Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 4:30b (cont.) “. . .grieve not. . .”
Scripture specifies at least four ways in which believers and unbelievers can wrongly respond to the Holy Spirit. Believers can “grieve” the Spirit, cause Him emotional pain. If Christians persist in this behavior, they eventually can “quench” (1 TH 5:19) the Spirit, absolutely stifle His blessing and power. Unbelievers “resist the Holy Ghost” (AC 7:51) when they refuse to let Him enter their lives. If the lost resist Him for a lifetime, and never receive Him, they become guilty of “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” (MT 12:31), the unpardonable sin. There finally comes a time when saying “No” to the Spirit means “No” forever, and the Spirit comes no more.
There is a time, I know not when,
A place I know not where,
That marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.
There is a line by us unseen
That crosses every path,
The hidden boundary between
God’s mercy and God’s wrath. (W. A. Criswell)
Christians can grieve and quench the Spirit, the lost can resist and blaspheme Him. These four verbs all accent a prominent trait of the Spirit–sensitivity. He is exceedingly vulnerable, easily hurt. He is the gentle One, the One within the Trinity who most clearly manifests sheer tenderness. He is grace in action, mercy in motion, kindness moving and mobile. Delicate and soft, He assumed as a fitting symbol the form of a dove.
Unfortunately, this trait of soft gentleness within the godhead is a trait which men in our culture often overlook when defining “true masculinity.” God, presented in Scripture in masculine terms, is the ideal by which manliness is to be defined. Jesus was a man’s man. Taught the trade of a carpenter, he knew the meaning of manual labor. When necessary, He could be tough, as when He cleansed the temple. Jesus, who had the Spirit without measure, also knew how to bless little children, and women always felt comfortable around Him. He knew how to be strong; He knew how to be soft. Both are needed to be a good man, a good husband, a good father.
David at his best has ever been my ideal man. Strong and rowdy, he was able to slay with his own hands a lion and a bear, plus killed giants and Philistines. Yet he was mild and tender, a poet who wrote psalms. He was gentle with the lady Abigail, and a warm friend to Jonathan.
Do not overlook the gentle, precious traits of the Holy Spirit when defining total person-hood. We all, and in our culture especially men, could learn to emulate His tenderness.
Handle the sweet Dove of Heaven with care. In Judgment I fear we will be amazed at the multitude of times we were guilty of rudeness to the divine Tenderness within us. We must be ever mindful of Him. Often we hurt Him as a result of carelessness. “Sin is as easy as it is wicked” (Spurgeon). It might be an impure thought, an unkind word, a thoughtless gesture, or an uncaring deed, but whatever it is, the sensitive Spirit has to endure its pain. He deserves better, we owe Him better.
Eph. 4:30c “. . .the holy. . .”
The KJV is correct in not capitalizing “holy” here. The word is not used here as part of the Spirit’s official title, but added as an adjective to emphasize His nature. The Greek phrase literally reads, “Grieve not the Spirit, the holy One of God.” He who indwells us is holy. Holiness is the essence of His being. Thus, we can grieve Him not only by love wounded, but also by holiness offended. The holy One is hurt by what is unholy, grieved by anything contrary to the quality of His own purity. Holiness is always sensitive. Increasing purity ever results in increasing sensitivity.
Being holy, the Spirit labors in us to increase our holiness. He is at work. He has an assignment. He who will never leave us will also never leave off working on His assigned duty. His allotted task is to create holiness within us. We can try to hinder Him, but ultimately He will not be thwarted in this work of sanctification. The Spirit does not want to grab us by the hair of the head and lug us along. His desire is to “lead us,” not drag us, “in the paths of righteousness” (PS 23:3). However, if He has to, He will do whatever it takes to fulfill His duty. One thing which grieves Him is what He sometimes has to do to get us to cooperate. He has no joy when He has to bring pain into our lives in order to help us conform to the image of Jesus. The gentle Spirit does not wish to do this, but He will.
Putting self in the path of a bulldozer is dangerous, but mere child’s play compared to putting self in the way of predestination, election, providence, and sanctification. These big words have large meanings and cosmic significance. Do not try to impede their progress, or block their fulfillment. The holy Spirit in us intends to increase our holiness. Be wise. Cooperate.
Eph. 4:30d “. . .Spirit of God,. . .”
We believe in a triune God. At the baptism of the Son, the Father spoke, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove. Jesus commanded us to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (MT 28:19). Paul said, “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 C 6:19), and only divinity lives in temples. The Spirit is “God of very God.”
Why emphasize the Spirit’s divinity? Because we have not done Him justice in this regard. We often neglect to give Him the esteem we have for the Father and the Son. The Spirit is “the inmate of our hearts, the instructor of our reason, the strength of our will” (Pusey), and yet we often do not think of Him as God in us. Maybe our worst insult to Him is when we go about our lives, acting as if He who indwells us is not divine.
Our conceptions of the Spirit are often hazy and defective. To many He is a mysterious manifestation, a force, an emanation of divine influence. Christians often have a theological “black hole” (Hughes) in their understanding when it comes to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. In actual experience, we often “view the divine nature as a duality of Father and Son instead of a Trinity” (Hughes). This disregard for the Spirit is made even worse when we consider the role He plays in our salvation right now. . .
Eph. 4:30e “whereby ye are sealed. . .”
At our conversion, the Father seals us with the Spirit (see sermon on 1:13). The Spirit’s presence in us is our seal, the confirmation our salvation is a finished transaction. The Holy Spirit within us is the basis of our assurance and security. He is the One who applies the results of Calvary to us individually, and being the seal, is also the One who keeps us saved.
His presence makes it possible for the Christian to endure to the end, and makes it sure to happen. Here is security indeed. A seal is a seal. It would be meaningless for God to give us a seal if it could be broken and undone. Why have a seal in the first place if it can be nullified?
We are safe forever due to the Spirit. Can we know this and yet have the heart to grieve Him? As we dwell upon the assurance and security He provides, do we not have an overwhelming desire to walk away from our sins? We should yearn to walk in holiness out of sheer gratitude alone.
Anything deemed worthy of a seal obviously has inherent value to its owner. By sealing us, the Spirit certainly made a statement regarding how exceedingly valuable we are in His eyes. By the lives we live, for better or worse, we make a statement regarding how valuable He is in our eyes.
Eph. 4:30f “. . .unto the day of redemption.”
The Spirit’s presence in us proves the Son has bought us, and certifies the Father shall someday possess us one hundred percent. The Holy Spirit will not leave us. He is committed to indwelling us until the end, until our salvation is totally consummated on “the day of redemption.”
At Calvary Jesus redeemed us by purchasing salvation. He won the victory. Now we await “the redemption of the purchased possession” (1:14), the day when the full results of His redemption will be made obvious to all.
There is coming a day when believers will no longer have to be on guard against grieving the Spirit, when our every vestige of weakness and sin shall be removed. Every enemy will be crushed. Every knee shall bow before King Jesus.
We believers “groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (RM 8:23). We long for the day when our physical bodies shall be resurrected, transformed, and swallowed up into glorified bodies without spot or wrinkle. The Spirit will seal us until our bodies are redeemed, until every vestige of our old man is gone.
The Spirit is at work in our bodies fashioning them toward the perfection they shall possess when He presents them as flawless treasures to the Father. Since our bodies are a primary part of what the Spirit is securing for us, we commit treachery when we use them to grieve Him. May we not use as an instrument against Him the very thing He is working on in us to redeem.