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What Does It Mean to Grieve the Holy Spirit?


In Ephesians 4:30, Paul wrote:  "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."  Now the Greek word here is "lupeo," which means "to cause pain," "to distress," "to be sad," "to become sorrowful," and "to grieve."  According to the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Greek-English lexicon (p. 481), they think the word means in this context, "vex, irritate, offend, insult."  So  then, how can we insult or offend the Holy Spirit?  Consider what Christ taught concerning insulting the Holy Spirit in Matt. 12:31-32:  "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.  And whoever says a word against the Son of man [Jesus] will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."  Now this leads to another question, of course:  Why does God regard insults against the Holy Spirit as worse than insults against Jesus?  Maybe that's because the Holy Spirit is the means by which saved Christians are granted eternal life conditionally.  The continued, conditional presence of the Holy Spirit is necessary for salvation (II Cor. 5:5).  Paul told us that (Col. 1:27) "Christ in you [is] the hope of glory [final salvation]." So then, if someone insults the means by which he or she would gain eternal life, there's no way for such a person to be saved.


Now Matthew Henry, the classic Bible commentator had an interesting and detailed explanation for Eph. 4:30.  He said that what grieves the Holy Spirit are all the unlawful, immoral activities that Paul had condemned in the immediately preceding verses in the same chapter.  In this case, the first word beginning verse 30, "And do not grieve . . ." implies a relationship with what was discussed earlier, that Paul now has an additional thought about why these immoral actions should be avoided.  Matthew Henry also observes that we can't make the Holy Spirit grieve in the way we can make other people grieve.  That's because God's emotions are far above our own, yet they still have some similarity to ours.  (This is technically known as "analogical predication.")  This doesn't prove that the Holy Spirit is a person who has a separate center of consciousness that's distinct from the Father and Son's, but rather that God is present everywhere in the universe by His Spirit.  After all, the Book of Revelation never describes the Holy Spirit in heaven as occupying a throne or standing near  the Father as Jesus does.  Instead, note that Jesus is present in us by His Spirit, as Col. 1:27 shows.  Furthermore, II Cor. 3:17 says, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."  So if Jesus is in us through us having the Spirit, then we're really grieving (or insulting) Jesus by engaging in these immoral actions mentioned earlier in Eph. 4.


Eric Snow



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May Christians work on Saturdays? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Protestant Rhetoric vs Sabbath Refuted.htm

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