“And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”
Ephesians 4:30 NLT
Is it possible to grieve, or make sorrowful, the Holy Spirit? As Christians, when we were saved by our acceptance of Jesus, His sacrifice at Calvary and repentance of our sins, we received the Holy Spirit and His power. To some it has been an amazing experience, a light bulb moment, a Damascus Road revelation. To others the Holy Spirit’s presence has been a gradual but significant in-filling. And through our Christian lives, there is a constant refilling, as we use the power within us in our service to God (Ephesians 5:18).
Of course, there are sadly some Christians who deny His presence, but He is a gift from God, as we can read in Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
So as pilgrims, tramping our individual ways through life, we have the presence of God within us. Wouldn’t it be sad if we denied Him room within us? Wouldn’t that on its own be enough to make God sorrowful? God not only gave us the gift of salvation when we accepted Jesus, He also gave us the gift of His Spirit. Imagine on your birthday handing back a gift saying you didn’t want it – how would the giver feel? As wise pilgrims we accept God’s Gift with grateful hearts, making space within for His presence. Doing an internal spring-clean, moving the junk inside us into the garbage bin. But in our lives we will face into opportunities for disappointing the Holy Spirit. Perhaps through someone we meet. Or through what we watch on television or in a theatre. Or in our behaviour. And He will then become sorrowful.
Paul goes on to remind us to remember. To remember who we belong to, whose children we are, the relationship we have with our Father in Heaven. And of course remembering that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our future. Earlier we read Ephesian 1:14, “The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”. So what is this inheritance that God promised? One day we will cross the Great Divide into His presence. Jesus called it Paradise during His brief conversation with the thief on the adjacent cross.
So we pilgrims must be careful in the way we live. We can so easily make those around us sorrowful, with our behaviour, with our responses, or with our lack of love and care. And so it is with the Holy Spirit, except He lives within us. Even more in touch with us than our relatives or friends. Perhaps we should pray the prayer David did in Psalm 139, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life“. David knew, as Paul did, the importance, the necessity, of not making Him sorrowful.
Jesus did so much for us at Calvary. He died for our sins. He gave us His righteousness. He then gifted us His Spirit. God, we’re so grateful! Please forgive us for the times when we have made You sorrowful. Please lead us into Your presence, day by day. Amen.