Grieving the Holy Spirit of God
(Eph 4:29-32 NASB) Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Did you catch that? You can actually “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” What, exactly, is Paul, while being led by the Holy Spirit of God, talking about?
First of all, look at what the Holy spirit of God has done for us. He has “sealed” us “for the day of redemption.” To understand more about what this means to us, consider 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”
The word that is translated “sealed” literally means, “to seal up, to close and make fast with a seal, or signet (as with books and letters, etc.) that they not be read. It is also used as setting a mark on anything, or a seal, to denote that it is genuine, authentic, or approved.” It is this latter definition that more closely applies.
Consider Revelation 7:3, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”
The Holy Spirit of God has sealed us for the day of redemption. Therefore, we certainly do not want to grieve Him. Paul is instructing us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. But this we obey…..not out of fear, but love.
So, we must ask, “How can I be guilty of grieving the Holy Spirit of God?” The answer is in the passage noted above. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” And, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other…” Too many times this seems impossible. I can’t control my feelings, or reactions, after I have been wronged. Or can I?
The Definition of Anger
In Ephesians 4:30-32 the Bible states, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Paul tells us not to “grieve the Holy Spirit” through anger. The word grieve means “to pain, to hurt, to cause sorrow”. When the Christian allows anger and bitterness to infect his life, God is hurt. The indwelling Holy Spirit is affected by the attitude of the Christian.
In the statement found in Ephesians 4:30-32, we have five words that embrace the concept of anger. Paul gave us several definitions or expressions of the attitude that hurts God, the Holy Spirit.
The first word that he used is bitterness. The Greek word is “piknia,” which means resentfulness or harshness. The attitude of bitterness attitude defeats many people. Resentfulness only affects the one who carries the resentment. It always results in unhappiness. The resentful heart is the unhappy heart. The second word used by Paul in this context is “wrath.” The Greek word is “thumos,” and it brings to mind a sudden burst of anger. This is the type of anger that just as quickly subsides. The third Greek word used by the apostle Paul is “anger.” The Greek word is “arge,” This word describes “anger that continually boils and has its end in revenge.”
Next Paul used the word “clamor.” “Krauge,” the Greek word, indicates an expression used by Paul in this context as speaking evil.
The Greek word “blasphemica” refers to slanderous speech (“slander”) that has as its purpose personal injury. All of these Greek words —– piknia, thumos, arge, and krauge —– are expressions of one’s attitude. We can call it one’s anger attitude.
The Cure for the Anger Attitude
Paul tells us the cure for the anger attitude, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
One might ask, “How is that possible? If I have been hurt, or wronged, I can’t control how I feel.” But, that is obviously false. God never requires of us what we cannot fulfill. Many times we make excuses for not obeying God by saying we “can’t” do what He requires. You can, and you must.
Some might ask, “Can you forgive the unrepentant?” (Consider Jesus’ and Stephen’s last requests before they died.) see Acts 7:60; Luke 23:34
Bitterness, wrath, clamor, anger, and slander defeats the Christian. They may be brought on by events, but our attitude will determine whether or not we remain defeated. Those who allow themselves to live with these attitude weaknesses will die that way. Those whose lives are filled with resentments will live lives where joy is absent and Satan is able to keep his foot on the necks of those persons.
When we replace the anger attitude with forgiveness, we are saving our bodies from ulcers, heart attacks, colitis, toxic goiters, high blood pressure, and numerous other diseases. Anger leads to despair as well as physical destruction. Anger not only puts us into a state of depression and shortens our lives, but it can also cost us our eternal salvation. Can you think of any good reason to cling to our anger attitude as many do?
What does Paul say that we should do with these same attitudes in Colossians 3:8? “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” The anger attitude, said Paul, is like old clothes that must be thrown into the garbage dump and burned.
If we live by anger, we pay a heavy price in the spiritual realm. As previously stated, anger grieves the Holy Spirit. Any time that we grieve the Spirit, our lives are outside the will of God; thus, no good can come from that relationship.
Anger entices us to sin, and it has the power to continue to lead us into more sin. When anger rules our hearts, there is no end to the spiritual chaos that can come into our lives.
The Deliverance from Anger
(Eph 4:32 NASB) And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. This is the “road map” that Paul gives us, that will deliver us from anger. The key to deliverance from anger comes with the knowledge that God has forgiven us of all our sins, and he gives us the strength to forgive those who have wronged us.
We are keenly aware of personal insults and injury. Every time we are insulted or persecuted, we should view the experience in two ways. First, we should see the experience as a means to grow in God’s grace (James 1). How can we grow in love and forgiveness if our lives are not put to the test? Secondly, we should view each experience as an opportunity. An opportunity to prove to ourselves, God, and every onlooker what we are. Are we truly followers of Christ; wanting to please Him because we love Him? Or are we merely following Him for “the loaves and the fishes?” (see John 6:26)
What is your attitude? Are you angry, bitter, resentful? If you are, then we both know that you are defeated and having a difficult time in life. How tragic it is that we justify our anger by calling it righteous indignation. Ninety-nine percent of the time, righteous indignation is nothing more than sinful anger. Anger will only make us sick in every area of our lives. We must confess our anger to God, repent of this sin, and ask God to forgive us. We should also ask Him to help us overcome this fault and to put in its place the attitude of forgiveness. This is the only way to live healthfully, successfully, and righteously.
Dr. William Sadler, in his book The Practice of Psychiatry, has made the following observation:
No one can appreciate so fully as a doctor the amazingly large percentage of human disease and suffering which is directly traceable to worry, fear, conflict . . . unwholesome thinking, and unclean living. The SINCERE acceptance of the principles and teachings of Christ with respect to the life of mental peace and joy, the life of unselfish thought and clean living, would, at once, wipe out more than half the difficulties, diseases, and sorrows of the human race. In other words, more than one half of the prophylactic power of actually giving up the personal and practical spirit of the real teachings of Jesus. The teachings of Jesus applied to our modern civilization —– understandably applied, not merely nominally accepted —– would so purify, uplift, and vitalize as that the race would immediately stand out as a new order of beings, possessing superior mental power and increased moral force. Irrespective of the future reward of living, laying aside all discussions of future life, it would pay any man or woman to live the Christ-life just for the mental and moral rewards it affords here in this present world. Some day man may awake to the fact that the teachings of Christ are potent and powerful in preventing and curing disease. Some day our boasted improvement may indeed catch up with the teachings of this man of Galilee.
It is amazing that, in our day, many in the scientific community are accepting the full teachings of Jesus Christ and holy Scripture. May we each have the same foresight. The way of victorious living is before us. We can win the battle over Satan with God’s help. But we must have the right attitude —– the attitude of forgiveness—-life will be an adventure in peaceful and joyful living. Let the Word of God open our minds to the attitude of forgiveness.
Ephesians 4:25-32, Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH, EACH ONE of you, WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
By David Beck
From Expository Files 4.7; July 1997