What Does It Mean To Grieve Or Quench The Holy Spirit?
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul instructs us not to “grieve” the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and again in Thessalonians, that we not “quench” the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:20). These commands are related to Paul’s instruction regarding an important role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers, which is to produce godliness in us. Christ is our example of what godliness looks like, and the Holy Spirit is at work in us to shape us after the pattern of Christ, so that we are like him.
In ourselves, we are not capable of producing godliness or being like Christ. “For the mind that is set on the flesh (that is our own abilities and judgments, or our natural self) is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8). Only God can be godly, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit, God himself dwelling within us, to produce that godliness in our lives.
In order for this process to take place, though, Paul says that we must “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4). In other words, we must participate with the work of the Holy Spirit, by allowing him to govern our actions, attitudes, and thoughts, and by depending on him to produce the godliness in us that we cannot produce by ourselves.
When we listen to the voice of the “flesh,” depending on our own strength, following our natural inclinations and desires, and relying on our own judgment to determine what is good, we suppress, the work of the Spirit within us.
We are faced with all kinds of choices every day, in which we must decide either to rely on the resources of the Spirit or to turn to the resources of the flesh. As we turn to the Spirit, the influence of the Spirit becomes progressively stronger in our lives. Conversely, the more we rely on the flesh, the influence of the Spirit can also be diminished. Paul’s command that we not quench the Spirit, then, is a warning against this.
Further, when we quench the work of the influence of the Spirit in our lives, we will also grieve the Spirit, because our actions and attitudes will reflect the values of the flesh rather than the character of Christ.
God’s will is that we be godly, and when we are ungodly, thinking and acting as those who do not have the Spirit, he is grieved. Examples Paul gives us in Ephesians 4:25-5:5, of things that grieve the Spirit, include lying, anger, stealing, cursing, bitterness, unforgiveness, and sexual immorality. These are attitudes and actions produced by the flesh.
“The fruit of the Spirit, however, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). It is these things God desires to work in us through his Spirit so that we are more and more like Christ.
So, let us take Paul’s instruction to heart. Let us not quench the Spirit and so live in ways that grieve the him; but let us walk according to the Spirit, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
Pastor Jon EnrightMay 1, 2019