Grieving The Holy Spirit
“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Bear in mind these words were written to the church at Ephesus. A great many have the idea that it is the unconverted that grieve the Holy Spirit; but here it certainly is the Church. To be sure, a man that resists the Holy Spirit may grieve Him by not letting Him into his heart; but this was written to the Church.
Again, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” This forbids Church quarrels. The Master knows that after the devil gets into the Church the Holy Ghost cannot work. That is one way in which Christians grieve the Holy Ghost by quarreling among themselves.
“And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Now if we grieve the Spirit, He cannot work through us and use us. This is also an admonition given to the Church.
Another way that we grieve the Spirit is by being yoked up with ungodly people. We want to be separated. There was a time when there was danger of the Church going over into the world, but I don’t think there is so much danger of that now as of the devil and the world coming into the Church. Why, you see the height of the fashion in the churches! We have even theatricals in a good many of the churches! Now the Holy Ghost is grieved in that way, by letting the world come into the Church.
There is a great call for more intellectual power in the pulpit; but that isn’t what we need so much as the Holy Ghost power. Where can you find greater power than that which followed the simple preaching of Barnabas and Stephen? “Why,” they say, “if the minister preaches about the sins of the Church he will preach the rich people out of doors; they won’t stand it. We must get a man that will compromise between the Church and God, and make every body feel that they are all right.” They want ministers to preach about the sins of the old patriarchs, but not about the sins of the present day. They are something like a man in Scotland: An old minister died, and a young man took the old church, and the first time he preached he began to bear down upon the sins of the congregation. After the service, the sexton, or the beadle as they call him there, took him aside and said: “Young man, if you want to be popular don’t you speak about the sins of the present day, but bear down hard on the sins and the sinners of two thousand years ago: they will all like you then, but they won’t stand hearing about the sins of the present day.”
But if we are going to honor the Holy Ghost we must give the message just as God gives it to us; and if we are not willing that the man we put in the pulpit shall speak as the Spirit comes to him, then the Holy Ghost is grieved. Are the churches in New England ready for that? Are they ready that ministers should preach the whole truth, if it does cut to the heart? If a man has been defrauding his neighbor, are they ready to have that man preached about, and that sin brought to light? When we get sin out of the Church, we shall have more conversions in one year than we have had for the last fifty years. I know some people think it will drive away support; but it will bring God down into the Church, and we need Him a great deal more. We don’t want intellect and money so much as the power of God’s Word working in the minds and hearts of men, making them over anew. When we have that, we shall see sinners converted.
How many churches do you think there are in New England that have that power? Why, I heard of a church in Chicago that hasn’t had a conversion for eight years! Think of it! And some one praying for that church said: “Give it one more chance, Lord, before you spew it out of your mouth.” I thought that was very appropriate prayer.
The Holy Spirit must be grieved when Christians can’t work with power. Let them not talk about the world grieving the Holy Spirit, but bring it home to themselves. Are we doing anything to grieve the Holy Ghost that has sealed us for the day of redemption?
In 1 Thessalonians, fifth chapter and nineteenth verse, we find these words: “Quench not the Spirit.” That was written to the Church. How do we quench the Spirit? By not being willing to let the Spirit of God lead us. We are all the time taking God’s work out of the hands of the Spirit into our own. We quench it by this terrible lukewarmness, by this coldness and stiffness which has come into the Church. Turn over to the fifth chapter of Acts, and you will find that he that does that resists the Holy Ghost.
—Taken from D. L. Moody’s “Outlines of Doctrine.”