III. GRIEVING NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT
What we have covered thus far is the grace of God that has been given to us. Now we will consider the responsibility that we should bear. Let us read Ephesians 4:30: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption." Paul exhorted us with the fact that the Holy Spirit is a seal. He meant that since we have the Holy Spirit as a seal, we should not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
What does "grieve" mean? Does it say here, "Let not the Holy Spirit of God be angry"? No, it does not say this. The Bible clearly says, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God." It is not "being angry with," but "grieve." This is a matter of love! Where there is hatred, there is anger. One cannot make the Holy Spirit of God angry, but one can grieve the Holy Spirit of God. We thank and praise God for the Holy Spirit of God within us only grieves; He never becomes angry through hatred. No matter how bad we are, the Holy Spirit only "grieves"; He does not become angry. I have heard someone say, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit to the point that He runs away." This is impossible. When Paul said, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God," he continued immediately with, "In whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption." No Christians can pray as David did: "Do not take the Spirit of Your holiness away from me" (Psa. 51:11). This is a prayer of the Old Testament age. No one in the New Testament can ever pray this prayer. No Christian, rightly taught, would pray like this. If a Christian knows the gospel, he would never pray such a prayer. Since the Holy Spirit can never run away, Paul entreated the believers in Ephesus, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit." When a person is not good, others will either become angry with him or run away from him. Man may become angry or run away, but the Holy Spirit will never run away. The Holy Spirit can only grieve. If He could run away, He would not have to grieve. The Holy Spirit cannot become angry because He loves you! Neither can the Holy Spirit run away because He loves you! Therefore, you should not grieve Him.
What does "grieve" mean? It is the same word as "sorrowful" in Matthew 26:37. Brothers and sisters, what kind of sorrow is this sorrow? It is the sorrow of our Lord Jesus at Gethsemane when God put upon Him all sins; He was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death. If a Christian becomes weak and commits sins, the indwelling Holy Spirit will be sorrowful as the Lord was sorrowful even unto death. He will continually grieve within us. We should know that this is not a small thing. The Holy Spirit within us can be in either of two states: He can either be happy or sorrowful. Therefore, we should ask ourselves whether the indwelling Holy Spirit is happy or sorrowful. If He is not happy, He must be sorrowful. We can make Him either happy or sorrowful. May God enlighten us to know ourselves and see how rebellious, sinful, and evil we are. Yet the Holy Spirit never becomes angry within us, and He never runs away from us. He loves us and would only grieve within us.
When the Lord was at Gethsemane, He said to the disciples, "So were you not able to watch with Me for one hour?" (Matt. 26:40b). The Lord’s sorrow was just for a while or for one hour. But the Holy Spirit dwells within us unto the day of redemption. As such, His sorrow is an enduring one. The sorrow of our Lord Jesus was over after a while, but the Holy Spirit is under the pressure of our sins moment by moment and day after day. If we disobey Him and refuse to listen to His voice all the time, do we realize how much He grieves within us? I do not know whether the Holy Spirit is happy or sorrowful in you. But you should know that either you are making Him happy, or you are making Him sorrowful.
What makes the Holy Spirit sorrowful? It is sins! Offenses against others, filthiness, fondness in criticisms, stealing of others’ secrets and gossiping about them, finding fault with others, not forgiving others, not being faithful to the work of the Lord, to ones’ own family, or to all things, inability to love others, or hunting for opportunity to profit oneself—these sins will grieve the Holy Spirit within us! Not only do sins grieve Him, even our disobedience to God’s will, the choosing of our own way, or taking the wrong way, also grieves Him! This is not all. Young Christians who love the world, who are reluctant to give up the world, to suffer, to testify for the Lord, or who do not care for the souls of sinners but have a cold heart, not caring if others are saved or perishing, also grieve the Holy Spirit!
You can grieve the Holy Spirit, but He will never leave, and He never becomes angry. He loves you. This is why He is sorrowful in you! Sometimes you may say, "Why am I not happy?" Let me tell you: if the Holy Spirit is not happy, you cannot be happy. If the Holy Spirit is happy, you can be happy. If the Holy Spirit grieves, how can you be happy? Even if you have worldly happiness, you cannot make the Holy Spirit within you happy. If you know what you must do, yet you do not do it according to the leading of the Holy Spirit, you will grieve the Holy Spirit within you, and you cannot be genuinely happy. You can only have "joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). If the Holy Spirit does not rejoice in you, you cannot rejoice in Him either.
May God enlighten us today to truly know that the Holy Spirit is like a seal and a deposit. Our responsibility on earth today is not to grieve the Holy Spirit. This is what we should be watchful to do everyday. May God bless us!
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 17: Notes on Scriptural Messages (1), Chapter 10, by Watchman Nee)