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Sermon #55 — Ephesians Sermons


Title:                           Grieve Not the Holy Spirit


Text:                            Ephesians 4:30

Subject:                     Grieving the Spirit

Date:                          Tuesday Evening — December 6, 2016

Readings:     Larry Brown and Mark Daniel



Turn with me to Ephesians 4:30. Here is a text of Scripture by which our lives should be motivated and ruled every hour of every day. Oh, for grace to wear it upon my heart everywhere I go, just as I wear this ring on my finger every day and everywhere I go, as a constant reminder of the one who put it there more than 47 years ago. — Ephesians 4:30.


(Ephesians 4:30) “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”


GRIEVE NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT.” — That is the title of my message. That is God’s message to me; and that is my message to you. — GRIEVE NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT.” — Those five words should be engraved upon the heart of every man, woman, and child who bears the name of Christ. Paul is admonishing us to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called” in Christ Jesus. He has shown us how we should endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Now he comes to enforce his exhortation with arguments drawn from the love and grace of God that we have experienced as believers.


His argument is this: — You should be careful to live in such a way that your lives promote Christian unity, because everything that hinders the unity of the Spirit and breaks the bond of peace among God’s children is grieving to “the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” I pray that God will enable me to speak with wisdom and power, so that those words may come to each of us as the very word of the living God, — “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.”


The fact that the Holy Spirit can be grieved is a very clear proof of this distinct personality. It would be a very difficult thing for us to imagine that a mere influence, or a mere spiritual emanation could be grieved. We can only grieve a person. In as much, then, as the Holy Spirit may be grieved, we see that he is a distinct personality of the sacred Trinity. Let us never rob him of the glory and honor which is his due. Ever worship and reverence him as God.


Our text also reveals the close connection between the Holy Spirit and the believer. If he is grieved by our shortcomings and sins, then certainly he must have a very tender and affectionate interest in us. C. H. Spurgeon said…


“He is not a God who reigns in solitary isolation, divided by a great gulf, but he, the blessed Spirit, comes into such near contact with us, takes such minute observations, feels such tender regards, that he can be grieved by our faults and follies.”


Although the word “grieve” is a painful one, there is honey in the rock. — It is an inexpressibly delightful thought that he who rules heaven and earth is the Creator of all things and the infinite, ever-blessed God, condescends to enter into such a tender relationship with his people that he can be grieved by our actions. What a marvel this is! God the Holy Ghost is grieved with the faults, failings, and foulness of our poor souls!


There is something very touching in this admonition. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” It does not say, “Do not make him angry.” A more tender term is used, “Grieve him not.” There are some men who are so hard and cruel that it causes them no pain to make another person angry. Indeed, there are many of us who are hardly touched when we know that another person is angry with us. But where is the heart so hard that it is not moved when we know that we are the source of another’s grief?


You see, grief is a sweet combination of anger and love. It is anger, but all the gall is removed. Love sweetens the anger, and turns the edge of it, not against the person, but against the offence. You all know how we use the terms differently. When I commit any offence, some friend who has but little patience, suddenly loses all forbearance and becomes angry with me. The same offence might be observed by a loving father; and he is grieved. There is anger in him; but his anger is against his son’s sin. He is angry and sins not. There is a deep love that neutralizes his anger; and he is grieved. Instead of wishing child ill as the punishment for sin, he looks upon the sin itself as the ill. He grieves to know that his child has injured himself by sin.


Perhaps you would care little that you made someone angry without cause. But to grieve another would cause you great distress of heart. When you have grieved a dear companion, or a loving parent, or a good friend, you cannot rest until you have done your best to take away the grief. When we see anger in one another, we immediately begin to feel hostility. Anger begets anger. Grief begets brokenness.


We have all experienced this. When you were a small child, and you did something wrong, if your mother or father beat you in anger, you became hostile and pouty. But, if you felt that they were deeply hurt and grieved, your heart was broken; and you sought to remove their grief by your own repentance. You see, grief produces pity; and pity is a very near kinsman to love. And we love those we have caused to grieve. Do you see what a sweet expression this is? — “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.”


Proposition: The blessed Spirit of God can be grieved only by sinners who are loved of God; and that fact ought to make us anxious never to grieve him.


