Grieving the Holy Spirit


Grieving the Holy Spirit

February 10th, 1957 @ 7:30 PM

Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
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Dr. W.A. Criswell

Ephesians 4:30

2-10-57    7:30 p.m.



Now let’s read the pastor’s text together in the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians.  Ephesians the fourth chapter – and we begin at the twentieth verse and read to the end of the chapter.  Ephesians, the fourth chapter, the twentieth verse, and reading to the end of the chapter.  Now we have it?  Now, let’s read it all together – Ephesians four beginning at the twentieth verse.  Together:


But ye have not so learned Christ,

If so be that ye have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:

That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,

And be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

And that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Wherefore, putting away lying, "Speak every man truth with his neighbor,"   for we are members one of another.

"Be ye angry, and sin not":  let not the sun go down upon your wrath,

Neither give place to the devil.

Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

[Ephesians 4:20-32]


Amen.  I repeat, there’s no sound I have ever heard comparable to the sound of God’s sainted people reading God’s immutable Word. 

Now, the text is the thirtieth verse: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" [Ephesians 4:30].  And if I could add to it that other verse in the fifth chapter and in the eighteenth verse: "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" [Ephesians 5:18].

There is a revelation of the Spirit of God in the Spirit’s inspired choice of a word that characterizes Him that most of us overlook.  "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" [Ephesians 4:30].  You could not grieve a principle or an impersonal law or emotion.  The word "grieve" implies personality, love, quickening, response, somebody.  "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" [Ephesians 4:30].  Evidently the Holy Spirit is not just a principle that motivates our lives, nor is it just an effulgence of God, but it must be that in the Holy Spirit of God we have God Himself: someone, somebody, who can be grieved.

That word "grieve" has a tenderness with it, a feeling with it, an affection with it – just the use of it.  For example, it does not say, "Anger not the Holy Spirit."  Anger begets anger.  Retribution begets retribution.  But the word "grieve" has in it a connotation of a loving heart that is hurt.  You could grieve somebody that loves you.  You couldn’t grieve anybody that hates you.  You couldn’t grieve anybody that was your enemy.  You could grieve somebody who loved you.  "Grieve not the Holy Spirit."  It’s a mixture of heaven.  It’s a compound more precious than that of an apothecary.  Grieve not.  It has in it the bitterness of myrrh, but it has in it also the sweetness of frankincense.  "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" [Ephesians 4:30].

So on that premise, could I point out things that we already know but things that we need to realize anew?  There are personality characteristics in the Holy Spirit Himself that lays Himself open to grief.  If I do not love you, you couldn’t hurt me.  As an enemy, you might make me angry, but you couldn’t hurt me – that is, hurt my heart.  It’s only if I lay myself open to loving you that you could ever grieve me, or ever touch my soul, or ever break my heart.

Now I say that in that thing, there are traits open that characterize the Holy Spirit that lay Him open to grief, and the first one is the one I’ve mentioned – that He loves us [Romans 5:5].  The love of the Father and the love of the Son is no more certain or beautiful or factual or real than the love of the Holy Spirit, and I can see that in my ministry as a pastor with increasing clarity. 

For example, almost every week – and sometimes several times in a week – there will be brought to me by a loving parent, there’ll be brought to me a child.   Now, the little fellow will sit down there by my side, and almost always he is just so full of feeling he can hardly talk to me.  So I talk to the little fellow about how old he is and got any brothers and sisters and, you know, try to get the little fellow to open his heart to me to tell me what he wants to say, ’cause he’s come there for a very definite purpose, and I know what it is, but I let him tell me.

And so as I sit there and listen to the little boy, finally we come around, and he will tell me.  He will say something like this: "I feel Jesus has called me in my heart."  Now, that is the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus.  "Jesus has called me."  That is, his heart is made sensitive; it is quickened.  It is the Holy Spirit that opens our eyes to behold a dying Savior and to quicken our souls [John 6:63; Romans 8:11], to make our consciences sensitive that we need a redeemer, a savior.  We need God, and the Holy Spirit points to Him.  The Lord said before He left, "He will not speak of Himself, but He will take the things of Me and show them unto you" [John 16:13-14].  And that’s what the Spirit of God is doing in the life of a child.  He is showing the little fellow the Lord Jesus.

