of light which are the rejoicing of the Spirit, and consequently also the rejoicing of all the people of God.