“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”Ephesians 4:30
As we pursue greater fellowship with Him, though it is a somber subject, it is vital to address grieving Holy Spirit. Though the Spirit of God is within you as a believer and will not leave you, grieving Him has a way of creating a sense of distance in your fellowship with Him if not addressed quickly.
I know from experience that many times when something shifts in my relationship with God, when things feel dull or disconnected, I have grieved Holy Spirit and not noticed. I have moved on like a bull in a china closet, unaware of the sorrow I have caused the One who dwells in me.
It is in these moments that I can either sink into shame or come exposed to Holy Spirit, knowing that while grieved, He is still longsuffering and kind, and give a heartfelt apology. It’s not as though I’ve just lost my salvation or become unlovable, but I’ve driven a wedge between myself and my Friend. What my heart needs in that moment is a reconnection and to feel what He feels.
Though all analogies break down at some point, it is much like my relationship with my wife. I have wounded her in the past, totally unaware, and moved on with my day. Though I continue operating as normal past that point, a break or hindrance has happened in our connection. I can feel a sense of distance in the next interaction I have with her, though I’ve not become consciously aware of the moment it happened. We are no less married at that point; our covenant hasn’t changed. And yet, relationally, something is distant. Until that situation is addressed, intimacy is challenging. But once it is addressed, the opportunity for me to feel her pain opens up an invitation to a greater bond and resolve to not participate in the activity that wounded her in the future.
It’s an imperfect correlation, but it’s similar to our relationship with Holy Spirit.
If we are to have greater fellowship with Him, it is crucial to learn what grieves Him and take it to heart.
One way my marriage has grown is by knowing how to avoid the things that grieve my wife, but also recognizing when I’ve grieved her much faster and responding accordingly. The goal is the same with Holy Spirit, that I would quickly recognize when I’ve grieved Him and repent immediately. No gaps, no waiting. I want to be able to feel it immediately.
So, based on context, what grieves Holy Spirit?
“25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil [s]an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with [t]one who has need. 29 Let no [u]unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification [v]according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, [w]by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [x]you.”
While not an exhaustive list, here’s a good start from context:
- Speaking Falsehood/Lying: the Greek word here is pseudos. Half-truths are included. This one is pretty self-explanatory…lying grieves the Spirit. (Just ask Ananias and Sapphira)
- Members of one another: This is more inferred than directly stated, but it’s worth mentioning: it grieves Holy Spirit when we speak in a way that causes division in the body. The verse tells us to lay aside falsehood and speak truth to each other FOR we are members of one another.
- Do not let the sun go down on your anger: While the verse directly tells you to be angry, it strictly warns against holding on to your anger longer than the moment. There is a difference between being honest about your anger in a moment without letting it become a sin and holding on to the feeling or offense or justifying your actions. Anger isn’t necessarily a sin. Holding on to anger is. And it grieves Him.
- He who steals must steal no longer: The Greek word here is klepto—a dishonest gain of any sort. We think of this too simplistically. This means even if the teller at the register gives me an extra dollar by accident and I knowingly stay silent. It’s a heart thing. When we take what’s not ours.
- Let no [u]unwholesome word proceed from your mouth: Jesus, have mercy on me. Here’s my biggest struggle on the list. The Greek word here is sapros, meaning rotten or putrefied. As much as we want to justify being loose with our mouths, it doesn’t change the fact that it grieves Him. Help us, Lord.
- Bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice: No poison in your heart towards another, no inflamed outbursts of anger or violent emotion, no vehement expression of desire or dissatisfaction, no tarnishing another’s good name, and no unabashed evil or ill-will. Yikes.
- Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other: Just as kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, a lack of it displeases Him. We must keep our hearts in the tenderizer and be ready to forgive at all times. If you ever wonder if unforgiveness grieves Him, try ministering freedom to someone who is knowingly holding on to unforgiveness. Nothing changes.
I hope this list feels as daunting to you as it does to me.
Think of this list as a guide to relationship. This lets you know up front, pretty succinctly, how not to create distance between you and Him. This list becomes easier when it’s tied to relationship instead of task.
It always goes back to relationship. If my wife hates a certain behavior and I know it wounds her, it’s easier to forsake that activity. My various lusts as a young man, though they were still harmful, only really affected me. The weight and responsibility of dealing with those behaviors increased when I got married. Why? Because now it affected another.
I’m not trying to “do” this list so that I can pat myself on the back for being a good boy. I want to know these things because, in truth, my participation in them affects another. The One with whom I long to have fellowship. The relationship I need the most.
Notice the verse says not to grieve the Holy Spirit, “by whom you have been sealed for the day of redemption.” This is clearly a person, a “whom,” not an impersonal force. Inanimate objects can’t be grieved.
Though this entry has a somber note, it is important nonetheless. Acknowledging His personhood means acknowledging that He can be grieved. And I have a part to play in that. If you want to be a good partner in fellowship, it sure helps to know how not to grieve the One with whom you’ve partnered continually.
When you do grieve Him, act quickly. Let it grieve you. While the kindness of God absolutely leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), so does Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9).
Responding well when we’ve grieved Him can result in a beautiful transformation of our character and thought life where our motives are purified and driven by fellowship with Him. That’s a beautiful place to be. Where we live, above all, to please Him in all respects.
This is not an invitation to walk on eggshells. It’s an invitation to walk consciously. Conscious of the fact that, as believers, you have the HOLY Spirit of God in you at all times. He is right and Holy in everything He does and says. Learn what pleases and displeases Him, so that your fellowship will grow in every way.
Holy Spirit, I love you. If there is a place where I’ve grieved you, please forgive me. I desire deeper connection and partnership with You. Show me Your ways and how to forsake what doesn’t please You. Draw me to You once again, until our connection is seamless.
This blog is part of a series on fellowship with Holy Spirit. To read the intro, go here.
I am a Pastor, Author, and Teacher based out of Kansas City, MO. I am passionate about the message of the Kingdom, Grace, Healing and the renewing of the mind. I have been following God since age 18 when I was radically transformed and inserted into revival. I have learned some hard lessons and seen some wonderful fruit in the Kingdom, and my goal is to impart wisdom and grace to you to walk in fullness. I have a walking miracle for a wife and three amazing boys.