Do Not Grieve Jehovah’s Holy Spirit
“Do not be grieving God’s holy spirit, with which you have been sealed.”—EPH. 4:30.
JEHOVAH has done something special for millions of people living in this troubled world. He has made it possible for them to draw close to him through his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. (John 6:44) You are one of these individuals if you have made a dedication to God and are carrying it out. As a person baptized in the name of the holy spirit, you have the duty to conduct yourself in harmony with that spirit.—Matt. 28:19.
2 We who ‘sow with a view to the spirit’ put on the new personality. (Gal. 6:8; Eph. 4:17-24) But the apostle Paul gives us counsel and warns us not to grieve God’s holy spirit. (Read Ephesians 4:25-32.) We will now take a close look at the apostle’s counsel. What did Paul mean when he spoke of grieving God’s spirit? How could anyone dedicated to Jehovah ever do such a thing? And how can we avoid grieving Jehovah’s spirit?
What Paul Meant
3 First of all, note Paul’s words recorded at Ephesians 4:30. He wrote: “Do not be grieving God’s holy spirit, with which you have been sealed for a day of releasing by ransom.” Paul did not want his beloved fellow believers to endanger their spirituality. It was with Jehovah’s spirit that they had been “sealed for a day of releasing by ransom.” God’s holy spirit was and still is a seal, or an advance “token of what is to come” for anointed integrity keepers. (2 Cor. 1:22) The seal signifies that they are God’s possession and are in line for heavenly life. Those finally sealed number 144,000.—Rev. 7:2-4.
4 Grieving the spirit can be the first step leading to the total loss of the influence of God’s active force in a Christian’s life. That this is possible is evident from what David said after he had sinned in connection with Bath-sheba. David repentantly begged Jehovah: “Do not throw me away from before your face; and your holy spirit O do not take away from me.” (Ps. 51:11) Only those anointed ones who prove “faithful even to death” will receive the “crown” of immortal life in heaven. (Rev. 2:10; 1 Cor. 15:53) Christians with an earthly hope also need holy spirit if they are to maintain integrity to God and receive his gift of life on the basis of faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice. (John 3:36; Rom. 5:8; 6:23) Hence, all of us must guard against grieving Jehovah’s holy spirit.
How Could a Christian Grieve the Spirit?
5 As dedicated Christians, we can avoid grieving the spirit. This is possible if we ‘keep on walking and living by spirit,’ for then we will not be overcome by wrong fleshly desires and will not manifest ungodly traits. (Gal. 5:16, 25, 26) But that could change. We could grieve God’s spirit to a degree by allowing ourselves to drift slowly, perhaps almost imperceptibly, toward conduct condemned in God’s spirit-inspired Word.
6 If we continually went contrary to the direction of holy spirit, we would be grieving it and Jehovah, the Source of that spirit. An examination of Ephesians 4:25-32 will show us how we should conduct ourselves, and it can help us to avoid grieving God’s spirit.
How to Avoid Grieving the Spirit
7 We must be truthful. According to Ephesians 4:25, Paul wrote: “Now that you have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are members belonging to one another.” Since we are united as “members belonging to one another,” we certainly should not be devious or deliberately try to mislead our fellow worshippers, for that is the same as lying to them. Any who were to persist in such a course would end up having no relationship with God.—Read Proverbs 3:32.
8 Deceitful words and actions could disrupt the unity of the congregation. Therefore, we should be like the trustworthy prophet Daniel, in whom others could find nothing corrupt. (Dan. 6:4) And we ought to bear in mind Paul’s counsel to Christians with a heavenly hope that each member of “the body of the Christ” belongs to all the others and needs to remain united with Jesus’ truthful anointed followers. (Eph. 4:11, 12) If we hope to live forever on the Paradise earth, we too must speak the truth, thereby contributing to the unity of our worldwide brotherhood.
9 We must oppose the Devil, giving him no opportunity to harm us spiritually. (Jas. 4:7) Holy spirit helps us to resist Satan. For instance, we can do so by guarding against unbridled rage. Paul wrote: “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.” (Eph. 4:26, 27) If we do become justifiably angry, an immediate silent prayer can help us to be “cool of spirit,” displaying self-control instead of acting in a way that could grieve God’s spirit. (Prov. 17:27) So let us not remain in a provoked state and give Satan a chance to induce us to do something evil. (Ps. 37:8, 9) One way to resist him is by settling disputes quickly in harmony with Jesus’ counsel.—Matt. 5:23, 24; 18:15-17.
10 We must not succumb to any temptation to steal or be dishonest. Regarding theft, Paul wrote: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.” (Eph. 4:28) If a dedicated Christian were to steal, he would actually ‘assail the name of God’ by bringing reproach on it. (Prov. 30:7-9) Even poverty does not justify theft. Those who love God and neighbor realize that stealing is never justified.—Mark 12:28-31.
11 Paul does not just mention what we should not do; he points out what we should do. If we are living and walking by holy spirit, we will work hard so that we can care for our family and also have “something to distribute to someone in need.” (1 Tim. 5:8) Jesus and his apostles set aside funds to help the poor, but the betrayer Judas Iscariot carried off some of the money. (John 12:4-6) He surely was not led by holy spirit. We who are guided by God’s spirit “conduct ourselves honestly in all things,” as Paul did. (Heb. 13:18) We thus avoid grieving Jehovah’s holy spirit.
