By Todd Pekel


Learning to grieve not the Holy Spirit of God is a lifelong endeavor. Since becoming a Christian, I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon regarding what it means to actually grieve the Holy Spirit. Throughout the past year or so, this subject has oft been before me. For those given eyes to see and ears to hear, God will show them just how, when, and where they have – and do – grieve him. The process won’t always be pleasant, but God’s chastening isn’t meant to be pleasant, it’s meant to be profitable.

Hebrews 12:11:
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

The book of Ephesians can act as a starting point from which an understanding will be obtained about what it means to grieve the Holy Spirit. First note that we are to have knowledge of him through the spirit of wisdom and revelation.

Ephesians 1:17:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

It’s in our knowledge of him that we begin to learn what it is that grieves him. How do I know this? It’s simple, really. It’s because I’m married. You see, I know my wife. I have and do spend time with her. When I tap a rhythm on the TV remote control (I played drums a long time ago) it upsets her. Actually, no, it grieves her. It causes her dislike and discomfort. So, guess what? I have learned (yes, unfortunately, it’s taken a long time) but I have learned NOT to do it anymore! It’s in my knowledge of her likes and dislikes that I’ve learned what it is that grieves her. Now, some of those things that grieve her I learned right away, at the very beginning of our relationship, while other things have taken much more time. The very same holds true in our relationship with the Holy Spirit of God.

Ephesians 4:30:
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

If we are to know what it is that grieves God, we must first have a knowledge of him. In order to have a knowledge of him, it follows that we must spend time with him. The more time we spend with him, the more we will know what things in our lives grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Looking to the above verse (Eph. 4:30) as our basic text, let’s see some of those things that cause him to be grieved… so that we may learn to NOT do it any more!

An important difference to note between grieving a person and grieving the Holy Spirit is that grieving a person is mostly dependant upon our actions towards that person, while grieving the Holy Spirit is not only dependant upon how we act towards God; it’s also dependant on how we behave towards others.

1 John 4:20:
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

In fact, it’s in our action and behavior towards others that our behavior and action towards God (to a very large degree) is seen and known. It is, after all, the second (like unto the first) great commandment.

Matthew 22:37-40:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
38 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

If you just glanced over the Scriptures above because you’ve read them before I do hope you’ll pause a moment and read them carefully. We need to allow the fullness of these words to sink deeply into our ears, and penetrate fully into our hearts. Why? Well, did you notice that "all of the law and prophets" are summed up in only 28 English words?! How important, then, must the message of those words be? Surely, if we love God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with our entire mind, we won’t be doing those things that grieve him. Contrarily, if we do do things that grieve the Holy Spirit, it’s a good bet that our heart, or our soul, or our mind is not actively engaged in loving him.

In Ephesians chapters 4 and 5, there are seven maladies and seven remedies concerning the subject of grieving the Spirit of our God. For space consideration we will not show the Scriptures in their entirety, however, I do recommend that you read this section of the Scriptures for further reference. When you do, you notice the following.


  1. living like unbelievers (4:17–19)
  2. lying (4:25)
  3. anger (4:26)
  4. giving place to the devil (4:27)
  5. theft (4:28)
  6. corrupt communication/evil speaking (4:29, 31)
  7. sexual perversions (5:3–5)


  1. learn Christ – truth is in Jesus (4:20–21)
  2. speak truth with neighbor (4:25)
  3. repentance - let not the sun go down on wrath (4:26)
  4. give no place to devil - put off old; put on new (4:22–24)
  5. labor – work to give (4:28)
  6. edify – speak grace giving life/forgiveness (4:29, 31)
  7. walk in love / be thankful (Eph 5:2, 4)

A quick glance at the above lists shows that two of the seven (numbers 2 and 6) are directly related to that which comes out of the mouth. It’s as if we are doubly warned because it’s twice as likely that something we may say will grieve God’s Spirit. This is hardly surprising, given our Lord stated that it’s "not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man" (Matt. 15:11).

If you’re like me, then you may have real room for victory in this area of your Christian walk. The Scriptures declare that "the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity" and "that it defileth the whole body" (Jms. 3:6a, b). What’s more, the Scriptures also claim that "the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (Jms. 3:8).

One of the great areas for victory in our lives can be the experience of the bridling of our "unruly evil," "full of deadly poison," and "world of iniquity" tongues. As wise King Solomon advised; "suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin" (Eccl. 5:6). Moreover, the psalmist declared; "I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me" (Ps. 39:1).

Learning to keep our mouths bridled will go a long way in taming the brute beast that is our tongue. Thank God we are not left alone in this endeavor as the Spirit’s help and guidance is more than just welcome, it’s most definitely needed. Let us pray that God post a sentry on our lips as we bridle our tongues in a sincere effort to grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Finally, let us speak truth with our neighbors that we may minister grace unto the hearers of all the words that proceed from our lips. In so doing we will be able to declare as David did long ago; "thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress." (Ps. 17:3)

To know what it is to grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, one must first know what it is to grieve him. To know what it is to grieve him, one must first get to know him. Go ahead; spend some time with him today. Get to know him a little better. Become even more acquainted with his ways. Ask him what things in your life grieve him. He’ll not only be happy to let you know, he’ll work with you and in you to put those things that grieve him behind you.

Let us not grieve our Holy God. Let all who read this declare, "I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress" (Psalm 17:3b).



From the November 2009 issue of The Vine & Branches