You could talk to that little child forever and a day about George Washington or about Abraham Lincoln or about any other of the great heroes of the past and his heart wouldn’t be quickened.  It’d be a matter of factual knowledge.  "You know, he was President of the United States, or he was a great scientist, or he was a leader," but you could speak to the child and teach the child forever and ever about the great heroes of the past, and the child would never break into tears and say, "I feel that He calls me and that he wants me to be a Christian."  That’s the office work of the Holy Spirit of God [John 16:8].  I say, I see that more clearly as I continue in this pastoral ministry.  The Spirit loves us and quickens us just as God the Father and God the Son. 

Now, the Holy Spirit as He works with us, leads us, and guides us [John 16:13; Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18], likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities [Romans 8:26]. He’s our consolation.  Here in the beautiful fourteenth chapter of John: "If I go, I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete" [John 14:16].   And you can’t, no matter – I have tried.  I have tried in the whole dictionary to find a word that would translate that thing, and I don’t succeed. And I have in my library – I have a shelf of translations of the Bible that is at least that long from there to there.  I don’t know how many they are.  Maybe there’s more than one shelf.  There’s a large, large group of them.  I have looked at every one of them trying to see if there’s not somewhere a word that’d translate that word "Paraclete."  I haven’t found it yet.

In the King James Version, it is translated "Comforter" [John 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7].  What it is is a description which you can’t put in language – a description of what the Holy Spirit does for us.  If you’re sick, He comforts us [2 Corinthians 1:3-5].  If we are in trouble, He encourages us [Romans 5:3-5].  If we are perplexed and in despair, He helps us [Romans 8:26].  He’s the light to our feet [Luke 12:12; John 16:13].  He opens the door for us [Colossians 4:3].  In our tribulations and trials and in our sicknesses, the Holy Spirit of God helps us [2 Corinthians 1:8-11, 4:7-10].  God with us is the Spirit of Jesus [Galatians 4:6].  Jesus is in heaven and He looks down upon His people [John 14:2-3; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 10:12], but the Spirit of Jesus is in our hearts [1 Corinthians 3:16; Colossians 1:27].

He helps us in our praying: "For we know not what we should pray for as we ought" [Romans 8:26].  How does a man talk to God?  How would you approach God?  What would you say to God?  " . . . We don’t know how we should pray as we ought, but the Spirit maketh intercession for the saints with groanings which cannot be uttered" [Romans 8:26].  You can’t put it in language.  If you are a Christian, you know exactly what Paul is talking about.  You couldn’t say it.  You couldn’t frame it in a sentence.  You couldn’t make syllables of what you feel in your heart.  It’s unspeakable.  Sometimes you can cry it better than you could say it.  "With groanings which cannot be uttered" [Romans 8:26].  "And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit" [Romans 8:27]:  God communing with the Spirit of God that dwells in your soul "because He makes intercession for us" [Romans 8:27].  He prays in our stead according to the will of God.

Another thing in that same chapter out of which I’m reading here in the eighth of Romans: The Spirit of Jesus shall dwell in you – He that raised up Christ from the dead – quickening your own mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you [Romans 8:11].  Did you ever think of that?  The Bible says the heaven of heavens cannot contain the great Almighty God [1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6], yet He dwells in your heart [1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19].  When the world and the universe can’t contain Him, yet He dwells in you.

Now, my text: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" [Ephesians 4:30].  Ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  "What does that mean, Pastor: ‘Sealed by the Holy Spirit of God unto the day of redemption?’"  This is what that means: that God has an inheritance for His people in heaven, in glory, and the Holy Spirit has put your name and sealed it with the omnipotent power of God that this belongs to you. 

I have a title deed to glory.  Is it any good?  Who authenticates it?  The Holy Spirit of God authenticates it.  How do you know if title deed is good?  How do you know you possess it?  Here it is again in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans: "For the Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" [Romans 8:16-17].  The Holy Spirit attests our inheritance up there.  His seal is on it.  The title deed is good.  God says so.  It’s the seal of attestation.  It’s the seal of appropriation.  It’s the seal of possession.

