Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit
April 28, 2019
It is amazing to know that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God, dwells in all of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:17; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16). Your own spirit or soul dwells in your body. And so does the Holy Spirit. He (not it) literally and really and truly dwells in you. The Holy Spirit dwells in you. This is amazing.
And the reason why he dwells in you is because he is a seal for you.
Imagine that you took warm liquid wax and poured a bit of it onto paper. And then imagine that you took a metal stamp with your name or your symbol engraved on it and pressed it into the wax before it cools and hardens. That’s a seal. Back then, in the time of Paul, people made seals in order to guarantee that their documents were truly theirs.
The Holy Spirit is a seal… for you. This means that he is a guarantee of your salvation from sin and death. He is a promise that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a down payment of your inheritance of eternal life and treasures in the new heavens and the new earth. He is a confirmation and an assurance of the fact that you are going to make it to the end. He is a commitment and a vow that Jesus will never let you go.
Praise the Lord! When Jesus comes back, when the day of redemption finally arrives, we will have the Holy Spirit as our seal for that day. Listen to God’s word from Ephesians 1:13-14. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
It is so heartwarming to realize that the Holy Spirit himself is our seal. Consider this. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs and seals of the covenant of grace. And they are wonderful. But we don’t say that the Holy Spirit is a seal of the covenant of grace. He is in a completely different category than baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We can see water. We can see the bread and the cup. And we are meant to see them. We cannot see the Holy Spirit. We are not meant to see the Holy Spirit. And while baptism and the Lord’s Supper as seals are made of created things, the Holy Spirit as a seal is not. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Triune God. He is not a sacrament. He is God. And it is so heartwarming to know that the Holy Spirit himself is our seal.
Brothers and sisters, all of this is love. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us is an act of love. The Holy Spirit being a guarantee and a promise for us is an act of love. This is true. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). But do you know what else is true? God shows his love for us in that while we still struggle with sin, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. God shows his love for us in that while we still have a long way to go in our sanctification, the Holy Spirit is our guarantee and promise for us. God shows his love for us in that while we still lack so much love and obedience for our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is our seal for the day of redemption. The Holy Spirit will not leave you. And his reason is love.
Now listen carefully. This is the command and the essence of today’s Scripture text. If the Holy Spirit is all of this for you, then how can you grieve him? If the Holy Spirit is all of this for you, then how can you sin? You ought not to sin. You ought not to grieve the Holy Spirit.
When we sin, the Holy Spirit laments in sorrow and sadness. This is utterly mysterious. But absolutely true. And the reason why the Holy Spirit is grieved when we sin is so simple. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we sin because we have been loved. Because we have been given the best thing in the whole universe: salvation in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we sin because Jesus died for us. Because we have a covenant relationship with him. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we sin because there is so much steadfast love and compassion and kindness and yet the magnitude of our gratitude does not reflect the magnitude of his grace.
Brothers and sisters, this is personal and serious. When you disobey a command of God, you are not just breaking a rule, you are breaking a heart. When we sin, we sin against a God who loves us. And while it is true that all of our sins are forgiven, that awesome gospel truth does not mean that God is indifferent to the sins that his children commit against him as he prepares them for the day of redemption. God does not delight in your sins. The Holy Spirit works in your life and prepares you for the day of redemption by teaching you and reminding you about Jesus (John 14:26), bearing witness to Jesus’ name (John 15:26), and declaring and glorifying our King (John 16:14). So when we sin, we are basically saying, “I don’t care about any of that stuff.” This is why the Holy Spirit is grieved when we sin.
Brothers and sisters, this verse is a wake up call. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and he is right there with us whenever we sin.
If you lie about other people, your listeners may not question what you say. But the Holy Spirit dwells in you. He knows your lies. And he questions what you say. If you lie, you grieve the Holy Spirit.
If you let the sun go down on our anger, you might think everything will be okay as long as you keep your anger inside of you and not blow up. But the Holy Spirit dwells in you. He is right there with your anger. And he knows that you just might be a murderer in your heart. If you let the sun go down on your anger, you grieve the Holy Spirit.
If you commit sexual sin, you grieve the Holy Spirit. If you dishonor your parents, you grieve the Holy Spirit. If you miss church on Sundays, you grieve the Holy Spirit. If you are a sluggard or a troublemaker, you grieve the Holy Spirit.
He dwells in you. He is with you. He sees everything that you think and and say and do. May this truth help you to have a proper fear of the Lord.
I would like to close now with three points of application.
First, brothers and sisters, let us continue to repent of our sins and continue to take off the old. May we see the danger and filthiness of our sins. And may we also see the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we see what we do in our lives and what the Holy Spirit does in our lives, may we grieve for and hate our sins and turn to God, purposing and endeavoring constantly to walk with him in all the ways of new obedience (Westminster Larger Catechism 76).
May we cry out as King David cried out in Psalm 51. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit (Psalm 51:1-2, 10-12).
Second, brothers and sisters, let us grow in the fear of the Lord. The fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in us should give us a good kind of fear and trembling. God works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Therefore, you are to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. The Holy Spirit is a huge part of your life. He dwells in you. He is that close to you. May you grow in the fear of the Lord.
Third and finally, brothers and sisters, be assured that you who are in Christ cannot lose your salvation. It is sad but true: we often do grieve the Holy Spirit. Perhaps some of you are grieving him right now. Repent of your sins. Grow in the fear of the Lord. And know that the Holy Spirit is your seal. And he is a seal that can never be broken, a seal that can never be melted away. So be assured. You might fall into grievous sins. You might incur God’s displeasure. You might abandon the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit will never abandon you. You might grieve the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit will never grieve you.
Come, Lord Jesus! Come back soon!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.