Grieving and Quenching Matters of the Spirit
John 14: 15-17 "If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
King David was a man after the very heart of God. Unfortunately, in a moment of human weakness, he gave in to sin and would become an adulterer and a murderer. He would lose two children and his kingdom. Worst of all, when he was in the middle of the sin, he no longer could see right from wrong. Even as the Prophet Nathan related the story to him about the little ewe lamb, David could not see past his sin to recognize that the story was in fact about him. Once Nathan removes the veil from David's eyes, the full magnitude of his sin falls upon him. David is not described as a man after the very heart of God because he was perfect. He was far from it. He was a man of war. He spilled too much blood for God to even allow him to build the temple. His transgression with Bathsheba is legendary. What made David a man after the heart of God is that he truly repented when faced with his own failings. He did not seek to pass the buck, blame others, or over spiritualize his sin. After the Bathsheba sin David penned Psalm 51. A psalm filled with the remorse David was feeling over what he had done. In the middle he writes:
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51: 11 (NIV)
What powerful concerns from David. Realize that David was around for the majority of the reign of the previous King, Saul. He had seen how Saul allowed sin to separate him from God. The difference between them is that Saul always tried to rationalize his sin. He always tried to explain it to God as opposed to repent of it. The result which David witnessed was devastating:
Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. 1Samuel 16: 14 (NIV)
God does not expect perfection from us beloved. He expects that when we recognize our shortcomings that we turn back to Him in humility and repent of them. Some are too fond of "the devil made me do it" theology but the reality is that the devil cannot make you do anything. All he can do is present you with a choice. A decision to follow God or to stray. God understands the flesh we walk in. So when we stray, God is not surprised.
While David had every reason to be fearful of God taking His Holy Spirit from him, we do not have to worry as such. Our key verses teach us that when Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to help us and be with us, it was forever. The often least understood portion of the Trinity; the Holy Spirit is God living inside of every believer.
But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8: 10-11 (NIV)
The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of every believer! In the Old Testament, God was separated from His believers. Within the temple, was the Holy of Holies, where only specific people were allowed to enter at specific times. There was a veil separating the God's presence from the believers. The atoning work of Christ on Calvary changed that:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; - 1Corinthians 6: 19 (NIV)
We are now the temple. There is no more separation between us and God. And while we have this awesome gift from God, do we really walk within that power and promise daily? Because while we do not have to fear of God taking His Spirit from us, we can certainly do things to lessen the power we have within us. Firstly, we can grieve the Holy Spirit within us:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4: 29-32 (NIV)
The word grieve is defined as "to inflict deep sorrow." Reflect upon that for a moment in light of these verses from Ephesians. Because we have the Spirit of God within us we need to be careful in everything we do. If not we can actually inflict deep sorrow upon the Holy Spirit, grieving Him. These verses illustrate some of the things that can cause this. They grieve the Spirit because they deny the very power the Spirit gives us. When we speak about bitterness, rage, anger, fighting, slander and malice we are talking about the things that God has set us free from. The very bondages of sin that the Spirit has delivered us from! What we say can grieve the Spirit. Are we talking in a manner that edifies others or do our words tear them down? Do our words take into consideration the needs of others or the needs of ourselves are we still selfish by nature? Is what we say for the benefit of others or does it feed some personal agenda? These are the things that will grieve the Spirit because His power working within us should cause the opposite effect! We should want to be selfless in our speech, seeking to build people up. We should be slow to anger and contain no bitterness or malice. We should be peacemakers and never seek to slander someone. This is why the Bible teaches us about the fruit of the Spirit:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5: 22-23 (NLT)
Where our sinful, worldly nature revels in hatred, misery, unrest and malice the Spirit should produce within us love, joy, peace and kindness. Where our sinful, worldly nature chains us to meanness, unfaithfulness, aggression and impulsivity the Spirit frees us to produce goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Thus when we reflect back to our sinful, worldly nature instead of to the Spirit of God within us, it naturally grieves that Spirit. God freed us to live apart from those things; not to continue in them. Secondly, we can quench the Holy Spirit: