How Christians grieve the Holy Spirit and mess up everything
I suspect you realize why it is unwise to “bite the hand that feeds you.” And yet that is exactly what we do as followers of Christ whenever we grieve the Holy Spirit by sinning, and what non-Christians do by rejecting Jesus. Sadly, such offensive behavior sure has a way of messing up everything.
When a non-Christians rejects the Messiah, it simply puts another nail in their coffin and brings them one step closer to an eternity of pain and separation from God. Hell is filled with people who grieved the Holy Spirit over and over again. The Lord would have saved their soul, but time and time again they refused to repent. In so doing, “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25).
But Christians are equally guilty of sin because we too grieve the one Person who can enable us to believe the Gospel, love God, follow Christ, and serve others with godly compassion. Without the Holy Spirit, none of those things would be possible. We would be helpless and hopeless, lost, dazed, and confused. We would have no clue how to be forgiven of our sins or how to please the Lord.
Thankfully, “God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5). So now what? Well, one thing is very clear. We were not saved so that we could go on deliberately sinning against the Lord. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2).
Christians face a variety of temptations regarding the use of our bodies, the meditation of our hearts, and the words we choose to utter. Since the Holy Spirit lives within every believer, it is essential that we diligently seek to please the Spirit rather than give into the desires of our sinful nature.
For example, Scripture instructs us: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
If you want to mess up everything in your walk with Christ, then engage in sexual immorality. Have sex outside of marriage. Fill your mind with sexual images and lustful thoughts. Give into temptation rather than resisting it. And commit the one sin that is against your own body, which is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, this is the opposite of what God calls us to do as followers of Christ.
Scripture also warns believers to be careful with the thoughts and attitudes that we choose to entertain. Paul wrote, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32).
When we violate any of these instructions for holy living, we grieve the Holy Spirit. Our mind comes under attack and the joy of the Lord greatly diminishes in our heart. We lose our peace. We become impatient and self-centered. We hold grudges, and we speak poorly about others.
All of these attitudes and behaviors flow from our sinful nature, (Romans 7:18) and all of them grieve the Holy Spirit. He is always pure, perfect, and gentle. When we push him away with our sins, our life of discipleship gets put on hold. We backslide, even if only for a matter of minutes until we confess our sins to God and turn away from them.
And of course, sometimes our sinful attitudes persist much longer than a few minutes. Is it any wonder that everyone who seeks to follow Christ finds our calling as believers so incredibly challenging? Sadly, some who begin the journey with Jesus decided to give up and once again pursue deliberate sin. Unbelief, of course, is the biggest sin because it prevents a person from being saved, redeemed, forgiven, born again, and justified. The Holy Spirit only indwells those who are trusting the Savior to forgive their sins, which in turn produces a heart that longs to do God’s will.
Everything gets messed up when non-Christians reject Christ, and when believers give into sinful desires and temptation. So, what is the solution for followers of Christ?
“Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” (Galatians 5:16-18).
Grieving the Holy Spirit messes up everything, whereas confessing our sins to the Lord and seeking to do his will is the path to peace and righteous living. The Holy Spirit leads everyone who is willing to be led. So, are you a follower of Christ? If not, would you like to be?
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.