Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God
Ephesians 4:17-32 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The Christian’s Walk
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Paul’s message, the good news of the gospel, is that we are saved by grace, by the finished work of the cross. We are not judged by our own works or actions, but rather we are judged as righteous according to Jesus work on the cross. John 3:16 says that whoever believes in Christ, will have eternal life. The good news, the gospel, Jesus sacrifice for sin on the cross was done once for all, for every person, regardless of their national origin or their former life of sin. In today’s text, Paul exhorts believers, that if they have believed in Christ, then you will leave your former life. You will no longer walk in sin, but rather in righteousness and holiness. Throughout His ministry, Jesus Himself said: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) Though He showed love, compassion and grace to sinners, outcasts and societies unlovely, He also called them to: “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) To: “not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” (John 5:14)
The power of the cross is that it not only changes the way God sees us, as righteous in Christ rather than in our own unrighteousness, but that it also has the power to change us, to make us new. Paul says: if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him… lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. While there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, it is by grace not by our own work, to walk in the salvation God has given us through Christ, we must choose to walk in holiness and righteousness. If indeed we have heard and been taught Jesus, we will change, we must change. A person cannot believe in Christ, that He suffered and died on the cross for their sin, they cannot love Jesus and still love the sin He bore for us. Jesus says: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” (John 14:15,23)
Paul continues with how this changed life in Christ will look, how it will change what we say and what we do. The text says: Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Having been freed from the deceitfulness of sin, we now must speak truth. Only a few verses prior in Paul said: speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15) Speaking truth in love means that we will encourage each other to live righteously, to keep Jesus commandments and His word. Paul continues: Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Anger is not sin, yet most times that we are angry we do sin. The sin behind our anger is the sin of offence. Most times when we are angry it is because we ourselves have been hurt or offended. The answer then to our sin is to forgive. If we are truly living as a new creation, if indeed we are dead to our old self, dead to the flesh, then we no longer should feel offense. The only things then which we are left to be angry about are the things which offend God. If we are in agreement with God, if we are truly offended only as He is offended, then there is no sin in our anger. On the other hand when we are offended, Paul says we “give the devil an opportunity.” Paul says not to let the sun go down on our anger. If we are offended, we must forgive. If our anger is in agreement with God, then we should give it to God and trust Him with it. Holding on anger, even to righteous anger, gives rise to our emotions and feelings, it gives the devil an opportunity to cause us to be divided from others, or to be tempted to respond in the flesh. Be Angry and Do Not Sin. Forgive and give it to God.
Paul continues saying: Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. In Matthew 12:33-37, Jesus speaks to the importance of watching what we say: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” James 3:8-10 says: no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. It is indeed difficult for us to watch what we say, to say only things for edification, but that’s what speaking the truth in love is. Even when we challenge others with their sin it is done for edification and for restoration, not for condemnation.
Finally Paul says: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. The Holy Spirit abides with us, dwells in us. The Holy Spirit goes where we go, sees what we see and hears what we say. The only way we can be certain not to grieve the Holy Spirit is for us to let Him be the one who leads, to allow Him to let us see as He sees and to speak what it is that He says. In John 16:13 Jesus says: "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” In John 14:26, the Amplified version Jesus says: But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You for the new life You have given me through the cross, by grace, not by what I myself have done but by what Jesus has done for me. I desire, I choose to walk in the fullness of the new life You have given me, to do all that Jesus commanded. Holy Spirit it is only through You, my guide, my Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), that I can do and say what I should. I yield to You. Be my guide. Be my voice. In the name above all names, the only name by which men can be saved, the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen