Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians Sermon 30 of 54)
March 06, 2016 | Andrew Davis
Sanctification, The Holy Spirit, Adoption, Holiness, The Doctrine of the Trinity
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now, the earth was formless and empty and darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God, [the Spirit of God] was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, and God separated the light from the darkness and He called the light good.” Those are obviously very familiar verses, but many of us don't realize that they contain the first reference to the Holy Spirit of God in the Bible very early in Scripture. Now, I honestly don't know what the Holy Spirit of God was doing hovering over the waters of creation, but I know He was there. And I've learned since that time that my own salvation was like that moment of creation. I've learned that from 2 Corinthians 4:6, where it says, "For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
So God said, "Let there be light," and God spoke a light into my heart, 33 1/2 years ago. I remember distinctly, I was in a lab and I heard a voice telling me I was going to a college retreat that I had no interest in going to. I had been fighting, fighting the Gospel, I'd been fighting becoming a Christian, I didn't want to become a Christian. The next reference to the Spirit of God as I read it in the Bible is in Genesis 6, where God said, "My Spirit will not strive forever with man." And so in my case, the Spirit didn't strive with me forever, He won. He overcame.
And so, today, what I want to do is I want to give each one of you a greater estimation of how much you owe, if you're a Christian, how much you owe the Holy Spirit of God that you are a Christian. I want you to be able to sing not just, "Thank you, Jesus," but "Thank you, Spirit." Because I believe theologically, Jesus would mean nothing to you if it weren't for the Spirit of God. That Jesus would be remote and distant, or even you would even be hostile to Jesus, because it says, "The mind of the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot." And so, if it were not for the sovereign Spirit of God hovering over your darkened heart and ministering in a miraculous way the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, you would still be in darkness to this very day. And I believe you ought to say thank you to Him. I think you ought to appreciate Him, the person of the Holy Spirit of God.
As far as I can see, the next mention or illusion, not mention, but allusion of the Spirit, I see after the waters of the flood when the dove brought back that branch, that olive branch in his beak, and you have, in effect, the Spirit of God hovering over the waters of judgment and bringing back, I think pictured for us, bringing back to the elect a mention of salvation, of peace, of forgiveness with God. And that causes my mind to go ahead to the baptism of Jesus, different waters which Peter says, "Are likened to the waters of the flood." But likened for us, not waters of judgment, but waters of forgiveness and cleansing from wickedness and sin. And the Holy Spirit of God descends like a dove and remains on Jesus.
And so we come in Ephesians 4 that you just heard read in verse 30, to a mysterious text, a very deep, an infinitely deep text. Here we're going to ponder the mystery of the personhood, the personality of the third person of the Trinity, the personhood of the Holy Spirit of God. And my task today, I think, is to greatly increase your sense, your esteem of His personality. And let me just go even beyond it into where the text goes. That you would not grieve Him. That you would realize that sin is grievous to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, and that if we can put it this way, He takes it personally. And that this should be, amongst some other motivators, one of the greatest motivators you could ever have to live a holy life. That you do not want to grieve this tender loving powerful Spirit who has saved you by ministering Christ to you. Now, I don't understand fully the doctrine of the Trinity. To me, it's an infinite mystery. I don't think we'll ever understand it. But I think we should meditate on this text, and we should meditate on the deep theological truths that teach us about God from this, that we would understand the life that God has for us
The Indwelling Holy Spirit
Understanding the Flow of the Chapter
Now, we need to understand this in the flow in the context of the Book of Ephesians. And I see, is I look at at these six chapters, how they divide neatly into two main sections. Ephesians 1-3 gives us the theology of our salvation, how we should worship and praise God who “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight, and how God in love predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ. And how in Christ, we have redemption, forgiveness of sins through His shed blood.” That's the theology of our salvation, and how when we heard the word of truth, the Gospel of our salvation, having believed, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of God. And the unfolding of the theology of our salvation, so mystical and so deep and powerful in the first three chapters, that's what I see there.
And then in chapters 4-6 then, we have the theology of right Christian living, of ethics, of morality, of how then shall we live, based on the saving work of God in Christ. And that begins as we've noted again and again with chapter 4 verse 1, "As a prisoner for the Lord then, I urge you to live a life worthy of your calling." Your calling is to “be holy and blameless in His sight,” your calling is to Heaven. Live a life worthy of Heaven. And how He hasn't left us in the dark, wondering what that is. He's given us toward the end of Ephesians 4, a rhythm of sanctification in our lives, how we are to “no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 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. Having lost all sensitivity, they've given themselves over to sensuality, so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ, that way. Surely you heard Him and were taught in Him, in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the spirit of your minds. And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
So we have this rhythm, this basic rhythm of put off and be transformed in your mind and put off the old put on the new. And we've seen that in various case studies like lying, put off falsehood, and speak truth. Like anger, put off anger and then at the end of the chapter the text we just heard read, "Now instead put on forgiveness and tenderness and compassion toward others, and put off stealing, and instead labor and work hard with your hands so you can give to the needy." So this rhythm of put off and put on, it's a new life. We are in Christ now, a new creation, and we are to live a new life, an entirely new life, and evil speech, “put off all corrupting speech, all of the evil speech, that was part of the old life, and instead speak only those things to your neighbor that will edify them, and it will give grace to those who listen.” This is the rhythm, in the middle of the flow. In the middle of all of this, we have this statement about the Holy Spirit of God, Ephesians 4:30, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you are sealed for the Day of Redemption." And then moral issues, get rid of bitterness and rage and anger and brawling and slander, and be kind and compassionate and then sexual immorality, there should not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any of kind of impurity of greed. And obscene talk, all of these things, all of these ethical issues flowing. And the whole thing, verse 30, Ephesians 4:30 serves as a kind of a center. In some ways, both the culmination and the preface to everything that follows, it's all of that. The presence and the personality and the power of the Holy Spirit of God is the centerpiece of the beautiful virtuous Christian life.
That's what Paul is doing, and the capstone of this toward the end of this section is going to be in Ephesians 5:18 where it says, "Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery, instead be being filled with the Holy Spirit of God the Spirit." So only by understanding and yielding to and being empowered by the Holy Spirit of God will we be able to live out this virtuous life. Honestly, many moral people will follow us on many of these issues, on lying and stealing and language and topics like this, and caring for the poor and needy, there'll be a lot of moral non-Christians, but they will not live out their morality like we do by the power of the Spirit of God, for the pleasure of Almighty God. In that way, they are very different and so this is Christian morality, that's what makes this kind of morality different than any other type there is in the world.
The Culmination and the Preface of What Will Come
So now we come to in verse 30, the idea, the doctrine of the personality of the Holy Spirit of God, the personality, the personhood. The verse commands us not to grieve the Spirit of God. Do you see that? “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” Grief is a highly emotional state. It's a reaction we would think, it's an extreme word, it's not just sad, but grief. It's a reaction to, I would think of tragedy, something that somewhat ruptures your world. That's what we use the language of grief for. Usually I think associated with death in many cases. But this word theologically implies that we Christians are in a relationship with the Spirit of God, that is personal, He is a person, He can be grieved. Now, I must say it is hard for us to understand the Trinity. I mean the doctrine of the Trinity is an infinitely complex theology, a study of God. It's something beyond the ability that we have to comprehend.
We can understand, I think the natural mind, can understand one God, monotheism. We know that because there are many unregenerate people in the world who believe in one God and only one God. But this I think of unconverted Jews, Jews who have not embraced Jesus as Savior, believe in one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I think about Muslims, who believe that Allah is one God, they're monotheistic. So I don't think it takes any supernatural work to believe in one God, I think actually polytheism may be our home state in our rebellion against God. You look at the number of religions that have been throughout the history of humanity that have been polytheistic, I would say most of them have been. Hinduism is certainly polytheistic and animism and all of these religions, these things are polytheistic. So the idea of separate gods. Three gods, I mean that seems like a small number to a Hindu. But the idea of three separate gods, I think they would understand that, but we somehow mysteriously combine those doctrines, one God eternally existing in three persons.
We don't really even know how to think and talk, do we use the plural or the singular? Do we say He or They? We don't really know what to do, and so we go to the theologians and say, "Please teach me how to talk about God," and when they start using this kind of language and find they didn't get burned or stoned as heretics then we feel relieved and we're good and we'll follow these human theologians, and they say, "We can speak of separate," if you use that language, "Persons of the Trinity."