Divisions: This evening I am going to raise four questions for your consideration. These questions should be of great concern to each of us. Please give me your careful attention. I am sure that the message of my text is one that each of us need to hear.

1.    Who is this blessed Person we are urged not to grieve?

2.    Why must we be so careful not to grieve him?

3.    How is the Holy Spirit grieved?

4.    What is the result of grieving the Holy Spirit of God?


The Person


1st — Who is this blessed Person we are urged not to grieve? “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” — This is an outstanding fact. — The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Triune Godhead, may be grieved by us. That loving, tender Spirit, who has taken it upon himself to quicken us from our death in sin, and to be the Sanctifier of our souls by that new life implanted in us, may be grieved.

Š      He is our Divine Instructor, Illuminator, and Comforter. He takes the things of Christ and shows them to us.

Š      He dwells in us. He guides by his power and presence. Yet, by us, he is grieved.

Š      He is life to our souls, dew to our graces, light to our minds, and comfort to our hearts. Yet, he may be grieved by us.

The heavenly Dove of peace may be disturbed. The Celestial Fire can be quenched. The Divine Wind is resisted. The blessed Paraclete is far too often treated with despite. So, the admonition comes with force — “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.”


I will not pause to prove that the Holy Spirit of God is one of the Persons of the sacred Trinity. To the child of God that is an evident truth. — “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7). The willfully ignorant unbeliever can never be convinced of such truth by all the logical arguments of the most learned orator. This is a truth given to men only by Divine revelation.


You and I know that the Holy Spirit is more than a mere influence, power, or emanation of God. He is himself the blessed God, equal in eternity, dignity, power, and glory with the Father and the Son.


Human Language — We know that the language of our text is speaks of God the Holy Spirit in human terms. God the Spirit does not know passion and suffering as we do. But he is described in human language, so that we can know his attitude toward us and toward our sin. We must never lose the comforting assurance that the Holy Spirit takes the same deep interest in us as loving parents take in a dear, but wayward child.

Š               This is a marvel of his free-grace.

Š      Many may be unmoved by that fact; but as for me, I cannot cease to adore him for it.


This loving grief of the Holy Spirit may be traced to his holy character and perfect attributes. — Sin everywhere must be displeasing to the Spirit of holiness; but sin in his own people is grievous to him.

Š      He would not be the Spirit of Truth if he could approve of that which is false in us.

Š      He would not be perfectly pure if he could approve of that which is impure in his people.

Š      We could not believe him to be holy if he did not grieve over our unholiness.


It is the very nature of his Holy Being to be vexed with sin. Everything which falls short of his own nature must be grievous to him. He helps our infirmities; but he grieves over our sin.


If Lot was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked from day to day, what must be the feeling of God the Holy Ghost, at the daily view of indwelling corruption, and out-breaking sin, in his redeemed ones?” — Robert Hawker


This grief of the Holy Spirit is an indication of his love for us.

Š      He grieves over our sins, because he knows what pain we bring upon ourselves by sin, and how much communion and joy we lose by our disobedience. Like a loving parent, he would keep us from this.

Š      He knows the backslider’s way, and the sorrow it will cause.


His grief is like that of a mother for her wrong-doing prodigal. She is not grieved for the pain he has caused her. She is grieved because she knows the pain that the prodigal’s way will bring upon her son. — “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee” (Jeremiah 2:19).


The Holy Spirit is grieved by the sins of his people for Christ’s sake.

Š      The Holy Spirit knows the value of the Savior’s blood, the cost of our redemption.

Š      He grieves when he sees that sin in us which is traitorous to the Savior’s love.

Š      He grieves when we forget our solemn obligations to our Lord and Master.

Š      He grieves over us when we undervalue and dishonor our blessed Redeemer by our sin, indifference, and unbelief, when we fail to cherish an glorify the One he was sent to glorify in us.


It seems evident from this fourth chapter of Ephesians that the Holy Spirit of God is grieved for the church’s sake. He knows how useful we might be if we would live up to our privileges. How he is grieved by lazy, indolent preachers. The Divine Comforter is grieved when God’s servants become slack and fail to comfort God’s people by the Gospel (Isaiah 40:1-2).