When you go downtown and buy in the store, there’ll be the brand name on it.  This is the company that makes that.  It is their product.  It belongs to them till you buy.  Or like these great ranchmen in the West putting their brand on their cattle:  it belongs to them.  That’s the seal of the Holy Spirit of God: "This child is Mine.  This soul is Mine.  This life and man is Mine."  It’s a seal of possession, and it’s a seal of ultimate and final perseverance whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  That is all the way.

Not only does God save our souls, but God saves our bodies [1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 15:51-54].  And if we die and the worm and the canker makes food of them and our bodies return to the dust of the ground, the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead shall redeem our bodies [Romans 8:11] – the whole possession!  The Spirit of God shall raise us too from the dead.  The Book says so.  It’s the promise of the Spirit of God: sealed unto the day of redemption [Ephesians 1:13, 4:30] to that final hour in that great climactic, consummating day – all the way through.

Now, we have an interdiction and an admonition.  The interdiction is: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" [Ephesians 4:30].  How do you grieve the Holy Spirit?  Well, this is the grief of the Spirit.  A backslidden Christian is a grief to the Spirit of God.  He forsakes his prayers, and he forsakes the reading in the Word, and he forsakes the house of God, and he’s not filled with gratitude, and he doesn’t remember, and he doesn’t give thanks to the Lord, and he doesn’t look to heaven.  But he’s out in the world.  He loves the world.  He’s outside the fold and the pale of the people of the Lord, and it grieves the Holy Spirit [1 John 2:15].

How do we grieve the Holy Spirit?  We grieve the Holy Spirit with a dead church – a church where nobody’s saved, where nobody’s converted, nobody’s baptized, and the prayer meeting hour dwindles away, and the evening service is closed and the house is dark at night.  That’s a grief to the Holy Spirit.  And the marvel to me is that the church would have it so and delight in it and vote to do it.  It’s a grief to the Spirit of God [Revelation 3:15-16].

How do you grieve the Spirit of God?  You grieve the Spirit of God by resisting the appeal that He makes to your heart.  Quench not the Spirit [1 Thessalonians 5:19].  There’s no soul, no one of us, made in the image of God [Genesis 1:27] but that it has felt and knows the wooing of the Holy Spirit [Acts 7:51]: "Come, come, come."  That’s the reason that I have a tremendous assurance when I preach because when I’m standing here preaching the Word, I’m not by myself out there.  The Spirit of God works saying, "The Book’s right.  That preacher’s right.  He’s telling you the truth.  You ought to give your heart to God.  You ought to come down that aisle.  You ought to be a Christian. You ought to give your home and your life to Jesus."  He works.  He woos.  He speaks.  He’s always here.  Sometimes for the lack of prayer and for the lack of dedication, we don’t have Him in the measure that we cut, but such as our hearts are open, He is always here and He always makes that appeal.

I could not tell you the number of times that in these very services in which I am the preacher, if I could, I’d like to stay out there. I’d like to sit out there where you are.  And when this glorious choir sings the invitation hymn, I’d like to come down the aisle for you.  I wish I could.  I feel that way in my soul.  I’d just like to do it.  I’d like to get into that aisle and come down and take the preacher by the hand and say just once again, "I’d just like to give my life to the Lord Jesus."  Feel that way in my heart. 

Now, I’ve never seen the great spirit of revival among the people where the people didn’t feel that way.  "Preacher, you know, I felt this morning," or, "I felt tonight that I’d just like to go down that aisle again and take the Lord Jesus as my Savior."  That’s the Spirit of God always wooing, always pleading.  And we grieve Him when we push Him aside, quench Him [1 Thessalonians 5:19].  "No, no, no."

Now, the admonition: "And be not drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit" [Ephesians 5:18], I have always thought, "What a strange conjunction.  What a mixture here:  ‘Be not drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit.’ Why put in juxtaposition those two – drunkenness and the filling of the Spirit?"  Well, as you think about it, it has a tremendous appropriateness for what Paul is talking about refers to the intensity of both of them. 

Now, I’ve never been drunk.  I do not drink.  I do not share in it.  But just looking at it, I can see why people drink.  When they are dead in their souls and dead in their lives, in order to give them some kind of lift, life, feeling, intensity, they drink to lift themselves up.  They have to.  They are bored with the ennui of their life. 

