What Does It Mean to Grieve the Holy Spirit?

May 9, 2013 — 6 Comments

Second Mile Logo without name 

We hear a lot today about our loving God. However, I sometimes wonder what happened to our Holy God who calls us to a life of holiness.  


 In Ephesians 4:30a we read “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God”. The Greek word here is lypeō, which means to be grieved, afflicted with sorrow; to offend, insult; to distress, inflict emotional pain. The CEB translates this verse “Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy.” 

The passage in Ephesians goes on to explain, “Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ. Therefore imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. Sexual immorality, and any kind of impurity or greed, shouldn’t even be mentioned among you, which is right for holy persons. Obscene language, silly talk, or vulgar jokes aren’t acceptable for believers. Instead, there should be thanksgiving. Because you know for sure that persons who are sexually immoral, impure, or greedy–which happens when things become gods–those persons won’t inherit the kingdom of Christ and God.”  

“Nobody should deceive you with stupid ideas. God’s anger comes down on those who are disobedient because of this kind of thing. So you shouldn’t have anything to do with them. You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth” (Ephesians 4:31-5:9 CEB). 

Wow! This is strong stuff. We hear a lot today about our loving God. However, I sometimes wonder what happened to our Holy God who calls us to a life of holiness.  

Do you sometimes lose your temper? Get angry? Do you have trouble loving some of your neighbors, perhaps the ones with the dogs that bark all night. Do you have trouble forgiving someone? Are you engaging in some form of sexual immorality? Obscene language? Do you like to tell dirty jokes? Is money more important to you than it should be? Do you let your job come between you and your family? You and God? (For a whole set of questions to help you evaluate your spiritual condition, check out my Spiritual Life Assessment.)

Paul Harvey once told about a medical student who was working at a rotation in toxicology at a poison control center. A woman called in and explained that her daughter had eaten some ants. The medical student assured the woman the child would be fine; the ants would do her no harm. 

Having been told her daughter would be all right, the mother was about to hang up when she happened to mention she had given the child some ant poison to kill the ants. Of course, the student then explained she needed to get her daughter to the emergency room as quickly as possible.  

Sin in our lives is like ant poison. It needs to be dealt with as soon as possible or it can kill us spiritually.  When the Apostle Paul wrote letters of instruction, he typically began with some theological material, but eventually moved to practical instruction in holy living. For example, in his first book to the Thessalonians he began the fourth chapter, “Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God. . . It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (NIV).  The definition of sanctified is “To set apart for sacred use; consecrate. To make holy; purify. 

This blog is all about our helping each other to become the saints (obedient disciples) God created us to be. Paul believed in the grace of God and the transforming power of His love. But he also encouraged believers to grow spiritually, not grieving the Holy Spirit, but pleasing God more each day. 

QUESTION: Are you working to become sanctified, “to live in order to please God?” What are you finding helpful on your spiritual journey? Please respond in the Comments section below.

Dr. Gary Thompson


I am a retired United Methodist pastor. I write adult curriculum for the United Methodist Church and have been doing so for over 10 years. My passion is helping the Christian Church more effectively fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ and to help individuals identify and fulfill their God-given personal mission.

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  • Reed Robertson

    Thanks. I am trying and praying to be holy.

  • http://twitter.com/DrGaryT Gary Thompson

    Good for you, Reed. Keep on keeping on.

  • James

    Dying to self…easy to say but difficult to do. God usually teaches me in different areas of my life at different times. And right now I’m learning to tell myself no. Especially things that fulfill my desires as opposed to fulfilling His desires.

  • http://www.traditionalsalvationists.org/ Admin – Traditional Salvos

    A concise, important, helpful and interesting article. God bless your ministry.

    • DrGaryT

      Thanks, Phillip.

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