Ephesians 4:30-Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
So, we have been talking about how the life of Christ is deposited or transplanted into our lives and how we can engage with the Risen Christ in our daily lives. The next level of understanding we need to have is that it is the Holy Spirit that makes all of that possible.
We are converted by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let me first explain what the word, “converted” means. There are several ideas associated with the word. First of all, “con,” from the Latin, means “around.” “Vertere,” means “to turn.” So, when you put those two words together, “converted” means to “turn around.” That is what happen to us as sinners who are walking the path of sin and self. When we are converted by the Holy Spirit’s power, we turn around and walk in the opposite direction. The word “converted” carries the ideas of change, exchange, being altered, having a change in nature, a change in purpose and a change resulting from a realization of the truth. When we talk about conversion to Christ, we are describing something we cannot do apart from the Spirit’s help.
This is part of the Gospel message we have to understand. We cannot change ourselves. We can believe, but we cannot be changed from the inside out, we cannot exchange our life for the life of Christ, we cannot be altered from sinner to saint, we cannot receive our God-given purpose, without the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit being enacted upon us. If you are saved, it is because you have received the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. It is initiated by belief, but it is received because the Holy Spirit is responsive to your confession.
In John 3 we read about a religious leader, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who went to have a conversation with Jesus. He believed Jesus was, at the minimum, a teacher who had been sent by God. He knew that unless Jesus had been given some authority from Heaven, He would not be able to do the kinds of miracles He was doing.
Jesus very quickly explained that believing He had been sent by God was a start, but unless people were born again, meaning a spiritual birth, they would not be converted. He said that simply believing something about God or believing there is a God, won’t give someone entrance into the Kingdom of God. Jesus said that in order to gain access to God, there had to be more than belief; there had to be a birth. He called it being born again. Nicodemus didn’t really understand how that was possible, to be born again. Obviously, a person cannot re-enter their mother’s womb and have a second physical birth. Jesus explained in verse 5 that in order to enter the Kingdom of God, you have to be born of water (physical birth) and the Spirit (spiritual birth).
The finished work of Jesus and the life of Jesus are imparted to you through a miraculous, supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. You initiate it with belief, with faith, but you receive it as a gift of the Spirit by God’s grace. Your soul is regenerated, made new, by the Holy Spirit doing something on the inside of you. Just like you can’t see the wind, but you see its effects, Jesus explained to Nicodemus, you will be able to see the effects of the Spirit when a person is born again. There will be a change. Conversion involves a change. Now, that change may not make its way to the outside of your life right away, but it will take place immediately in the spiritual sense. Here is the bottom line about conversion: You cannot have a relationship with Jesus without the Holy Spirit’s involvement, and you cannot have the life of Jesus without the Holy Spirit’s involvement.
Let’s go back to our main verse for today in Ephesians 4:30, “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.” Don’t resist being converted. Don’t resist being born again. Don’t resist the work the Spirit is seeking to do in your life. Salvation, conversion, is the best possible thing that could happen to a person, and yet many resist it and sadly many refuse it. Believe on the Lord Jesus and receive the work of the Spirit in your life.
So, we understand that we are converted by the Holy Spirit’s power. Second, We need to be consumed and controlled by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Last week we talked about how those two disciples on the Road to Emmaus were so drawn to Jesus that they asked Him to stay with them and spend more time with them. He could do that physically because Jesus was still physically present. But now, Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God the Father and is seated in power. Now, if we want to spend more time with Him, that is made possible as we make room for and seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit who IS the Spirit of Christ.
The first step is conversion. Being consumed or controlled by the Holy Spirit is the second step. Being filled with all the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3:19) means being filled with the Holy Spirit. When we recognize our need to be filled with the Holy Spirit we are saying, “We want the life of Christ to expand in us and to fully possess us.”
We don’t want to do anything to limit the Spirit’s work in our lives, anything that would keep the life of Jesus from expanding in us. Let’s move into Ephesians 4 for some understanding of the kinds of things that could quench or grieve the Spirit in our lives.
The section beginning in verse 17 has a title in front of it. In my Bible, the title is “Living as Children of Light.” This is the goal, to live as children of the light, to let the light and life of Christ expand and be seen in us. Paul is going to give us some help in understanding what things diminish that light and stifle the move of God’s Spirit in our lives.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Let’s allow the word, “Gentiles” here to represent those who are without Christ, those who haven’t been converted, those who do not possess the Spirit of God. Paul talks about the futility of their thoughts and their darkened understanding and their ignorance of God which is a result of a hard heart. Listen, those without the Spirit will always be intellectually frustrated because they won’t have settled what truth is. Truth is Jesus. Truth is found in the Word of God. Truth is what God says about life, relationships, priorities, money, demons and angels, Heaven and Hell, etc. Those who won’t accept that God defines truth, those people cannot be filled with the Spirit of God because interestingly enough, the Holy Spirit is called “The Spirit of Truth.” (John 16:13)
I think Paul would agree with me that a hard-hearted person is a hard-headed who cannot receive truth, and that grieves the Holy Spirit.