Š      We are sent as watchmen; but how little do we truly watch over the souls committed to our trust?

Š      We are sent to be messengers of God to perishing souls; but how little do we seek God’s message for the hour?

Š      We are sent to sow the good seed of the Gospel, but far too often we take up time of our hearers with meaningless banter.

Š      The Holy Spirit came to the earth to testify of Christ, and he is grieved when the churches do not hear that testimony of the Gospel of the glory of Christ sounded from their pulpits.


God the Holy Spirit is grieved with preachers who ought to labor in the Word and doctrine of Christ for the good of men’s souls, who waste their time on trifles! The cause of his grief is both in the pulpit and in the pew.


The Reason

2nd — My next question arises naturally from the text. We are admonished not to grieve the Holy Spirit, but — Why should we be so careful not to grieve him? Paul gives us the answer plainly. Here is the reason Paul gives why we should not grieve the blessed Holy Spirit of God. — By him “ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Those words imply much.


His Love


They, certainly, imply the Holy Spirit’s great love for us. — The very words of our text imply that we who are the children of God are the objects of his love. If we are truly persuaded that another person loves us, we are furnished with a powerful motive not to grieve him. Behold, therefore, the love of the blessed Spirit for you and do not grieve him.


The Holy Spirit’s love for us was very early. — The Spirit of God is one of those high contracting parties in the Covenant of Grace. The Father loved us. Therefore, he chose us to be his own. Christ loved us. Therefore, he assumed the responsibility of redeeming us by the sacrifice of himself. And the Holy Spirit loved us. Therefore, he took upon himself the task of giving us eternal life by virtue of Christ’s blood and righteousness. — All that may be said of the love of the Father and the Son is equally true of the love of the Spirit.

Š      His love for us is without beginning. It is eternal.

Š      He loves us infinitely and perfectly.

Š      The love of the Spirit for us, like that of the Father and the Son, is a sovereign, free, electing love.

Š      And his love for us is immutable love.


Let me tell you not only of the attributes of his love, but let me remind you of the many acts of love that the Holy Spirit has performed for us.

Š      We were placed in Christ in eternal election by the Holy Spirit. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Š      Even before we were converted, in the days of our youth, the Holy Spirit frequently rebuked our tender consciences.

Š      It was the Spirit of God who graciously brought us under the influence of the Gospel.

Š      Child of God, now that you have seen some of the wondrous mysteries of God’s love, do you not marvel at the mighty prevenient grace of the God the Holy Spirit — that grace that he exercised toward you long before you knew him?


Hear the Word of the Lord“Jude the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1).

Š      Frequently, he graciously kept you from a course of vice by which you would have destroyed yourself.

Š      Many of us are here, rather than in prison, or some worse place between here and the hell that we deserve, only because he powerfully hedged up our way of rebellion.

Š      We blasphemed the name of God, despised the righteousness of Christ, and stubbornly resisted the sweet wooing of the Spirit himself; but his love was never repelled. — “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can he floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 8:7).

Š      Can you not see how the Holy Spirit has even overruled your obstinate rebellion for your good?


Oh, wonder of wonders! Oh, grace of grace! God the Holy Spirit, out of his pure love for us and nothing else, has brought us safely and effectually to the time and place of our calling.


Others, who have not experienced what we have, might despise the free and sovereign grace of God the Holy Spirit. But we dare not. We must sing all our days….


Grace ‘tis a charming sound!

Harmonious to mine ears!

Heaven with the echo shall resound,

And all the earth shall hear.


Grace first contrived the way

To save rebellious man;

And all the steps that grace display,

Which drew the wondrous plan.


Grace first inscribed my name

In God’s eternal book;

‘Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,

Who all my sorrows took.


Grace led my roving feet

To tread the heavenly road:

And new supplies each hour I meet,

While pressing on to God.


Grace taught my soul to pray,

And made my eyes o’erflow;

‘Twas grace that kept me to this day,

And will not let me go.


Grace all the work shall crown,

Through everlasting days;

It lays in heaven the topmost stone,

And well deserves the praise.


Children of God, do not your hearts leap within you to remember that blessed hour when first the Holy Spirit led you to Calvary and revealed Christ as your Substitute?

Š      He sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, by the revelation of Christ in us (Romans 5:6-11).

