What does it mean for a believer to grieve the Holy Spirit?
It means to live in a way that goes against the grace of God.
Let us read the context:
Ephesians 4 “17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts. 19 They, having become callous, gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you didn’t learn Christ that way, 21 if indeed you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.”
Paul writes to believers telling us to not to live like unbelievers who are dead in sin.
We are new creations, with a new heart and new spirit – we are righteous by faith in Christ.
We are holy, perfect and sanctified in Christ.
Therefore let us live from that identity as children of God.
He continues here about how we deal with our fellow believers:
Ephesians 4 “25 Therefore putting away falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor. For we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and don’t sin.” Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 and don’t give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, producing with his hands something that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but only what is good for building others up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.“
When we live under the mindset of the Law, then we will judge and condemn other people.
It’s because the Law demands punishment for sin.
We find it hard to forgive others if we ourselves are trying to earn God’s approval based on our works – such a person is living under the mindset of the Law – that grieves the Holy Spirit.
But when we live under the mindset of Grace (Spirit), we forgive and love others. Its because we have tasted the forgiveness of Christ – we have known His unconditional love.
When we are filled with the knowledge and experience of His love, then we love and forgive others – this is pleasing to the Holy Spirit.
But when we are not feeding our minds and hearts with grace, we end up trusting in the law and the accusations of the enemy. We treat others as we mistakenly think God is treating us. If we think that God is treating us according to the law, then we will do the same others and not walk in love. This grieves the Holy Spirit – because we are sealed until the last day, and yet we behave as those under the law!
We cannot lose salvation because we are sealed with unbreakable love. The Holy Spirit is not a sensitive dove who will fly away when we make mistakes. He does not keep record of our wrongs and does not remember our sins. He reminds us that we are eternally forgiven once and for all by Christ’s sacrifice:
1 Corinthians 13 “4 Love is patient and is kind. Love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, 5 doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; 6 doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. 8 Love never fails.”
Hebrews 10 ” 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them: ‘After those days,’ says the Lord, ‘I will put my laws on their heart, I will also write them on their mind;’” then he says, 17 “I will remember their sins and their iniquities no more.” 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
Therefore Paul tells us to focus on how much Christ loves us and forgave us.
When we know His love, then we can walk in the Spirit manifesting the same love and forgiveness to others.