Other Ways to Avoid Grieving the Spirit
12 We must guard our speech. Paul declared: “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers.” (Eph. 4:29) Again, the apostle does not merely say what we should not do; he tells us what we should be doing. Under the influence of God’s spirit, we will be moved to ‘say what is good for building up so that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers.’ Furthermore, we should not let a “rotten saying” come out of our mouth. The Greek word rendered “rotten” has been used to describe putrefying fruit, fish, or meat. Just as we are repulsed by such food, we hate speech that Jehovah considers bad.
13 Our speech should be decent, kind, “seasoned with salt.” (Col. 3:8-10; 4:6) People should be able to discern that we are different when they hear what we say. So let us help others by speaking what is “good for building up.” And may we feel as did the psalmist who sang: “Let the sayings of my mouth and the meditation of my heart become pleasurable before you, O Jehovah my Rock and my Redeemer.”—Ps. 19:14.
14 We must rid ourselves of bitterness, wrath, abusive speech, and all badness. After warning against grieving God’s spirit, Paul wrote: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all badness.” (Eph. 4:30, 31) As imperfect humans, all of us need to work hard to control our thoughts and actions. If we were to give free rein to “malicious bitterness and anger and wrath,” we would be grieving God’s spirit. The same is true if we kept score of wrongs committed against us, manifested a resentful attitude, and refused to become reconciled to the offender. If we even begin to ignore the Bible’s counsel, we might develop traits that could lead to sinning against the spirit and we might experience disastrous consequences.
15 We need to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. Paul wrote: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32) Even if we are deeply hurt by some wrong done to us, let us forgive, as God does. (Luke 11:4) Suppose a fellow believer has said something negative about us. In an effort to straighten matters out, we approach him. He expresses true sorrow and asks for forgiveness. We forgive him, but we need to do more. “You must not take vengeance nor have a grudge against the sons of your people,” says Leviticus 19:18, “and you must love your fellow as yourself. I am Jehovah.”
Vigilance Is Needed
16 Even in private, we could be tempted to do something displeasing to God. For instance, a brother may have been listening to questionable music. Eventually, his conscience becomes troubled because of ignoring Bible counsel presented in publications of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45) He may pray about this problem and may recall Paul’s words recorded at Ephesians 4:30. Firmly determined to do nothing that would grieve God’s spirit, he resolves to avoid questionable music from now on. Jehovah will bless the spirit the brother shows. Therefore, let us constantly guard against grieving God’s spirit.
17 Unless we are vigilant and prayerful, we could succumb to an unclean or wrong practice that would constitute a grieving of the spirit. Because the holy spirit produces qualities that are expressive of our heavenly Father’s personality, when we grieve it we grieve, or sadden, him—something we surely do not want to do. (Eph. 4:30, ftn.) First-century Jewish scribes sinfully ascribed Jesus’ miracles to Satan. (Read Mark 3:22-30.) Those enemies of Christ ‘blasphemed against the holy spirit’ and thus committed sin that was unforgivable. May we never end up that way!
18 Since we do not even want to come close to committing unforgivable sin, we need to remember what Paul said about not grieving the spirit. But what if we have erred seriously? If we have repented and have been helped by the elders, we can conclude that God has forgiven us and that we have not sinned against the holy spirit. With God’s help, we can also avoid grieving the spirit again in any way.
19 By means of his holy spirit, God furthers the love, joy, and unity of his people. (Ps. 133:1-3) Therefore, we should refrain from grieving the spirit because of engaging in harmful gossip or by saying things that would undermine respect for those who are spirit-appointed shepherds. (Acts 20:28; Jude 8) Instead, we ought to promote unity and respect for one another in the congregation. Surely, we should not encourage cliques by forming exclusive groups among God’s people. Paul wrote: “I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”—1 Cor. 1:10.
20 Jehovah is willing and able to help us avoid grieving his spirit. Let us continue to pray for holy spirit and be determined not to grieve it. May we keep “sowing with a view to the spirit,” earnestly seeking its guidance now and forever.
How Would You Answer?
• What does it mean to grieve God’s spirit?
• How might a person dedicated to Jehovah grieve his spirit?
• In what ways can we avoid grieving the holy spirit?
1. What has Jehovah done for millions of people, and what duty do they have?
2. What questions will we consider?
3. How would you explain what is meant by the words recorded at Ephesians 4:30?
4. Why is it important to avoid grieving God’s spirit?
5, 6. How could a Christian grieve Jehovah’s spirit?
7, 8. Explain why we must be truthful.
9. Why is it vital that we comply with Ephesians 4:26, 27?
10, 11. Why must we not steal or do what is dishonest?
12, 13. (a) As shown at Ephesians 4:29, what kind of speech should we avoid? (b) What should be the nature of our speech?
14. According to Ephesians 4:30, 31, we must rid ourselves of what?
15. If some wrong is done to us, what should we do?
16. Give an example showing that we may need to make adjustments so as not to grieve Jehovah’s spirit.
17. What could happen if we are not vigilant and prayerful?
18. How can we determine that we have not committed unforgivable sin?
19, 20. (a) What are some things we need to avoid? (b) We should be determined to do what?
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Settle disputes quickly
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Which fruit best illustrates your speech?