Š      He gives us faith in Christ, as the Spirit of Adoption (Galatians 4:4-5).


Here is another marvel of his love, he comes to our souls and teaches us the things of Christ, for our Comfort. The wonderful consolation of the Holy Spirit is a marvelous manifestation of his great love.

Š      Sovereignty!

Š      Substitution!

Š      Satisfaction!

Š      Spiritual Union!

Š               He heals your broken heart.

Š               He keeps you in the hour of temptation.

Š               He revives your languishing spirit.

Š               He strengthens your hesitant faith.

Š               He graciously helps you in prayer.


“Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).


Here is one more token of the Holy Spirit’s love for us that I dare not fail to mention. — God the Holy Spirit dwells in us! He is our constant, most intimate companion! He dwells in and is the relentless companion of fickle, frail, faltering, falling, sinful men and women like you and me!


His Sealing


Let me never grieve one who loves me so! But there is another reason which should strongly restrain us from grieving the Holy Spirit. —— By him we are “sealed unto the day of redemption.” The Holy Spirit is the seal of the New Covenant. — “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:23). “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). — This sealing of the Holy Spirit has a fourfold purpose.

Š      It is a seal of attestation. Hereby we are confirmed as the sons of God. — “Circumcision made without hands!

Š      It is a seal of appropriation. When God sends forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father, he lays claim to his purchased possession.

Š      It is a seal of assurance. If we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, we are assured that the promise of eternal glory is ours.

Š      It is a seal of preservation. The presence of the Holy Spirit in us is that which preserves us safe and secure “unto the day of redemption.”


Day of Redemption


(Ephesians 4:30) “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”


All who are born again by the Spirit of God are sealed by him unto the day of redemption. What is this “day of redemption?”


The day of death, for believers, is the day of redemption. In the hour of death God’s elect are delivered from the encumbrance of the body. In that day, we shall be delivered…

Š      from our present state of exile and banishment;

Š      from the body of sin and death;

Š      from all sorrows and afflictions;

Š      from the reproaches and persecutions of men;

Š      from the temptations of Satan;

Š      from all sin and shame;

Š      from all our doubts, fears, and unbelief;

Š      and from all fear of death, corporeal, spiritual, and eternal!


Oh, what a day of redemption the day of the resurrection will be for Christ’s redeemed!

Š      Our bodies will be redeemed from mortality, corruption, weakness, and dishonour.

Š      This body will be refined and spiritualized, so that it will not stand in need of natural sustenance.

Š      This body will be suited and fit for that everlasting glory awaiting us!


And our Lord Jesus tells us that the day of redemption is the Day of Judgment in Luke 21:28. It is that day when Christ shall appear in glory, and all his saints with him. At that great day, he will put us (body, soul, and spirit) into the possession of everlasting blessedness.

Š      Perfect Communion with Christ!

Š      Perfect Commitment to Christ!

Š      Perfect Conformity to Christ!


The Grieving


3rdHow is the Holy Spirit grieved? I am now speaking of those who are truly born-again, those who love the Lord Jesus Christ. The holiness, justice, and wrath of our God is incensed against the wicked. But, with us, he is grieved. The Spirit of God is in your heart; and it is very easy to grieve him. Sin is as easy as it is wicked. And the Holy Spirit is grieved by our sin.


The Holy Spirit is grieved when we put his work in the place of Christ’s. Today there are many who so exalt the work of the Holy Spirit that they diminish the honor and glory of Christ, whom the Holy Spirit was sent to magnify. The Spirit of Christ always gives Christ the pre-eminence. Let us ever be careful to honor the Divine Spirit. The way to honor him is to honor Christ.

Š      Do not seek after the tongues of angels; but seek a tongue to speak of Christ’s glory.

Š      Do not seek the gifts of miracles; but seek the miracle of Christ’s righteousness. — Redemption! — Regeneration!

Š      Do not seek fanciful dreams and visions; but seek a vision of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.


God the Holy Ghost is the holy, pure, immaculate, unspotted Spirit of God; and he is grieved with sin.