The Person of the Holy Spirit
Now, this battle for the doctrine of the Trinity has generally been fought on two main fronts, the first has to do with the deity of Jesus Christ. That's been battle one on the doctrine of the Trinity, that Jesus, the son of Mary, was also the Son of God. And that's essential to the doctrine of the Trinity. But the second battlefront, is on this issue today, the personhood or the personality of the Holy Spirit, the personality of the Holy Spirit. So, who or what is the Spirit of God? That's the issue that we're trying to understand, and we would say, who is the right way to ask that question. Is the Spirit an impersonal force unifying all living beings? Some capacity, some power that flows mindlessly like electricity or the wind, something you tap into that power, that impersonal power, that source, and you are energized in some mindless, impersonal way?
I'm going to date myself here, but in 1977, I went and saw Star Wars, when it was first out. I went the first week it was out, I never dreamed that, what 33 years later or more I would be seeing the 9th Star Wars movie. How many more will there be? Some of you will be able to tell me, I have no idea. But you know what exactly I'm talking about, one of the most famous lines in that movie as you remember was, "Use the Force, Luke," remember that? How Obi-Wan dead in some way, in the pantheistic weird universe where he was at, was able to speak into the fighter cockpit, and tell them to use the Force. “Use it.” And so it's like, what is the Force? So, we're educated according to Obi-Wan-Kenobi, I can't believe I'm saying these words, but anyway, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power, it's an energy field created by all living things, it surrounds us and penetrates us, it binds the universe together. Yoda, when training Luke, you're wondering how many more quotes, just one more. Yoda, when training Luke said, "My ally is the Force and a powerful ally it is, life creates it, makes it grow, its energy surrounds us, and binds us."
Well in that polytheistic, or better pantheistic world, the force is impersonal. It's something you use, it's something you learn about, you tap into. I guess it's not much different than wind or electricity. Electricity is mindless, it doesn't have anything against a person it electrocutes, it's just the natural force, there's no mind to it, no intentionality. Not so the Holy Spirit of God. Not so. How do you know that? This verse, this one, that I can grieve Him by my sin, that's how I know. He's not to be used. This is actually for me, what makes sanctification so powerful, is that sin is personal. “How could you do this to me? How could you do this to me, after I've done all of these things for you, how could you do this to me?” That's very powerful. It's a motivator for me. I don't want to grieve Him, who has been so good to me. That's the motivator.
The Bible doesn't teach morality as simple rules for right living. Like Poor Richard’s Almanack, “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Turn it around, you want to be healthy and wealthy and wise? Then go to bed early and get up early. It's impersonal, it's moralistic, that's a virtuous life. That's not what we're saying here. What we're saying is the best kind of life is a life that pleases God. A life in relationship with God, a life in which He expresses, "I'm pleased with you." Conversely, it's not a life in which He would say, "What you just did grieved me. Don't ever do that again." So, to me, that's very very powerful.
The Word Order
The word order here, the text literally says this, "Grieve not the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God." That's how it's written, it's very intensive, the structure of it, "Grieve not the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God", as if you're saying, "Do not grieve the Spirit even the Holy One of God in whom you have been sealed", that's what's mentioned here, at the end of the verse, "The Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the Day of Redemption."
The Sealing of the Holy Spirit
Now this “sealing” we've already looked at, in Ephesians 1:13 it says, to the Gentile converts there in Ephesus, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit." So, this sealing, as we discussed it at the time, is a mark of ownership, I think of authoritative ownership. It's God's way of saying, "You are mine, you belong to Me," it's a sense of authority, like the sealing of an official letter from a king with the signet ring of the king on the molten wax on the seal. And so you have been sealed, and the sealing is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This indwelling Spirit enters your life the moment that He works new life in you, the moment that He brings you to life, He enters you and seals you with a “Spirit of adoption.” It says in Romans 8:15-16, "By which you cry out Abba, Father." And so, that's the sealing of the Spirit. He's testifying to your spirit that you are a child of God. He ministers intimate knowledge about Jesus to you. The infinite dimensions of Jesus' love for you, that's been the Spirit's work in you. Remember how we went through four sermons at the end of Ephesians 3, and how Paul prayed that you “would have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide, and long, and high, and deep is the love of Christ, and that you would know that love that surpasses knowledge, that you would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Do you remember those words? It is the Holy Spirit's job to do that for you, to greatly expand your sense, the dimensions, your sense of the infinite dimensions of Jesus' love for you, that Spirit wants you to understand that about Jesus. How much He loves you, Jesus I mean, that's the Spirit's ministry.
