Paul admonished the Ephesians: “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). Since the Holy Spirit is a divine person, it is clear that He can be displeased. “Grieving” Greek word, Lupeo, means to distress, to pain, to offend, to sadden the Holy Spirit.
When a child acts contrary to the counsel of his parents, he hurts and grieves them. So when a Christian acts contrary to the counsel of the Holy Spirit, he hurts and grieves Him. When Christians do not live up to the standard of Christ in word or speech, they grieve the Holy Spirit.
In the Old Testament, The Israelites grieved the Holy Spirit when they rebelled against the commandments of God (Isaiah 63:10). This same principle is true today. One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to lead those who would receive Heaven’s approval. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). Those who put to death the deeds of the body are led by the Spirit. The Spirit leads Christians as they obey the Word of God, which was given by the Holy Spirit. The only way that the Holy Spirit speaks to Christians today is through the Word of God. When we obey the Word of God given by the Spirit, we are sons of God (Rom. 8:16).
How does one grieve the Holy Spirit, and what are the consequences connected with such a course of action? First, the Holy Spirit is grieved when believers allow impure things to penetrate their life or thoughts. Paul said in Romans 8:5-7, that those who are after the flesh are those who are living in harmony with fleshly desires and sin. The bottom line is they are interested in sinful things. In contrast, those that are after the Spirit are those who are interested in spiritual things and follow the Word of God.
Second, the Holy Spirit is grieved when believers behave immorally. Paul went on to say in Romans 8:12-13 that Christians are debtors to live the good, righteous life which God commanded. They are not obligated to live after the flesh, that is, after sin. If one lives a life of sin and disobedience to God’s will after the flesh, the just payment for such a life is eternal death. This passage emphasizes that the Holy Spirit helps Christians live above sin and put it out of our lives. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we do not put sin out of our lives!
Third, the Holy Spirit is grieved when Christians act unjustly. Peter said, “Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land. While it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:3-4). Peter’s insight was given to him by the Holy Spirit, and he knew exactly what Ananias was doing. No one had commanded Ananias to sell his property, but the thing that he conceived in his heart was to give a part and claim credit for giving all. This lie grieved the Holy Spirit. Christians are to be what they claim to be.
It is very clear; therefore, that one pleases the Holy Spirit when he pursues the biblically oriented life. Conversely, when one turns away from God, the divine Spirit, in a manner of speaking, is grieved. The consequences of grieving the Holy Spirit is depicted by the prophet Isaiah who showed the benevolence of God in sustaining His children when they were faithful to Him, but when they rebelled, God became their enemy. It is a sad day in one’s life when God becomes his/her enemy, which grieves the Holy Spirit.