Š      Our Carnal Lusts

Š      Our Covetousness

Š      Our Corrupt Communication

Š      Our Callousness toward One Another — The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Peace. He is grieved by anything that brings discord and carnal divisions to the church of Christ. — All bitterness, wrath, anger, quarrelling, and malice are contrary to him. — Gossip, slander, and evil words drive him from us.

Š      Our Coldness and Indifference to Our Dear Savior — The Holy Spirit is grieved whenever a child of God forgets the Lord Jesus, and by indulgence in any sin, loses sight of those sufferings which he endured for sin? Yes, God the Holy Ghost is grieved, communion with God the Father is interrupted, and all the agonies and bloody sweat of the Lord Jesus Christ are forgotten when sin is indulged.


The Holy Spirit is grieved by that base ingratitude that keeps God’s people from worshipping God (Song 5:1-8; Revelation 3:20).

Š      It is vile ingratitude that keeps us from prayer.

Š      Only a thankless heart can neglect the sacred volume of Scripture, which the Holy Spirit has given us.

Š      Only contempt for Christ keeps us from the assembly of his saints (Matthew 18:20).


The Holy Spirit is greatly grieved by our unbelief. Nothing could be more grievous to the Spirit of Truth than the fact that we so frequently question his truthfulness. — How dare we ever doubt God?

Š      Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!

Š      I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee!

Š      No evil shall happen to the just!


Perhaps that which grieves the Spirit of God more often and more cruelly than anything else is our pride.

Š      We are such foolishly proud creatures that we even become proud of God’s mercies to us. Some of us are so full of this venom of the serpent that when God is pleased to slightly use us, our heads get so elated that we are sure soon to fall.

Š      I assure you that God will abase all those who exalt themselves. He knows how to unhorse the proud Pharisee.

Š      Let us boast only in the Lord. — “My soul shall make her boast in the Lord, the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” — “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” — “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Lamentations 9:23-24).


The Consequence


4thWhat is the result of grieving the Holy Spirit of God? I know that this grieving of the Holy Spirit will never end in the destruction of God’s children. No heir of heaven can perish, neither will the Holy Spirit be taken from him. But, if we are God’s children, he will not allow us to persist in grieving him.

Š      Song of Solomon

Š      David (Psalm 32:1-5; Psalm 51) — “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation!


(Isaiah 54:7-10) “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. (8) In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. (9) For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. (10) For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee”


(Jeremiah 2:19) “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.”


Oh, what misery we bring upon ourselves when we grieve the loving, heavenly Dove!


What peaceful hours I once enjoyed,

How sweet their memory still!

But they have left an aching void,

The world can never fill.


Return, O Sacred Dove, return,

Sweet messenger of rest;

I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,

And drove Thee from my breast.


The dearest idol I have known,

What’er that idol be,

Help me to tear it from its throne,

And worship only Thee.




Oh, how God must love us! — Would the infinite God grieve for me? Can it be possible that a poor worm of the earth, such as I am, should excite such regard and attention from the Almighty? The very thought of it should have constant power over us. Should it not?


Shall I grieve the Holy Spirit of God? Shall I quench those sweet influences which first quickened me? Shall we recompense the kindness which called us from death to life and formed Christ in us by grieving him? Had he left us alone, we would to this day be dead in trespasses and sins!


(Hosea 14:1-2) “O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. (2) Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.”


Spirit of God, let me never become anything more than a prodigal coming home to my God!


Oh, holy, blessed, gracious Lord God! Withdraw not, your restraining influences from me! Leave me not for a moment to myself! I know, and you know that I will grieve you, if unassisted by your grace. Self-will and confidence, sloth and forgetfulness, pride and presumption, lust and lasciviousness are my nature. Sin is all I am. And sin is all I can do! And the same is true of you.


Except the Lord keep us, we shall not be kept from any evil! But, oh, our gracious God, if you keep us, we are well kept! — O Holy Spirit of God…

Š      Ever lead us to our all-precious, all-glorious, all-merciful Christ!

Š      Ever sprinkle our hearts with his precious blood!

Š      Keep us always in Gethsemane, always at Calvary, always at the Throne of Grace!

Š      We cannot mortify the deeds of the body and live unto God; but you can mortify the deeds of the body in us! You can make us live unto God! — Do it, for Christ’s sake!


(2 Corinthians 13:14) “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”








Don Fortner








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