The Holy Spirit and You, Part 2

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Grieving the Holy Spirit

 Last time, we discussed the reality of the Holy Spirit’s personhood.  He is a Person.  He is not an “it,” “an emanation,” “a warm fuzzy feeling,” or anything that looks like a leaping flame on your head or a dove, floating down from the sky.  The Holy Spirit is a Person, the third Member of the Holy Trinity.  He is, for all intents and purposes, the abiding presence of God that rests inside every born again person.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  (John 16:13 NIV84)

 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.   (John 16:7 NIV84)

Jesus told His disciples He had to go (to be crucified and return to the Father) so that He could send the Holy Spirit to them.  This was important because while Jesus was on the Earth,  He was pretty much a local personality; His ministry confined to the plains of Galilee.  But things needed to change.  The Gospel message was about to spread to the ends of the Earth.  The presence of God needed to be where all believers were going to be, not just among the converts in Galilee and Judea.  In short order, there would be Christians in Asia Minor, Rome, Italy, and all over the world.  Jesus, before He was crucified, prayed this:

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your namethe name you gave meso that they may be one as we are one.   (John 17:11 NIV84)

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.   (John 17:15 NIV84)

The Holy Spirit is God the Father’s answer to Jesus, the Son’s prayer.  And as we work our way through our study of the Holy Spirit, we will discover He fulfills Jesus’ prayer of John 17 to the letter.

Being a Person in every sense of the word, the Holy Spirit can be hurt. He can be offended.  He can be resisted.  This time, we will look at how the Holy Spirit suffers. 

1.  He may be blasphemed, Matthew 12:31, 3

And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.  (Matthew 12:31-32 NIV84)

What exactly does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit?   Just what is the dreaded “unpardonable sin?”

It’s a remarkable statement; all sin and blasphemy – even when committed against Jesus Christ – can be forgiven!  Now that’s some amazing grace!  However, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will NEVER be forgiven.  The key to understanding this terrible sin is glancing back to verses 24 and 28–

But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.  (Matthew 12:24 NIV84)

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.  (Matthew 12:28 NIV84)

What is it that the Pharisees did?  They attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to that of the Devil, thus they blasphemed the Holy Spirit.  John Wesley wrote:  It is neither more nor less than ascribing those miracles to the power of the devil which Christ wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Essentially, the Pharisees were rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit, claiming it was Satanic in its origins.  They were rejecting the witness of the Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Can this sin be committed today?  It’s committed when a person willfully resists the Holy Spirit.  That sin cannot be forgiven because the Holy Spirit brings forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the cure for sin, and it’s the Holy Spirit that applies it.  If a sinner rejects it, he is rejecting the cure.  That’s unpardonable.

2.  He may be insulted, Hebrews 10:29

How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  (Hebrews 10:29 NIV84)

This verse should be taken in context of the writer’s larger context.  He is contrasting the days of the Old Covenant with the days of the New.  He compares the penalty for sin under the Old – physical death – with the much stronger penalty under the New – spiritual death.  He points out the differences between breaking the Law of Moses and despising the Son of God and the Holy Spirit.

The sinner who rebels against God under the New Covenant rejects the Person of Jesus Christ and His work and He rejects the Person of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of grace.  So, the “unpardonable sin,” then, involves three aspects:

(a)  Sinning against the Son of God.  The sinner tramples under foot Jesus Christ.  That’s a figurative way of describing how we treat things that bother us, like chunks of mud in the treads of our sneakers.  The sinner scrapes and grinds the Son of God into the ground.

(b) Sinning against the Work of Jesus.  Jesus shed His blood as the supreme sacrifice for our sins.  To sin against that sacrifice is to consider it as nothing significant.  It’s to think of the blood of Jesus like anybody else’s blood.

(c)  Sinning against the Holy Spirit.  When a sinner does this, he insults the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of grace – by ignoring Him or by attributing His work to something else.  Insulting this third Person of the Trinity is the height of man’s arrogance and folly and sin.  He can never be forgiven for such a flagrant display of pride.

