Grieving the Spirit

Have you ever hurt the Holy Spirit?

I have been studying recently about our privilege and responsibility to host the presence of the Holy Spirit. Our entire lives are to be lived and immersed in the Holy Spirit. Paul stated that we live by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life” (John 6:63). We actually don’t live spiritually until the Spirit invades and infuses our souls with vitality. Jesus also said of the Spirit, “He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). Imagine that! The Spirit abides with us; He remains, hovers, and tabernacles on and in us. Life should never be boring, right?

Living in the Holy Spirit, however, requires intimacy, obedience, companionship, and most of all, an awareness of Him at all times. If the Holy Spirit is going to remain with us, it’s imperative that we become sensitive to Him. Life revolves around the Holy Spirit, not us. Think about the riveting question Paul asked in Galatians 3:3 to a group of Christians: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” I don’t want to treat the Holy Spirit in the same manner as did the Galatian believers who preferred their efforts above the Spirit.

Note this command in Ephesians 4:30, it says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Grieve (lupeo) means to hurt, abuse, distress or offend. We can actually hurt the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Do you realize that the Spirit is not merely a force or energy source? He certainly is not an “it”. The Holy Spirit is a person; the third person of the trinity. In John chapters 14-16, there are nineteen personal pronouns of “He” or “Him” referring to the Holy Spirit. He really is a person. Divine? Yes. Coequal with God, most certainly true, but He is a person with whom we are to walk in fellowship. With that being said, we are commanded not to grieve Him.

How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? The context of Ephesians 4:25-32 answers that question. We grieve the Holy Spirit the following ways:

  1. When we fail to speak the truth to others and give in to inauthenticity or deception (verse 25).
  2. When we allow anger to linger and it gives occasion to sin (verse 26).
  3. When we give the devil space in our lives or a foothold to influence us (verse 27).
  4. When we choose not to work and miss opportunities to generously pour into others with resources (verse 28).
  5. When we use our mouth to destroy people with barren, lifeless words and fail to edify and impart grace with our tongues (verse 29).
  6. When we allow offenses to fester and poison our attitudes, speech, and behavior (verse 31).
  7. When we don’t forgive others the same way Christ forgave us (verse 32).

Any of these practices are offensive and hurtful to the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the only way we could ever participate in those grieving activities is by resisting and rejecting the ongoing promptings of the Holy Spirit. He came, Jesus said, to guide us into all truth (see John 16:13). Therefore, we actually grieve the Spirit—who is called the Spirit of truth—by suppressing Him, a practice I might add that incurs the wrath of God (see Rom. 1:18).

The Holy Spirit can also be grieved by our thoughts, motives, and intentions. The Pharisees honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him (see Mark 7:6). The Holy Spirit functions beyond merely guiding our behavior. He looks inward and is very aware of attitudes that initially may not be observant to other people. He looks into our hearts and can see bigotry, arrogance, lust, anxiety, fear, or distractions. Jesus looked at Martha and perceived that she was “worried and bothered” about many things, in spite of the fact that she was in the midst of ministry (see Luke 10:41). On the outside, she appeared to be productive, but on the inside, she was in trouble. The Holy Spirit is always aware of the state of our hearts. While that fact may bring conviction to some, to others it is a comfort. There is no one who knows you better than the Holy Spirit; He is your Comforter (see John 14:16).

My encouragement to you is to live consciously aware of His presence and activity in your day to day lifestyle. Don’t allow anything into your life that would overshadow your affection for the Spirit. Remember, the most important thing that you will do is the next thing that He prompts you to do. So obey His guidance swiftly and promptly. Quiet your heart often in His presence and invite Him to speak. Learn to say only what He says. Pray what He gives you and give away what He’s doing. And if, during the speaking of His still small voice, you discover that you’ve grieved Him, then fall before the Holy Spirit in repentance. Brokenness and repentance create the posture that’s most attractive to the habitation of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s Pray

Dear God, teach us to walk by your Holy Spirit. Give us a greater sensitivity to the gentle ways in which you speak, guide, and move in our life. Let us know if we have grieved you, amen.

Rob McCorkle

Rob believes in the message of purity and power. In 2013, he completed his Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. His dissertation discusses the fusion of Word and Spirit in the Holiness movement with special emphasis on the supernatural gifts. Rob is the founder of Fire School Ministries, a ministry organization with the distinct purpose of re-digging the wells in the Holiness movement.