Now, before the Spirit's work in you, or apart from the Spirit's work in you, you would be distant from the work of Christ crucified and resurrected. It would mean very little to you. It would be historically distant, it would be a dark, historical fact, like something you'd get on a test or something. It would be geographically and culturally remote, it's another place, another time, another era, nothing to do with me. And that's the essence of the way unbelievers live every day. “Jesus? What does Jesus have to do with me? He's a historical figure, distant from me.” Or if you started to educate yourself in the basic ideas of Christianity, you would become increasingly hostile to them, it would be something that you would be angry about, the ideas, the moral teachings of Jesus, the things He claimed, the statements He made about Judgment Day, and the wrath to come, and all of these things would stimulate within you a certain kind of enmity and hostility toward Jesus. How is it then that any of you and I, how is it that we have come to love Jesus? How is it that we have come now to survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, and we look up and we see wonder and glory and majesty, how did that happen? It was the Spirit that did that in you.
The Holy Spirit took redemption accomplished and then applied it to you. He painted the blood of Jesus on the doorstep and the lintels of your heart, He applied it to you directly. Without that, you'd still be lost, you'd be an outsider. It was by the Spirit that the Apostle Paul was able to say, "I have been crucified with Christ," Galatians 2:20. "And I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God," you know the rest don't you? "Who loved me and gave Himself for me." It's by the Spirit that we make it that intensely personal. Jesus loved me. Jesus died for me. That is the awesome, mysterious invisible hidden work of the Holy Spirit of God. He was hovering over your darkened heart in your unregenerate days. He was over the waters of turmoil, and then through the Father and the Son, He, the Spirit, spoke light into your heart. He the Spirit said, "Let there be light, the light of Christ in your heart." That's how it happened, and at that point, He gave you eyes to see, faith. He gave you the eyesight of the soul, the eyes of your heart were enlightened by the Spirit, He gives illumination, and you see Christ, and you were justified by faith, forgiven, adopted, all of that by the working of the Spirit. “You were sealed for the Day of Redemption.”
And so this mysterious third person in the Trinity, who you read more about in the Old Testament, the Spirit shows up, if we can use that language, in some key moments in the Old Testament on, key individuals. You see that, He comes on Moses and enables him to lead Israel through the Red Sea, and you see that same Spirit comes on the prophets, the Old Testament prophets, and enables them to look into the distant future, and write things that were going to come through centuries, even a millennia or more beyond when they live, they're able to write those things down by the Spirit of God. And the Spirit comes powerfully on key individual like Samson, the Spirit came powerfully on Samson and he tore that young lion limb from limb as one would tear up a young goat. The Spirit came on Samson powerfully. Spirit came on Saul and made him fit for kingship over Israel. The same Spirit came on David. But we see in the case of Saul and some others, the Spirit can come and go in the Old Testament. That's why when David sinned with Bathsheba, he was frantic in his prayer in Psalm 51, "Take not your Holy Spirit from me." He didn't want to lose the influences of the Holy Spirit of God and become insane like Saul became.
Well, in the New Covenant that will never happen. Amen? In the New Covenant we have the promise of the Holy Spirit of God. We see that in Acts chapter 2, "The people when they heard this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, 'Brothers what shall we do?' And he said, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise is for you and for your children,'" and listen to this "'all who are far off.'" The promise of the Holy Spirit, for those who are far off, far off geographically, far off in time. “For everyone whom the Lord our God will call.”
So I just thought this would be a good time as I was going over the sermon this morning, to just stop and say, is there anybody who came here today, unregenerate, lost? You're in darkness still? And you came here today? I hope that the Holy Spirit brought you here for such a moment as this, that you would understand that in Christ alone, there is forgiveness of sins, that Jesus is the Son of God, He shed His blood on the cross for sinners like you and me, and that the Spirit is able to take out your hardened heart, that is so filled with hostility and opposition to the things of God, and give you instead a sweet submissive yielded heart to the Gospel and you will believe in Jesus as your Savior, and trust in Him for the forgiveness of your sins. I prayed this morning that that would happen and even now I ask that the children of God that are listening to this, pray for any of your neighbors that are sitting in the pews here, that are lost, that they will come to faith in Christ. Because you cannot receive the gift of the Holy Spirit if you're unregenerate, you cannot receive the pouring out of the Spirit in a lost state, and that's what the Spirit does. This is the very promise made by the Lord Jesus Christ, He says this John 14, "I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever." Forever. He will not be taken from us. We don't have to faithlessly cry out, "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me," we know that the Spirit will never leave us or forsake us, He'll be with us forever, the Spirit of truth He's called. He'll be in you forever, and in that Spirit we were sealed. And that Spirit comes to every true child of God, not to the special ones or the extra above credit ones, etcetera. As a matter of fact, Romans 8:9 says, "If you do not have the Spirit of Christ you do not belong to Christ."
