Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Eph. 4:30
In this text of the Bible, we can take it that it is possible for Christians to grieve the Holy Spirit. This implies that the Holy Spirit is a moral being, and consequently, he has the susceptibilities and feelings of a moral being, and must therefore be grieved with whatever is naturally grievous to a moral being. Moreover, the entire character of the Holy Spirit is love or benevolence, and therefore he cannot but be grieved with whatever is wrong.
In the Bible, we can see that the major purpose of the Holy Spirit is to sanctify the souls of men. Men are to be saved by “the sanctification of the Spirit through the belief of the truth.” The Holy Spirit can sanctify men only with the truth. Sanctification is holiness. Holiness is voluntary obedience to God. Voluntary obedience certainly cannot be produced but by the influence of the truth. Hence Christ prays, “Sanctify them through thy truth.” The Holy Spirit himself has no other means of sanctifying the soul but truth.
Christians like every moral agent can resist any and every truth. Moral agency implies a power to resist any degree of motive that may be brought to bear upon the mind. Wherever force begins, moral agency ends. Were it possible for motive to force the mind, the forced action would have no moral character any more than the operations of the physical universe. Action must be free to be a moral action. A necessary action is, therefore, neither virtuous nor vicious. This is what is known as the law of nature.
Thus men are able to resist the utmost influence that the truth can exert upon them; and therefore have the ability to defeat the wisest, most benevolent, and most powerful exertions which the Holy Spirit can make to affect their sanctification. Whatever, therefore, hinders the truth from producing its sanctifying effect, grieves the Holy Spirit just in proportion to his desire to have it produce that effect.
How we grieve the Holy Spirit
1. By neglecting the truth: Human beings are free moral agents. They can choose to do as they please. If they will not attend to the truth they cannot be sanctified nor saved. How long do you focus your thoughts on other things except for that truth, which is infinitely important to you and wholly indispensable to your salvation?
God speaks to us in this end-time through the Scripture. The voice of the Scripture is always loud as we go about in the neglect of it, at one time wooing and beseeching us in the melting accents of eternal love to search it, to be instructed by it, and be saved and at another time it mutters, as we pass through the room where it is, its curses against us for neglecting it, or perhaps it cries out to us from some corner of the house, in the language of warning, and expostulation; and yet we heed it not! This attitude would certainly grieve and afflict us if we should write letters of great importance to some beloved friend of ours, and he should neglect to read and understand them.
2. Levity of mind, and conduct, and conversation: Levity of conduct would certainly be very unbecoming in the presence of an earthly judge or sovereign. And how much less tolerable is it in the presence of the infinitely holy God? Are you a trifler? And about what are you trifling and in whose presence or under what circumstances? Few things in the universe can appear more shocking to one who has any faith in God than to see a human being whose eternal destiny hangs as upon a moment’s point, filled with levity right under the searching gaze of his omniscient judge.
Thus levity of mind, conduct, and conversation grieve the Holy Spirit. Especially in such circumstance as when the Holy Spirit is wooing and beseeching, and following someone towards the depths of hell, and pleading with constant and earnest importunity that such a fellow will turn and live! How can he and how dare he trifles? Would it not be shocking to see an individual, on trial for his life, trifle just as the judge was about to pronounce a sentence upon him?
3. The reading of the light and trifling publications: If someone should spend an hour in defiling his mind with some vain novel or foolish story when so much truth of infinite weight and importance urges his investigation and instant attention, would the Holy Spirit not be grieved? Can Jesus Christ, eternal life and death, can the glory of God and the salvation of the souls of men, can the commandments of God be solemnly weighed, can the blood, and groans, and mercy of Calvary be duly considered, when novels and plays and frivolous reading have gotten possession of the mind?
Every sinner, no matter their status in life and in the church is a miserable sinner before God, and the law of their own conscience, if they spend their time in such reading. What have you there? A host of triflers and blasphemers of God, and despisers of the Holy Ghost. Are these your companions? these the spirits with whom you commune? this the way in which you spend your time? And you a professor of religion? Do you not know that you are a great hypocrite to neglect your Bible and communion with the Holy Spirit, and give your mind up to communion with such earthly, sensual, and devilish works as these?