Grieve Not The Spirit
By A. B. Simpson
"Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" (Eph. 4:30).
Perhaps it is because of the great gentleness of the Holy Spirit that the Lord Jesus has pronounced such awful penalties against those who sin against the Holy Spirit. Everything that grieves the Holy Spirit is not necessarily to be construed as that one dreadful thing which the Scriptures call the sin against the Holy Spirit, which never hath forgiveness (Mark 3:29). But when we once begin to descend the awful incline of evil, we never know where we are going to end. Therefore let us guard against the very beginnings of all that might lead to that dreadful attitude which the apostle describes when he speaks of those who have "done despite unto the Spirit of grace" (Heb. 10:29).
We may quench the Spirit (1 Thes. 5:19). This perhaps has reference rather to His public work in the church of God and the hearts of others than to His particular dealing with our own soul. We may discourage the work of the Spirit and the liberty of worship and testimony by our harshness and criticism. We may ourselves, through timidity or disobedience, fail to obey His impulses in our own hearts to testify for Him or to speak to others about their souls. The minister of Christ may quench the Spirit by worldly and sensational themes and by discouraging the spirit of prayer, separation, and revival in the church. The Spirit is quenched by worldliness, fashion, and sinful pleasure. The Spirit is quenched by error, fanaticism, and ecclesiastical pride.
The cultivation of worldly pleasures and personal ambitions, instead of humble heart searching and soul winning – these things quench the Holy Spirit. Nothing quenches His reviving power more than strife, controversy, evil speaking, and division among the people of God. Frivolous conversation in connection with the house of God and sacred things often drives away the convicting influence of the Holy Spirit from other hearts. A wife was laughing on her way from church to her husband about some of the peculiarities of the preacher. Suddenly she felt his arm trembling; and as she looked into his face, the tears were falling, and he said, "Pray for me. I have seen myself tonight as I never have before." She awoke to realize her dreadful sin and folly. We may quench the Spirit in our church; we may quench the Spirit in our children and have the blood of souls on our hands forever.
Again, the Scriptures speak of grieving the Holy Spirit. How gently this figure represents Him, not angry but pained. We may grieve Him by our doubts and fears. We may grieve Him by holding back some reserve in our consecration. We may grieve Him by disobedience and willfulness. We may grieve Him by coming short of the fullness of His blessing. We may grieve Him by a divided heart and the idolatry of earthly pleasures and affections. We may grieve Him by the neglect of His Word. We may grieve Him by our lack of love to Jesus, whom He always seeks supremely to honor and for whose rights He is jealous. We may grieve Him when we cherish bitterness, and it is of this especially that the apostle says: "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice" (Eph. 4:30-31). And we may grieve Him by our spiritual selfishness, by praying only for our own needs and by letting the world perish in its ignorance and sin while we hear the Gospel and neglect the cry of our brother.
But there is something worse than this. To some persons God had to say in days of old, "Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51). The sinner resists Him when he tries to shake off religious impressions and escape conviction of sin, or procrastinate decision for Christ. He may do it very politely and intend at some "convenient season" to take up the matter again; but all the same the Holy Spirit recognizes it as rejection, refusal, and insult. Therefore we read, "Wherefore, as the Holy Spirit saith, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts…" (Heb. 3:7-8).
It is possible to do this by an imperceptible process as when a piece of iron is heated and cooled again and again until it corrodes and falls to pieces; the temper has been burned out of it, and there is nothing left but dross. God says of some souls, "Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them" (Jer. 6:30). We never can tell when for the last time we are saying "No" to God and He is giving us the final invitation. Just because the Spirit is so gentle, patient, long-suffering, and forgetful of His own honor and glory, therefore God has said, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:29).
Payson of Portland once said to a young friend who had come to speak to him about a slight religious impression that he had begun to feel, "A little cord has dropped from heaven, and for a moment touched your shoulder. It is so fine that you can scarcely feel it. Dear friend, grasp it quickly, for it is fastened to the throne of God and is perhaps for you the last strand of saving grace."
– Originally published in The Alliance Weekly (now Alliance Life), October 15, 1949. Used by permission.