What Does it Mean to be Sealed Until the Day of Redemption?
Now, what does it mean in the text to be sealed until the Day of Redemption? Well, redemption, to be redeemed means to be bought with a price, to be bought with a price. We were slaves to sin, Christ paid the price of His precious blood to redeem us from sin. But here's the thing, apparently, because there's still this Day of Redemption yet to come, there is a fuller redemption that we don't have yet, and that spoken of in Romans 8 is the redemption of the body, the resurrection from the dead. And so the Day of Redemption is that future day, the end of the world, when all of God's people will be raised up in glorious resurrection bodies, and we are sealed temporarily, that sealing work of the Spirit is temporary, until we have been fully redeemed. And then we don't need that sealing anymore. We will be in intimate perfect fellowship with Father, Son and Spirit, face-to-face fellowship, no need for faith any longer, no need for the sealing testimony no longer that we're children of God, we'll be in His presence, glorious in resurrection. So that's what it means, sealed or redeemed, sealed until the Day of Redemption.
Deep Gratefulness to the Holy Spirit
So what does this mean for us? Well it means that we should have deep, powerful gratefulness to the Holy Spirit of God. We will spend eternity worshipping the triune God, we will worship Father, Son and Spirit. We will spend eternity particularly thanking each person of the Trinity for what they did for us. You will thank the Father for choosing you by name from before the foundation of the world and for sending His Son. And for crafting this entire redemption plan. You'll thank Him for that, and you'll certainly be able to say, "Thank you Jesus," as we sang earlier, to be able to thank Jesus for shedding His blood on the cross in your place, you'll be able to thank Him and say, "Thank you Jesus for saving me." But you will also thank the Spirit of God for taking the blood of Jesus and applying it to you personally, and for hanging with you through all of those years. That He never gave up on you, though you grieved Him many times, that He was so patient with you and He finished the work that He began in you, you'll be able to thank Him for that too.
I don't believe I can last a single day in Christ apart from the sovereign power of the Holy Spirit of God. I can't make it a single day. The world, the flesh, and the devil are too powerful for me, and so without His work in me, I would stop believing in Jesus. I would have continued in my sins the rest of my life, if it weren't for the Spirit's work. I would have continued to live a life of rebellion, caring nothing for Jesus at all, but the Spirit moved in me, and this is the unique ministry of the Spirit of God. In John 16:14, Jesus said these words, "He will glorify me." Think about that. The Spirit has come to glorify Jesus, and so, the Holy Spirit is always pointing to Jesus, always pointing to Jesus. Now, some go too far in this teaching, they say, "The Spirit never focuses attention on Himself, ever. Always deflecting to Jesus." That cannot be true. Why? Because how would you have a verse like Ephesians 4:30, that teaches us that sin grieves the Holy Spirit? As a matter of fact, how would you know anything about the Spirit of God at all, except the teaching ministry of the Spirit? So, apparently the Spirit wants you to know some things about Him.
And here's my whole approach on this sermon, if the Spirit can be grieved, He can be thanked, if the Spirit can be lied to, He can be talked to. And the Spirit is lied to in Acts Chapter 5 by Ananias and Sapphira, so He can be talked to. And so the Holy Spirit is here to glorify Jesus. Now you may say, "I don't understand the relationship between the Spirit and Jesus." Like in Romans 8:9 it says, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Is that different than the Holy Spirit? No, that's not different than the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has different names.
