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What It Really Means to ‘Grieve the Holy Spirit’

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In discussing the person of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul gave one of the clearest commands in Scripture when he wrote to the church in Ephesus. That command was: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you are sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30, MEV). Since the Holy Spirit is God, we should certainly want to give this command careful consideration and obedience.

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What does it mean to “grieve the Holy Spirit”? The word “grieve” generally means to make someone sorrowful or to cause them sadness, grief or offense. That the Holy Spirit can be grieved points out in greater degree the reality that the Holy Spirit is a person and not just a power. So what is it that would cause the Holy Spirit to be stricken with sorrow or offense?

To help us understand Paul’s concern, we should remember that “grief” is quite often thought of in connection with someone’s death or a funeral. Family or friends often “grieve” over the loss or death of a loved one. Anyone who has experienced this kind of loss easily remembers the pain and weight of that sorrow. It isn’t something that most would want anyone to endure, let alone the Holy Spirit of God.

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