If you’re a great Christian, you don’t need it.  It would never occur to me to have to get drunk.  It just wouldn’t enter my mind.  I have such a good time down here at the church.  I have such a good time with you.  I have such a good time as a yokefellow in this ministry.  It would never occur to me to get drunk.  But if I were out there in the world living on the husks of nothing, I guess I’d get drunk like they do.  I’d like the cocktail party to pick me up, to give me a lift – anything to get out of the dead humdrum of life.  The intensity of living: to feel, to be quickened, to be alive.  And all of us seek it.  All of us seek it.

Did you know when I went to Monte Carlo – ah, wait a minute.  I went there as a visitor.  You know, I was just going around, walking, looking.  Well, when I went there to look at it and stood there by those roulette tables and gambling tables, my idea of Monte Carlo was, oh, it’d be filled with young people, you know, and, oh, just a zest of wild life and living.  I just had that in my mind.  I don’t know why.  Do you know what?  There are few exceptions to it, I suppose, but what I saw, practically everybody there at the gaming tables were old men and especially old women. 

I wondered what that meant as I looked at those old hags there, sitting around those tables there, playing those roulette wheels, and I just thought, "I wonder what in the world.  What in the world?"  Well, as I think of it and look at it, it’s the same thing again.  The reason people drink, the reason people gamble is some search for life: to live, to be quickened, to feel. 

And I could see how they’d do that, too.  I can see how a fellow would drink.  I can see how a fellow would gamble: the intensity of the feeling of it.  Even though you lose all the time – and, brother, you don’t beat the house, and that fellow rakes in those chips.  Once in a while somebody’ll bite off just a little lucky number and he’ll get a few in return, but the house never loses.  They always win.  That is, they were when I was there.  "My," I thought, "My, that’d be a poor way to try to make money – just see the house rake it in all the time."  But I could see how they were in it, and every minute of it was full of feeling, and that’s what they were looking for – something to live by!

And the tragedy of it.  Ah, doesn’t that break your heart when you see it?  Here’s a party and they’re drunk, or there’s the gambling joint and it’s filled.  Don’t you feel in your heart, "Say, fellow, I know what you’re looking for"?  "I know what you seek, but that’s not it.  ‘Be not drunk with wine and excess’ [Ephesians 5:18].  What you’re looking for is the exhilaration of living in the presence of God.  That’s what you’re looking for."  That’s life.  That’s quickening.  That’s feeling.  That’s intensity.  That’s life.  That’s heaven.  That’s the glory of God: filled with the Spirit.  Why, there’s no life in this world comparable to the glory and the light and the lift of the Spirit of God in your soul and in your heart. 

Oh, friend of mine, that you’d open your heart and say, "Lord, this is a dwelling place for Thee."  Would you, would you?  While we sing this appeal, into that aisle and down here to the front and by the side of the pastor, would you say that?  "My heart shall be open to the presence of the Spirit of God."  Would you?  Some of you on a confession of faith, "and I come;" and some of you into the fellowship of the church.  A family you or one somebody you, would you come and stand by me, while all of us stand and sing? 


Dr. W.
A. Criswell




I.          The personality of the Holy Spirit

A.  Not just a
principle, but a person who can be grieved

B.  Tenderness in the
admonition "Grieve not"

      1.  Cannot grieve someone
who hates you


II.         Attributes of the Holy Spirit that
would lay Him open to grief

A.  He loves us

      1.  Love of the
Father, love of the Son is also the love of the Spirit

      2.  He brings us
to Jesus

B.  Feels with us,
shares with us our infirmities

      1.  He is the
Comforter – the One called alongside(John 14:16)

C.  He voices our
prayers(Romans 8:26-27, Hebrews 4:15)

D.  He
dwells in the saints(Romans 1:4, 8:10-11, Matthew
3:15-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 5:1-8)

E.  Seals us unto the
day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30)

      1.  A sealing of
attestation, confirmation(Romans 8:17)

      2.  A sealing of

      3.  The assurance
of our perseverance and preservation


III.        The interdiction(Ephesians 4:30)

A.  The back-slidden
Christian(Luke 15:11-32)

B.  The dead church

C.  The unconverted soul(Matthew 12:31-32, Genesis 6:3)


IV.       The admonition(Ephesians 5:18)

A.  Such a contrast

B.  Refers to intensity
of feeling

C.  What is wanted is

D.  The gift and gifts of
the Spirit