Do you remember that amazing moment before Jesus was crucified, do you remember when Philip said to him, "Lord show us the Father and that will be enough for us"? Do you remember that? You remember what Jesus said, "Don't you know me Philip?" Show us the Father. "Don't you know me? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." So, now I think you can take the same thing over and you say to the Spirit, "Show us Jesus," and He's going to say, "Don't you know me, after I've been in you all this time? Anyone who has interacted with me has interacted with Jesus." I think this is the only way we can make sense of how the resurrected Christ can say, "Surely I am with all of you always." Or as some folks say, "All y'all always." And you heard it here from me saying, "All y'all." I said I would never say it, but I just did. How Jesus can say, “I'll be with all y'all always.” How is that? By the Spirit. Anyone who has interacted with the Spirit has interacted with Jesus. Please don't quote me on that. I mean the last part yes, not the first part.
Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit of God
What Does it Mean to “Grieve” the Holy Spirit?
So what then does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. What grieves the Spirit? Well, the Holy Spirit, that's only one of His names, He's called the Counselor in other places. There are other, advocate, there are other names for Him. But the Holy Spirit is most common name, it's because He hates sin. He is set apart, He is light, and in Him there's no darkness at all, He calls on us to be holy because He is holy. And so when we try to consider what grieves Him, simply put, sin grieves Him. And so, the things we've been talking about in Ephesians, lying and stealing and selfishness in reference to the poor and needy, and corrupting speech and sexual immorality, and bitter divisions and factions and unforgiveness, those things grieve the Spirit of God. All of those things grieve the Spirit of God. The Spirit has called on us to follow Him. And what is He like? How do we understand Him? It's a mystery.
The Spirit is a Dove, a Wind, and a Fire
At Jesus' baptism, as I mentioned, the Holy Spirit descended as a dove and remained on Jesus. Now, when you think of a dove, what do you think of? I think of a gentleness and a purity. I have a picture of gentleness and purity. There are other pictures of God like a ravening eagle, that if you touch His young, He'll rip you to shreds, I think that's fine, but the picture that He wants to present first and foremost is the Lamb of God, Jesus, very gentle, and the dove of God, also very gentle. That's His presentation to us as sinners first and foremost. But that's not the only way He presents Himself, sometimes He presents Himself to us as a wind, a wind. Well, what kind of a wind? Well, also a fire, a wind and a fire, like at the day of Pentecost you remember? How there was a sound of a violent rushing wind, like a hurricane. Now no air was moving, there was no movement of air, but there was the sound of a violent hurricane wind, and then this fire came down, and not a raging fire like it would burn the house down, but like a surgical strike, fire that came to rest on each one individually, filling them with passion, with fire for the glory of God and of Christ. And the sound of the wind was so awesome and so overpowering that it assembled the crowd for the preaching of the Gospel. But then at another time, you remember when Elijah is running for his life and he goes to this holy mountain, Mount Horeb, and he's in this cave, you remember that? And he needs an encounter with God or he's done in his ministry, and God knew that. And so God appeared to him, but first there's the sound of a terrifying mighty wind that tore the mountain apart, but we are told that God was not in that powerful wind. And then there's this earthquake that shook the ground under His feet, but God wasn't in that, no, God instead was in this still small voice, the KJV gives us this, this gentle whisper.
And I tell you, the most of the time, that's how the Spirit's going to lead you. He will whisper to you, “Don't do that.” “Get up, have your quiet time.” Put that sin to death. And if you don't listen to that gentle, quiet Spirit, you're going to become increasingly hard of hearing, you won't hear it as much. And that is the essence of the grieving of the Holy Spirit of God, the increasing hardness of our heart when we don't listen to Him whispering holiness to us and whispering to witness to our co-worker and to make a phone call of encouragement to somebody, to use our spiritual gifts to give money to the poor and needy, to the church. They're these whispered moments and that's the power of the Spirit of God.
Grieving When the Spirit is Grieved
If the Spirit is Grieved, We Should Be
Now I believe that we should be grieved when the Spirit of God is grieved. It's a quarter of... I am not finishing this sermon. Is it okay if I preach on just one verse today? Is that alright? You have no choice, please nod and say, "Yeah that's fine," thank you. We'll get to the forgiveness part next week because I don't want to short change it in seven minutes. I guess what I want to say to you is this, when you grieve the Holy Spirit of God, you should be grieved too. You should be grieved too. And frequently or not, at least not at first, when we sin, we often go on happily playing like sheep going astray, we just keep on jumping and laughing and eating in the fields of sin, while He stays behind grieving over us. But the thing is, He's not passive and just wringing His hands grieving, He's going to go get you and bring you into grief. That's what He's going to do, He's going to go get you and bring you into a grieved state if you're a child of God. If He's rescuing you, that's what He's going to do. He won't give you over and let you play. He's going to go get you and bring you back and say, I want you now to feel what I felt when you did that or said that, or didn't do this or didn't say that. I want you to feel my grief.