Paul goes on to say, 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
Do you see the progression? When your heart is hardened to truth, you lose a sense of morality; you lose discernment of what is right and wrong and whether it matters if you choose what is right. You lose the ability to care about morality and consequences. You live with a “So what?” mentality. People in that condition plunge into all kinds of yuck which the Bible says is sin. It’s interesting that Paul added, and they are full of greed. Why would he say that? People who live for the impulses of the flesh, who are ingrained in sinful patterns, who don’t care about consequences, become greedy because sin is never satisfied. When you sin, your desire for sin grows and grows, and you want more and more of the sinful lifestyle to which you have opened the door. The phrase, “Girls gone wild,” or the notion that someone is “out of control” come to mind when I read Paul’s words.
But the life of Christ is a life controlled by morality, purity, and that which pleases God. It isn’t a life of sin with a continual lust for more. Listen, if Satan can keep people seeking pleasure, he can keep them from fulfilling their God-given purpose. The Holy Spirit has been sent to enable and empower us to do what God has planned for us, but people who aren’t consumed by the Spirit but who are consumed by an appetite for sin won’t accomplish such. That grieves the Spirit.
How about Paul’s words in verse 25? Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Lying and speaking poorly about other people aren’t compatible with the life of Christ. They keep the Spirit of God from having freedom to move in our lives. Telling the truth and speaking in a way that builds others up is a way the life of Jesus can be demonstrated in our lives. To lie and deceive and malign people is to grieve the Spirit of God.
I love the Apostle Paul’s straightforward manner here. He just lays it all out for us as we move on in verse 26ff: 26 “In your anger do not sin”[d]: 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. Skipping verse 30…31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
This stuff is grievous to the Holy Spirit. These attitudes and actions put a damper on the life of Christ in a person. Paul says, “Don’t live angry,” and yet our county is more triggered now than ever. Conversation is more heated now than ever. There is far more yelling than there is listening. There is far more divisive and hateful speech than there is peacemaking going on. Paul says, “Stop it because it grieves the Holy Spirit.” In fact, he said it gives the devil a foothold, a grasp, an entrance into your life.
Paul also said, “Don’t take what isn’t yours. Don’t take what you didn’t work for.” Stealing is wrong. It isn’t harmonious with the life of Jesus. You know whose life it is harmonious with? The Devil’s. That’s right. He is the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). So, the believer who thinks he can profess Christ and steal at the same time has a problem because I guarantee you that Jesus won’t be roommates with the devil.
Paul went on to say, “You need to work.” Work is a God-given blessing. Work enables us to learn about ourselves, to grow as people, to find satisfaction in productivity, but it has another component. Paul says, if you work you can share with other people. We have a Recruiter for Manpower, Caleb Turner, who says there are many jobs to be had, but there are many people who just don’t want to work. Listen, people who are consumed by the Spirit of God will want to work because in work we find the blessing of God and we gain a way to bless others. (Paul is obviously not talking to people who have a disability that makes it impossible to work. He is speaking to people who would rather steal, rather freeload than work.) It grieves the Holy Spirit.
Paul went on to tackle what comes out of our mouths. Crass talk. Crude talk. Swearing. Name calling. Do you know what that boils down to? Curses. Every time we use our tongues not for edification and love and life and blessing, we are sending out curses on people and their circumstances. Don’t believe me? The Word of God says that the power of life and death are in the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21) How can the Spirit of God move freely in the person who is using their tongue to place a curse on people? That approach is inconsistent with the life of Jesus. Remember, the Spirit’s role is to enable us to live out the life of Jesus.
Paul concluded his list of things that grieve the Holy Spirit in verse 31 when he said, 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.
The Holy Spirit helps us put to death the things that go against the life of Jesus. Jesus was compassionate. He was forgiving. We need to be consumed with and controlled by the Spirit of God so that the compassion and forgiveness of Jesus define our lives.
Ephesians 5:18 says, Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. You could replace wine with hundreds and thousands of words. It simply means, don’t be controlled by anything but the Spirit of God. Paul basically says here in Ephesians 4, Don’t allow things into your life that will dominate you emotionally, that will destroy your witness for Jesus and that will put you at odds with other people which will nullify the opportunity to share the life of Christ with them. That would grieve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cannot do His job in your life if you aren’t living with a consciousness that your life is meant to display the life of Christ. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. Let Him have His way in you.