3.  He may be grieved, Isaiah 63:9, 10 

In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.  Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.  (Isaiah 63:9, 10 NIV84)

Think of Israel, the redeemed ones, rebelling against the Holy Spirit, grieving Him terribly.  No wonder the Spirit “turned and became their enemy.”  When God’s people knowingly rebel against Him, He becomes their enemy.  Verse 9 might be the most heartbreaking verse in the Bible.  It describes a God who totally identified with His people; who did so much for them, yet they completely turned their backs on Him.  Instead of being grateful and serving God in humble thankfulness and appreciation, they fought against Him; kicking violently against the goad.

God the Holy Spirit is hurt when we treat His goodness, faithfulness, and compassion as nothing at all.  It’s more than hurt.  To rebel against the Holy Spirit is to hurt the Holy Spirit and that puts you on the wrong side of the equation.

4.  He may be resisted,  Acts 7:51

You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!  (Acts 7:51 NIV84)

The people to whom Stephen was speaking were “stiff-neck” (unbending), whose faith was all for show.  Those who are like that are able to resist the Holy Spirit; those whose faith is all on the outside, with nothing on the inside.  The church attenders whose faith is a Sunday-only proposition, for example, are like this;   people like that routinely resist the Holy Spirit.  They are able to render all the sermons they hear as nothing.

Why God’s Word breaks some hearts and is resisted by others is a matter of some mystery.  Of course, the former is due to God’s amazing grace and the latter due to man’s sinful nature.  The Jews Stephen was addressing were all guilty, as where their forefathers, of resisting the Holy Spirit as He sought to lead them and guide them.

When a believer easily resists the Holy Spirit, it is probably an indication they don’t take their faith seriously; they doubt the Word of God they may claim to defend.  If the Holy Spirit is to have full possession of the “Canaan Land” of the heart, then the whole Word of God must be believed and yielded to, or the Spirit will be resisted.

5.  He may be quenched, 1 Thessalonians 5, 19, 20

Do not put out the Spirits fire;  do not treat prophecies with contempt.   (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 NIV84)

The Thessalonian church was busy church.  They were, by all indication, doing the “good work” of the Lord:  sharing their faith in the community, with their worship services characterized by great manifestations of the Holy Spirit:  joy and enthusiasm in the The Lord.  In verse 20, one particular gift of the Spirit is singled out:  the gift of prophecy.  We may debate what the spiritual gift of prophecy is, it is in essence a message from God.  This sin is slightly different from resisting the Spirit.  This involves actively stopping the proclamation of God’s message to a congregation.

How does this happen?  It happens when we hear something we don’t like from the pulpit – a message from God, not an opinion – and we speak against it or against the one who gave it.

You may say that rarely happens, but the evidence of your own eyes proves that it does:  the dozens and dozens of denominations that dot the religious landscape in America all testify to the reality of people who, rather than deal honestly with the Word of God, start their own church so as to preach a message they like to hear.  The Holy Spirit is quenched all the time.

6.  His heart may be broken, Ephesians 4:30

And do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God’s mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free.   (Ephesians 4:30 GNTCE)

This “grieving” of the Holy Spirit is a little different from what was mentioned earlier.  In the context of what Paul wrote the Ephesians, it seems the Holy Spirit can be hurt by how we treat others!  Malicious, sacrilegious, or unwholesome talk that could hurt others causes pain to and hurts the Spirit of God.  Can you imagine?  Does that make you think twice about the words that come out of your mouth?  If you knew what you were saying was hurting God, would you keep saying it?

If you are a Christian, you don’t have the right to say anything you feel like saying.  You have to take into consideration how your words will touch the Spirit of God within you.

Remember, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 NIV84)

The precious Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer, was given freely in love by Jesus Christ, is deeply wounded by irreverent and hurtful talk.

Let’s think twice about how we treat others, how we respond to the Word of God, and how think about what the Holy Spirit may be doing in the lives of fellow believers.

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