It is the Work of the Spirit to Cause Us to Grieve With Him
Now, this is not incredibly popular, this idea, but it is true. The Spirit rescues us by making us weep for sin, when we've sinned. Think about when Peter denied Jesus, remember he denied him three times and then the rooster crowed, then Peter remembered, went outside and wept bitterly. Those are the steps, you remember you get away from the sin that you're doing, put a separation and you weep bitterly over what happened. I think we kind of skip it, we're like, "No I am forgiven, you know, the grace of God, grace abundant more than all," it's like don't do that, because it says in Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." It says in 2 Corinthian 7, "Godly sorrow brings repentance, it leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow produces death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you. What earnestness? What eagerness to clear yourself, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done?"
Godly Sorrow is Part of Repentance
So godly sorrow energizes, you don't languish in guilt, and lay back in a black pool of muck. You confess your sin, you grieve over it, you repent and you go kill it. That's what He's calling on you to do, because those who are led by the Spirit of God to mortify the deeds of the flesh, those are the children of God, and so that's what He's going to do, but He's going to call on you to grieve and I think we're just too hasty in this. Watson in his work on repentance said there's six elements of repentance: Sight of sin, sorrow for sin, confession of sin, shame for sin, hatred for sin and turning from sin. The second is, after you've seen it, grieve over it. Sorrow for sin. Watson said this, "It is to intentionally embitter your soul over it," and you do that by talking about it. “How could I do this to you? You told me not to do this, you told me to stay away from that, you told me not to sin in this particular area, and you have been so good to me and you have loved me and look what I have done.”
You have to be like Nathan to yourself. Remember God sent Nathan to convict David of his sin with Bathsheba and he spoke for Him, and told him this parable, drew him in and then nailed him with the words. "You are the man." And then he said, "Hear the Word of the Lord, I took you from following your father's sheep, and I gave you a Kingdom and if this had been too little, I would have given you more. How could you do this to me?" Talk that way to yourself, preach to yourself. So how could I do this to God, how could I do this to Jesus, how could I do this to the Spirit of God? So, it's not superficial, it's a holy agony. It's called in Scripture, a breaking of the heart, the sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart, a rending of the heart. Watson said this, "Sin breeds sorrow and sorrow kills sin," that's how it works.
In James 4, James is addressing worldly Christians who are immersing themselves in the world and they're adulterous spiritually and they don't know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God, and they don't understand how jealous that makes the Spirit of God inside them. And so, he calls on them to grieve and mourn and wail and change their laughter to mourning and their joy to gloom, and to humble themselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. Lift you up into what? Happiness, joy, restoration, forgiveness. “The work is done now, so move on. You're forgiven, I love you. We've got more life to live, we've got more battles to fight and let's move on.” But don't skip going down into the valley of darkness and grief with the Holy Spirit and let Him take you back up out of it, don't jump that and go straight over to happiness quickly by a light dealing with sin. When you grieve the Holy Spirit of God, you should be grieved too.
Alright, well next week I have no idea what we're going to do. I guess we're going to talk about the next verses, we're going to talk about forgiveness of sins. Maybe I'll combine it with the next sermon, maybe I'll have no idea what we're doing, maybe we'll do something from the Book of Jeremiah, I don't know, but for now, I would just urge you to meditate on this. What this did for me, it moved me to tears, probably four or five times of thankfulness to the person of the Spirit. It made me just want to say, “Thank you, Spirit for loving me.” And so I would urge the same to you. And it also made me zealous as I have never been before in this particular way to be a holy man. So close with me in prayer.
Father, thank you for the things we've learned today, thank you for the work of the Holy Spirit of God, who grieves over our sin, and who communicates that grief to us if we'll listen to Him. But who also communicates the joy as fruit of the Spirit, the joy and the peace and the forgiveness that comes from genuine faith in Christ and confession of sin. Oh God I pray that as never before, we would be a congregation that loves righteousness and hates wickedness, that grieves over sin, as the Holy Spirit of God does and fights it by the weapons of righteousness the Spirit gives. I pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.