So, we are converted by the Holy Spirit, and we gain the life of Christ. Then, we are consumed and controlled by the Holy Spirit so that the life of Christ can expand to the point where it is what is demonstrated and seen and seen by others.Finally, We need to cooperate with the person of the Holy Spirit.
Do you believe there are some places God wants to send you? Do you believe there are some assignments God wants you to complete? Do you believe there are some specific people you are meant to reach? In order to get those jobs done, you will need to have a submissive spirit, one that is open to the leading of the Spirit. People who are led by the Spirit give evidence, give testimony to the fact that, their will, has been crucified. They have died to their way and their desires and when the Spirit of God says, “Go here,” or “Go there,” and “Say this” or “Say that,” there is obedience.
This is where the adventure of the supernatural life takes off. This is where we enter into a partnership with Jesus that is other-worldly. This is the place where God communicates special knowledge and where you experience the power and wisdom of God flowing into and out of you for Kingdom purposes. This is the realm of miracles. This is where the life of Jesus truly takes over. There will be times you don’t even realize what you are doing…You won’t have the words or the boldness in a situation, but if you are cooperative with the Holy Spirit, He will take over and accomplish something profound, something phenomenal. We need to cooperate and not quench the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 7:51, Stephen accused a group of people of always resisting the Holy Spirit. In I Thessalonians 5:19, Paul told the believers there not to quench the Spirit. That’s how we know it is possible for the Spirit of God to be quenched. Paul told the Thessalonians to make sure it didn’t happen. If it wasn’t possible, he wouldn’t have told them to be sure not to quench the Spirit.
We need to listen for and pray to hear the Spirit speak. We know what the voice of the world sounds like. It is loud and invasive. Sometimes it can be harder to hear the Spirit speak to us. That’s why we have to be intentional about wanting to hear from God and about having a heart to obey once we do.
Listen, everyone wants God to speak to them until He tells them to do something they don’t feel like doing. Everyone wants a miracle until the cost of the miracle requires an act of faith or a sacrifice that calls them from their comfortable status quo. When you obey the Spirit the blessing you receive will far outweigh any inconvenience or awkward moment. I’m sure glad Paul obeyed the Spirit. I’m so thankful that Peter obeyed the Spirit. I am forever grateful that Stephen and other New Testament powerhouses obeyed the Spirit of God. Oh, how the church was birthed, and the Gospel was moved along by the obedience of men and women who weren’t afraid to cooperate with the Holy Spirit!
When the Holy Spirit speaks it is to provide direction or correction, and we need to respond obediently. (I also believe the Spirit speaks to give us encouragement and to bestow blessings on us, but I believe the primary messages are words of direction and correction.) It is to our advantage to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Ignoring the Holy Spirit grieves God.
I’ll be honest; I’ve preached some messages over the years that I knew were direct from Heaven. I sensed in profound ways that the Spirit of God was really dealing with people, and I just knew the altars would be two and three deep, with people standing in the aisles, but a handful of people came. In those moments, and some of them have happened in this building, I have found myself after the service, weeping in a classroom over what seemed to be a resistance to the Holy Spirit’s work.
Now, I’ve learned to leave the results up to God. My obedience to the Spirit won’t be measured by how many people respond on any Sunday. I have promised God to say everything He tells me to, and I don’t expect everyone to hit the altar every Sunday. But there are times when it is clear to me that there is a resistance to what God wants to do from believers and unbelievers alike. That sense has been confirmed to me over and over when people message me and say, “I knew I was supposed to come forward for prayer,” or “I knew I was supposed to respond to the message, today, but I didn’t.”
And to those of you who have had the truth about Jesus revealed to you by the Holy Spirit and are convicted about your sin by the Holy Spirit and are convinced by the Holy Spirit about the love of God and the forgiveness that is available to you, and who are moved by the Holy Spirit to lay down your life, but you grip the back of the seat in front of you and plant your feet in an act of willful disobedience to the drawing of the Spirit, in love I tell you that grieves the Spirit of God. When the Spirit is drawing, that is the time to obey. When the Spirit is leading, that is the moment to step out into whatever situation God is leading you to impact.
Have you been converted by the Spirit of God? Are you being consumed and controlled by the Spirit of God? Are you cooperating with the Spirit of God when He calls you, directs you, sends you or corrects you? Today’s bottom line is a bullseye, targeted, laser-focused admonition: Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.